It’s November and that means it’s NANOWRIMO. To celebrate my first Nanowrimo novel, Zero Repeat Forever being on the way to publication by Simon & Schuster I’m featuring many published or soon-to-be-published Nanowrimo novels over the month of November, as well as some old posts I wrote during my first Nanowrirmo in 2011.
Write that novel! Then hit PUBLISH! IMMEDIATELY!!!
No. NO! Please, no! Don’t hit publish, not yet. Nobody writes gold on their first draft. Nobody. NaNoWriMo is great at pushing people to finish that first draft. It’s wonderful to let your imagination loose and just let the words flow. But that doesn’t mean your novel is ready for prime time. Not even close.
First step after finishing is to celebrate. You wrote a freakin’ novel! That is awesome. I remember the feeling the first time I finished a novel. It was wonderful and exhilarating. I floated around with a stupid grin on my face saying, “I finished a novel. An actual novel, not just a really long short story. I wrote a novel.” Ten minutes later, reality hit. That novel was a complete pile of crap. The story had potential, the characters were shaping up to be a lot of fun, but the novel was total crap.
Same thing happened to me with nanowrimo a few years ago. I wrote a novel! It was my twentieth finished manuscript after eleven published novels and dozens of published short stories, but still, I wrote another novel! Celebrate! Party hard for a few minutes. But no publish button. That came months later, after I’d had edited and re-edited and had friends edit and had an editor edit. I still rushed it. There are a few typos that need fixed. I’ve also realized I need to change a few things around, expand a bit there and nip a bit over there, to make it a better story. I also need to write the three prequels floating in my head.
So, after you finish nano, celebrate! Spend a few days sleeping, talking to your cat, walking your dog, reconnecting with your family. Showering. Whatever you gave up so you could make that November 30 deadline. Let the story sit, untouched, for a while. Write something new. Paint a picture. Whatever recharges your batteries.
Then take your nano novel out and read it with fresh eyes. Find the crap, and there will be a lot of it, there always is. But find the gold nuggets, too. Spend time beating that story into shape. Some stories take a lot of work, complete rewriting is common. But sometimes the story just needs a good polish. Find a friend who can judge your novel.
Find a good artist to help with the cover. Even just someone with a good design eye. Or a website that creates pre-made covers. If you’re serious about publishing, you need to look professional.
Evaluate your feelings, too. If you can’t handle criticism, deserved or not, you aren’t ready to hit publish, even if your story is. People are going to hate what you write. People are going to mock it. People are just going to be mean. But someone will love it. Eventually. If you can handle that, then you are ready to publish.
Now, go ahead and hit that publish button. Sometimes the journey takes a few months, sometimes it takes years. But however long it may be, don’t hit that button until you and your story are ready.
Jaleta Clegg loves to spin tales of adventure and intrigue, romance and explosions, monsters and aliens and creepy evil ten-year-old Shirley Temple lookalikes. She writes science fiction, space opera, all flavors of fantasy, and silly horror. Find more of her writing at http://www.jaletac.com
Her nanowrimo novel from a few years ago is Dark Dancer, a steampunk elf fantasy – http://jaletaclegg.wixsite.com/jaletacleggauthor/standalone-books
The Seligh crushed, the captives found,
the barrier broken, the balmorae freed.
A cryptic prophecy. A land in turmoil, torn apart by the power-hungry Seligh lords. A missing Queen. Two young women who can dance magic into being, who have no idea of their true heritage.
Jaleta is still working on the prequels to Dark Dancer, among other things.