>Last week, we explored getting perspective on a Nano novel and why you should revise it. Today, we’re going to look into evaluating your book first so the revision process is not so overwhelming.
Before you start hacking away at your book, take some advice from a writer who’s made big mistakes in that department: evaluate before you edit. Why? Because in your zeal to make your novel the best ever, you may throw out passages or even whole scenes that don’t deserve it.
When revising Dead Locked, I went on a rampage and cut all kinds of material. Most of it, however, crept back into the book because it served the story well, even amidst drastic changes. So I urge you to view your rough draft as a foundation to build upon, not a building in need of demolition. This is the approach I’ve taken with The Jester’s Apprentice and things have gone much smoother! If you chip away at the story (versus taking a sledgehammer to it), what the story needs will become clear.
Therefore, read with a lighter touch and focus on the structure of your novel first before you start fretting over wording. Examine the overall story and make note of holes or gaps in the main plot and subplots as well as the pacing. Is the story tight and believable? Do you explain how and why things happen as they do? Do you have too much happening in some spots and not enough in others?
Pay attention to your characters, marking the ones that need fleshing out. Do all of your characters come to life on the page? Do you have enough characters? Or too many? Do all of the characters have a reason for being there? Think about setting too. Are your characters anchored in a place and time? Don’t forget to list any information you need to research to be accurate and/or believable.
But don’t just focus on what’s wrong with the story. Also be aware of what’s right. It’s easy to read your own work and hate everything, but it’s more productive to be fair and also see what you like in the story, even small things. When I read The Jester’s Apprentice, I marked everything I like or loved, including images and dialogue. At the end, I had a lot more things I liked about the story than I thought I would.
Revising a NaNoWriMo novel may take patience and time, but that’s the case with any novel. Don’t just give up because it takes work. As I said last week, you’ve already tackled one of the hardest parts – writing a complete first draft! So keep going and finish that book!