8 Things to Do After Finishing NaNoWriMo
by MC Smitherman
You finished NaNoWriMo.
That’s fantastic! But now you’re wondering, “I just spent a month hunched over a keyboard, and I have 50,000 words. What do I do now?”
Well, wonder no longer, because today we’re going over eight things you should do after finishing NaNoWriMo.
You did it, you finished NaNoWriMo after pouring all that time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, and burgeoning arthritis into 50,000 words! That’s a fantastic achievement that you should be proud of and celebrate. Once you finish patting yourself on the back for all of the work you’ve done, move on to the next steps because the fun has only just begun.
2. Finish that first draft.
Most novels won’t be 100% done at 50,000 words unless you’re going for a novelette or novella. If you’re writing in the sci-fi or fantasy spheres, you’re probably only halfway done, so let’s keep going! But moving forward, it’s time to adhere to a more realistic schedule than NaNoWriMo allowed. You know how much time you have to write in a given day and how much you can get done in that time, so now that we’re no longer in that NaNoWriMo sprint, it’s time to create a sustainable daily/weekly word count. And keep in mind that it’s no longer all about word count. Allow yourself the time and space to be more deliberate with the content of your novel now that you’re not in crunch mode.
Don’t worry about going back and editing too much now either. First things first. Get it done, and we’ll worry about perfecting it later down the line.
3. Take a break, and let it breathe.
You’ve immersed yourself in this draft consistently for a while, so now it’s time to put it away. Don’t look at it, don’t even think about it. You need to put some distance between yourself and your manuscript in order to look at it objectively when it’s time to move on to the next steps. All the plot holes, typos, and errors are invisible to you right now. Like we said in this post, it’s the whole forest-through-the-trees thing. Once you’ve spent time working on other projects or just taking a break from writing overall, it’s time to start editing.
4. Revise your novel
No first draft is perfect. Really no draft is perfect, but least of all a first draft. As the old adage goes, all writing is rewriting. Now is the time to cut your manuscript down or bolster the word count to get it in line with the average word count of your given genre. Your romantic comedy is probably better off not being 150,000 words, and your epic fantasy is likely underdeveloped if it’s only hitting 60,000 words.
Make sure (as a general rule) that all of your scenes are either progressing the plot or revealing something about the characters (or both at once). We want a plot with high stakes that gets more intense as the novel goes on, and characters that change and grow throughout their story.
Ensure that your novel’s theme is consistent throughout as well. You should be able to finish this statement in one sentence: “This is a story about _____.”
Also, make sure that the rules of your setting are solid. This is more important for fantasy or sci-fi novels that have to invent new rules and introduce those rules to the audience. The laws of physics in your world can be hog-wild, as long as the hogs adhere to a consistent set of wild rules. If gravity in your world adapts to the emotional states of the characters in it and gets stronger when people get angry, make sure your characters aren’t floating around in midair while having a shouting match over a series of terrible lies and heartbreaking betrayals.
And finally, your draft will also need to be combed for spelling and grammatical errors, typos, and other issues that pop up whenever we write, but especially when we’re sprinting toward writing 50,000 words in a month.
5. Read it out loud.
This is even more important now than it ever was as not only will people be reading your words, but they’ll also be hearing them spoken aloud as audiobooks grow in popularity. Reading your work aloud will also help you spot idiosyncrasies in your writing style, moments of dialogue that sound like robots trying to emulate normal speech, and typos that your brain “fixed” while you were reading silently.
6. Get some impartial feedback.
Getting beta readers is an important part of publishing any book. And don’t just get feedback from your mom, she’s not exactly the most impartial of judges when it comes to your work. Reach out to other writers and communities that do beta readings for each other to get some honest feedback on your manuscript. Also, if you don’t feel ready to receive feedback from fellow writers, then that’s a good sign that your manuscript isn’t quite ready for publication either because your peers will be far kinder (and provide far better feedback) than the public.
7. Edit (again).
You’ve edited your manuscript already, read it aloud, and gotten some outside feedback, now it’s time to collate all of those notes and everything you know into final edits.
It’s also a good idea to get a professional editor to take a look at your work (if you can afford it).
8. Submit your manuscript!
All of your edits are done, you’ve poured everything you’ve got into this, and now it’s ready. It’s time to start submitting your manuscript to prospective publishers! While doing so, make sure you read the application requirements carefully, adhere to the rules of each application, and submit all of the necessary materials. Don’t postpone your publication by slipping up and forgetting to send in a piece of key information.
That does it for our checklist on what you should do after finishing your NaNoWriMo draft! We hope that this has helped you plan out your next steps. And congratulations again on finishing NaNoWriMo!
Now, we can’t promise that if you do these seven things that we’ll publish your book. But we can promise that doing them will help your manuscript stand out and rise toward the top of our slushpile.
We’re looking forward to reading your submission.
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