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December 1: Life After NaNoWriMo

You signed up early. You got a rockin' outline. You cleared your desk, set up the coffee-maker, and squeaked out thousands upon thousands of words all through November.

You, sir and/or madame, are a gen-u-ine rock star.

But now November is over, and all the hard work, the blood, sweat, and tears of the last month has left you with... a crappy first draft. That's what they said to expect all along, but still, well. You didn't expect it to be so, you know. Crappy.

You might feel worn out, spent, noodle-brained, and maybe a touch disappointed. Totally normal.

So don't let your novel-writing journey end there. Take a break, eat some real food, reintroduce yourself to your family. And then prepare yourself for the next step: revisions.

Here's how we at YA Highway prepare for revisions:

Send it to betas or the agent and take a week or two off, then start making notes while I wait for feedback.   
- Kate Hart, who compiled a badass set of revisions links here.

By thinking about the manuscript as little as possible while my betas/agent/editor are reading it. 
- Kristin Halbrook, who has also written about revisions here.

There’s really not much methodology behind my revision preparation, now that I think about it. As a rule, I work a lot by intuition and generally have a gut feeling about what’s not working. I do tend to jump right in. 
- Stephanie Kuehn

Rending of garments, gnashing of teeth. Then I dive right in! No use postponing the inevitable. 
- Phoebe North, who has also written about revisions here.

I send it to betas and/or my agent and pretend I'm not thinking about it when in reality, I'm going through wild swings of emotion about the quality of the work I just sent off to others. I usually try to work on something else or take a writing break altogether in the meantime, though, so that I'm a little bit fresh toward it. 
- Kaitlin Ward, who has also written about revision here.

Depends on the round. Let's say second round, my own. I print out the book, and get a legal pad to jot down notes as I go (as well as in the manuscript itself). I prefer to work on a big table at a coffee shop, if I can find one. If we're talking editor revisions -- in a big scary letter -- I read from top to bottom, and write down my initial responses to each editor thought. (Sometimes: RAWR.) Then I revise from small, non-scary changes to large. 
- Kirsten Hubbard

I don’t touch the manuscript for a good few days. I don’t open the file, I don’t think about it, I don’t allow myself to indulge in any “how can I fix that one problem” thoughts. In order to think clearly regarding revisions, I need to reset my brain, purposefully forget what the book is about, and read with truly fresh eyes. 
- Amy Lukavics

This is the one part of my process that is always the same: I make a big list of all the things I want to fix, whether they're huge plot or arc-altering things, or small “this scene needs editing” things. If I find myself having a lot of “this needs to be fixed throughout the book” issues, I'll make a “scene-by-scene” edit list where I work through several things in each scene. If I find myself having a few big but spread out issues, I organize them in order of difficulty (hardest to easiest) and work my way down the list. 
- Veronica Roth, who has also written about revisions here.

Well, ideally I have a list of questions I have to answer, and I answer those questions with scenes. It sounds really simple, but like everything involved in writing, it is the exact opposite of that. 
- Sumayyah Daud

Philip Tubb [Public domain or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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  1. This is all excellent advice. Sumayyah's especially I think will be a fantastic help!

  2. I'm so pleased that I won this year, because I thought I'd never make it! I've done this five times... Some novels come out really good, but others don't. This one... was a "don't." >>

    But I'll go through some of this advice and see what kind of help it can give me!

  3. Some great tips there, so thank you for sharing. I really need to get a beta reader who can do more than just point out spelling errors... But I always leave the manuscript away from me for awhile to clear my head and to be able to look with fresh eyes later.

  4. Great advice- thanks for sharing! Veronica and Sumayyah's advice is especially helpful for me! :)



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