My 2022 NaNoWriMo Style

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Post-it note revision wall

I signed up for this year’s NaNoWriMo on the official website, although I knew going in this year would be different. Last year, I completed 60,000 words of a new suspense/thriller novel. It was the first time I had a general outline going in and focusing on the story beats was helpful throughout the process. I still need to revise that novel . . . but that’s on my calendar for next spring. 

This year I decided to focus on revising my young adult novel that is scheduled for publication early next year. I knew there would be some additional scenes added in, so I estimated writing 15,000 more words throughout the month of November. It’s currently November 22 and I’ve written approximately 1,000 words. But wait . . . it’s not as bad as it sounds, I hope! 

First, I wrote a new scene. I still don’t know where in the overall manuscript this new chapter will end up, but it introduces a new main thread into the book that I believe will add some depth to the topic of sexual abuse. After I wrote that scene, I started going through the manuscript, page by page. I’m using a Post-it note to document what each chapter features, usually in one sentence. I’m also using a separate stack of Post-it notes to write page numbers where I plan to either write new scenes or expand on current ones. I wrote the first draft of this book so long ago that a lot of ways teenagers communicate has changed—so I need to modernize the content in places. My book is a ghost story so I’ve been exploring “rules” that need to be in place. Can the ghosts touch physical objects? If they do, do they have to teach themselves how to do that? How many times will “the light” come for them before they remain Earth bound? I should be done with this overall exercise this week, and then I plan to start writing the new scenes. 

I’m not sure if I will end up having 15,000 new words by the time I’m done. And that’s okay. The manuscript currently has 56,000 words, and I think that’s a great base. In years’ past, I’ve pounded out manuscripts during NaNoWriMo with no structure or outline and those are all still on my hard drive, in dire need of revision. I won’t lie and say the fact that I’m not cranking out a ton of words each day isn’t giving me anxiety, but I think this is a more focused and productive approach for my manuscript’s current needs. 

I found an article on NaNoWriMo’s blog where the author suggested a few big questions a write should ask during the revision process, including:  

  • Is there enough at stake? (A novel should be about a character’s fight with some form of death—physical, professional, or psychological). 
  • Do the characters act like real people would in a similar situation? 
  • Are there parts where a busy editor or reader would be tempted to put the book down?
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How is it going for you?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and true crime podcaster who has completed NaNoWriMo four different times. Maybe the fifth time will be the charm!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Congrats on the new scene! I was messaging a new buddy over at the NaNo boards, and she asked me how I keep track of words. She's doing a lot of revision. I told her that if she revised a paragraph, heck yeah, I'd totally count that as new words! I don't get too hung up on the word count, and instead I focus on progress. I've completed NaNo twice and made it about halfway through two other times, which I think is just as great because when I write less words the quality tends to be better. :) I'm just happy to be writing anything after a slow year.

The "ghost rules" are fascinating! That would be great material for an essay about ghosts.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm a big fan of using NaNo to revise a manuscript. There's something about this challenge that works for me whether I'm revising or writing new stuff. Like Ang, I don't get too hung up on the word goal; I set my own goal and write accordingly. (Though I'm skipping this year.)

Good luck with you--I totally get updating and ghost rules. And YA readers will call you on just about everything so it pays to take your sweet time.

Well, there's sci-fi/fantasy readers, too. You canNOT get anything past that lot! :-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I'm like Ang in that a revised paragraph counts as new text for me. But that involves real revision, not just moving a comma. Post-it notes are so often a vital part of the revision process. Good luck!

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