Now that WriMo is over and done with, and the calorie count of words adds up to 50,000 or more, I think it’s time to take a break from writing – and edit. Prune, splice, whittle, massage, and carve that turkey now that the rough stages are over.
December is a good time to get a preliminary edit in place. When I do a first round edit for the story, not a line edit, I often do it before getting things set in stone but after I have a mad dash for the finish line. I find gaps and passages that no longer play a role or should play a role later on. It’s easier to do this kind of editing when it’s fresh in my mind and I hold all the cards. As time wears on, I forget and misplace the themes which destroys continuity and how characters appear in my head as opposed to how they are on page. It’s a good time to do some fixing.
It’s also a good time to add.
Often, when I’m editing, I’ll delete as much as I add, maybe even add more. I’ll find areas that need more support, sentences here and there to build up the story and pull the plot into a tighter arc. I’ll even find themes and ideas in there just begging to be elaborated on that I subconsciously included. The strange thing is that I often add more in the editing phase than I do in the writing phase. It’s why I write skeletons of chapters, maybe 4 thousand or 5 thousand words long, knowing that I’ll balloon them later into larger and larger pieces that are more complete with subplots and themes.
So I suggest adding a month to NaNo WriMo, National Novel Editing Month, NaNo EdiMo. Here’s how I propose it:
1) Read the manuscript at least twice over in the month.
2) You cannot look at word counts for how much is deleted or added. The only thing that matters is sharpening the manuscript.
3) You must take a week off at least to decompress.
4) During the week off you must read one other author that you aspire to be like.
I feel that these are sound rules. They encourage engaging with the manuscript as well as some distance at some time to step back and really let it simmer in the mind. And as for reading the manuscript twice, it’s amazing how quickly the first read will go when really in the zone after writing it. In the past I’ve flown through half a manuscript without realizing that I did it. Then, taking a break helps slow that all down and bring the mind around to that of a reader.
Reading another author is paramount in my opinion when taking a break. Getting some direction, some outside influence on how things work and how it can organize the mind helps crystalize the editing process. Writing is not done in a vacuum; it’s not done without something to build off of.
So that’s my proposal, NaNo EdiMo. A necessary addition to the writing process after a month long sprint.