Monday, 13 June 2011

Editing My Novel

I've just had the most interesting experience reading and doing a quick first edit on the novel I wrote in the 2010 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo - write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November).  I haven't looked at the novel since November 30th when I painfully finished the last of the 50,000 words required to win.  I remember that I was out of story at 48,000 words, so I added an epilogue.  I squeezed that for 1000 words, but couldn't find any more, so added a prologue.  It felt like ugly and terrible writing, but it was done!!!   I then put the novel away for a bit to let it settle, then went to work editing the novel I had written the year before.

Well, time flies and I had a winter of sick kids and other projects, so didn't get back to my novel until recently, and that is only because the June 30th deadline of getting a free copy of the book printed is coming fast (I am learning that deadlines really motivate me).  It took me a few days, but I have just finished reading and doing a rough edit on the novel, and boy, it was a surreal experience.  I do not remember writing most of it!  That's right, there are whole characters and plot twists that I had completely forgotten!!  And while I read the climax, I sat on tender hooks, forgetting how I had resolved it.  I knew how it ended, but honestly couldn't remember how I got there.  

I attribute this experience to the fact that I did not have a plot going into NaNoWriMo, just a vague notion of a character, a setting and the thought of using the hero myth as a bit of a structure.  However, I wrote faithfully (nearly) every day in November and pushed through and wrote, whether or not I knew what to write.  That was fun for me, writing crazy things because I didn't have time to second guess myself.

And, do you know what?  After reading this rough draft, I was fairly impressed with myself and need to give myself some credit.  Sure, there are major plot holes and issues with the point of view and conflict, amongst other things, but there is also foreshadowing and the plot does tie up in the end (even if it is thin in some places, but that is not the point).

Does anyone else have any interesting writing experiences?  Has anyone else ever written anything and then forgotten like I did?  I would love to hear some other stories.


  1. I've had a similar experience with my NaNoWriMo novel from November as well. It was my first MAJOR attempt at writing and I dove in with only two weeks notice. (I had never heard of it until a friend of mine told me I should do it mid-October.)

    So, I pulled out my trusty Dream Journal and created a general idea for a story. I finished mine on November 30th as well, then took a few months off.

    When I went back to edit it, I definitely had forgotten some of the things I had written. Like you, I knew how it ended but I couldn't remember how I had gotten it there.

    There was a lot of work to be done with it, including fixing major plot holes, but I'm five editing rounds down with only one to go! Now comes the hard part of trying to decide what to do with it. But, I do know one thing, I'm SO excited for next year!

  2. I love Nano!! It is so much fun. I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't remember everything I wrote. Good for you for getting your novel so far and good luck with whatever you choose.

  3. Love NaNoWriMo! I did it years ago, but now that I'm back to teaching, Nov.'s a tough month (end of a grading quarter) to be reading and responding to 100's of student-written pieces and writing a novel on top of it... If I do try it this year, I'm contemplating writing a children's or YA novel rather than an adult one: I think that somehow that would feel more joyful for me this time around. You've encouraged me to consider it - and every year at least one, sometimes more, of my students does NaNoWriMo, so perhaps I will write-along with them!

  4. Laurie, they are starting Camp NaNoWriMo this summer - don't know exactly what it is, but it might fit better into a teaching schedule. I think they'll have info on the web site soon. I agree this would be hard as a teacher, my husband is a teacher and would like to try it, but it hasn't worked out. I agree, too, do whatever feels most joyful!!


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