Congrats, NaNoWriMo winners! Now what? (And a plug for Worldbuilders)

I really hope that if you churned out 50,000 words in November that you’re not in front of the computer today. (Reading this on a phone or tablet is acceptable, however.) You deserve a break! Congratulations for all your hard work in creating…what exactly?

Let’s call it a proto-novel, because while it’s going to be a novel some day, it’s not a novel at the moment. It’s a first draft, a heap of words with just enough connective tissue to create the bones of a story. Zombie-like, it has emerged from your brain-things and is now shuffling about your hard drive. It is not yet alive. It’s most certainly not ready for real readers. (Beta readers are, of course, perfectly fine.)

So whatever you do, don’t start querying literary agents! I have it on good authority (i.e. drunken, frustrated agents) that many agents dread December due to all of the NaNoWriMo stuff that’s slopped into their inboxes. It’s not that NaNoWriMo is bad — Far from it! You wrote stuff! — it’s just that the books hastily submitted to agents just aren’t ready for prime-time. And they won’t be for a while.

So what do you do? First off, remember that it’s no longer a race. You did the thing, produced the words. Now the hard part starts. And that takes time. I suggest taking a week off, reconnect with your family and friends, and generally remember to eat, sleep and be social once more. Let the zombie shuffle around a bit. It’s not going anywhere.

Then you start revising. And revising again. Probably a third time. This is the part where you connect the words together, make sure each passage is carrying its weight in the story, each sentence is complete and has the appropriate amount of nouns, verbs and adjectives, with a sprinkling of adverbs. (Don’t overdo it on the adverbs. Think of them as seasoning. A little goes a long way.)

This is now the time where you sit back, ease off the throttle, and make sure what you wrote becomes good. This is when you revive the zombie. Only after revision and attention to detail and thorough review can you sit back and scream, “It’s alive. ALIVE!

And only after that should you begin to query. Many literary agents will thank you for your patience.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you can still chip in on the WriMos for Worldbuilders fundraiser. Each $10 gets you an entry into a lottery for fabulous prizes — four of which are critiques of your writing. (Why, yes, I’m one of the four people offering critiques.) It can be a critique of the thing you just wrote. Or something else. Whatever. If you win, it’s your call. You have until Dec. 14 to chip in.

It would be super swell of you to donate, and I hope karma wins out and I get to critique your proto-zombie-novel.

#SFWApro

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Filed under Charity, NaNoWriMo, Writing

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