I posted yesterday about the way writers can take that old manuscript and re-cast it. Not just revising, but re-inventing.
Which brings me to NaNoWriMo. I sometimes wonder what happens to the results of so many hours of labour poured into thousands of manuscripts around the US – and the world – every November. Do manuscripts end up sitting in virtual drawers, forgotten? Do authors re-write later? Do authors look back and feel despondent? Proud?
The reality of writing is that 50,000 words blasted out in four weeks – and believe me, that is daunting even for a professional author – is going to be pretty rough. It’ll need work. And maybe, after a month’s slog, enthusiasm might well need re-kindling. My take? Try this:
1. Stick the MS in the proverbial drawer for a while.
2. Come back to it. Re-read it critically – but only for structure, for character arc, for plot. Make notes.
3. Go through a planning exercise – here are some pointers. Re-cast the necessary content.
4. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper or empty file, and begin writing. That’s right. From scratch. This is the important part. Why? Because by starting with a blank sheet you’re giving yourself an opportunity for all those ideas fizzing around from the planning to re-express themselves. It’s something that used to happen by default in the old typewriter days – there was always the opportunity to re-cast while you were making a clean copy of a pen-and-ink amended typescript.
5. Today, re-typing doesn’t mean re-typing everything, necessarily. Open the original NaNo file – and copy across the elements that DID work, or re-cast them as it suits.
Yes, it’s likely to be a lot of work…but that is what writing is about. And the reality of books – which I’ll be exploring in the next little while – is that they have less to do with word count than they do with being an organic entity, a means of taking a reader on a journey. They are also a journey for the author, and those journeys always start with a single step.
Does this work for you? Did you join NaNoWriMo this year? How did you fare?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012