Using NaNoWriMo Lessons – Editing by Chunks

Not This Year!

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.  There, I’ve admitted it out loud.  I’ve decided to spend my sanity on keeping up with my homework as a “returning mature student,” developing my blog, and finishing (yes, you read that right), finishing my current Work in Progress.

But my past years of doing NaNo have taught me a lot.  In a nutshell:

  • To turn off my internal editor (still a constant effort for me, though).
  • To give characters the freedom to take the story in a different direction.
  • To develop the discipline of daily writing.  (Read more at Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo.)

I’ve realized lately that I learned one more thing from NaNo:  how to chop big chunks of writing and rearrange other big chunks.  There’s no way anyone gets through NaNo without a big pile of crappy stuff.  We all know that going in, and we learn to go through our mish-mash afterwards to find the gems worth keeping.

That skill is coming in handy now.  My current WIP is a women’s novel told in sections narrated by each of three main characters.  And believe me – this was waaaay more complicated than I ever expected.

Even after I spent mega-time plotting and outlining, I didn’t seem able to flip from one character to the other in the order planned.  I ended up writing lots of one storyline, then lots of another, then lots of the third, only to discover that what I wrote for the first wasn’t going to mesh with the interaction later, even with the pre-planning.

You can see where this is going.  After getting on my knees and thanking God for the guy who invented cut-and-paste, I did a lot of cutting and pasting.  I’m still doing it, in fact.  Scenes move from one section to another.  Scenes get deleted because I’ve gotten to know my characters better and that scene just doesn’t work anymore.  And some scenes get completely re-written from a different character’s viewpoint.

I’m ¾ done with my rough draft, and doing some of this editing-in-chunks now to set up the remaining scenes.  I will be so glad when the rough is done, and I can really step back and make the story work.  But at least I’m learning to do the structural editing first, instead of smoothing out dialogue and narration only to cut them later anyway.

Hmm . . . the order of editing.  I could continue, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

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