Post NaNoWriMo Manuscript Editing

Last month, over 300,000 novelist participated in the National Novel Writing Month. This was a time for all participants to write over 1,666 words a day – 50,000 words total during the entire month. I’m proud to say I had been one of those lucky few to make it to the finishline. However, this article can assist anyone who wants to improve their writing so far.

Here are a few tips that will improve any amount of words, post NaNoWriMo.

1. No matter how many words or pages you have, print them off (double spaced, using a legible font) and organize them into chapters.

Tip: I found it most helpful keeping my chapters inside a binder. I started out with papers scattered all over my table, and my cat, Shana, kept sleeping on them. But then after transferring over to a binder format, I had much cleaner and crisper pages. Whether or not this helps you organize, it does keep paperwork together, which you can take with you on the go. Definitely an improvement.

2. After printing your manuscript, read and revise your manuscript using a pencil. By looking at your words on paper, you are mirroring what the reader’s experience when picking up your book. For some reason, those words just don’t feel as real until they’re on paper. I advise you go through your entire manuscript this way, and do not return to the typing version until you’ve finished. This will immerse you in the medium style that you’re using, which is important because the readers will read this form of medium. If you were to choose which step is the most important, this would be it.

If you’re not sure what kind of notes you should be taking, or you’re having trouble reading, use a text-to-speech feature online or on your computer to hear someone’s voice reading what you wrote back to you. On top of reading the manuscript from paper, this is just another way to check the flow of your writing.

3. After having completed your editing on print, you’re ready to revisit your typed version and finish revising. When you revisit, read what you are editing out loud.

Tip: What helped me the most was opening a new file and starting from scratch, while reading the story as I wrote. It’s the same manuscript, but by reading it to yourself and writing anew, you get rid of the cluster of searching for the places you wanted to make changes to, and it keeps you in the flow of your words. Your words gain an amount of “flow” too by doing it this way.

Listening to your own voice is better than going off your written notes. It’s closer to simulating how readers will hear it in their heads than what is actual on print. Your voice makes your words more readable, because essentially, your voice is the words on paper.

Bonus Round:

If you’re like me, and you want to be a professional writer some day, you’ll have to get your work proof-edited by someone other than yourself. Start off by getting an assessment from someone. During an assessment, an editor will read through the entire manuscript in one sitting, and leave small notes as they see fit along the way. For a cheap price, they suggest how to fix the plot line, character building, and adjustments to improve your manuscript. However, do not expect a full-on proof editing. That comes later.

After an assessment, go through your novel again by repeating the steps above, and you’ll return to your editor for a proofreading in the next month or so. Depending on how precise you want to be, you can pay a hefty amount to have them check – word for word – your grammar, spelling, sentence structures, etc., along with plot, setting and character building again so your book is publishable quality.

You can also get a book cover designer, interior editor, and a traditional publisher. But nowadays, most writers are independent authors: they use sites, such as Amazon, to publish their manuscripts for free. These kind of sites have a community of writers, which also provides insight on your work. There are all sorts of free sites giving advice to writers online. Keep in mind, nothing about publishing is free if you want to be well-known, but there are many ways to avoid over-spending.

Make sure to thank everyone involved with improving your writing, and be careful with advertisement. Again, there are many ways to not break the bank: use social medias. Amazon and Goodreads will basically advertise for you.

Good luck to all fellow writers out there!

I hope to write to you soon!


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