And the month comes to a close

So ends another November, and with it another National Novel Writing Month.

Those who participated, I hope the experience went well for you.  You’ve now got pages of text — or one hopes as much, at least.

Just because the month is over, doesn’t mean you’re done.  Is the novel finished?  Excellent!  Time to get hard at work proofreading and editing.  Before you ever hand it to another, sit down and read it with your read pen in hand and fix it.  Make it say what it ought to say.  You got the idea on the page, now polish it, sand it, take off the rough edges.

Maybe it’s only half done.  50,000 words sounds a lot, but it’s maybe around 200 pages, give or take — many’s the novel that’s 100k or larger.  Is your’s one of them?  Don’t give up.  You may not have the cute graphs and such to guide you, but the practices you started to get this far, keep them up!  If you’re stuck, my deepest sympathies, I’ve been there and it’s Hell, but those who aren’t keep going!

The world waits with bated breath to see the prose you so diligently stamped upon the page.  Okay, possibly not.  Odds are, we don’t know yet who you even are; change that!  You believed in yourselves enough that you have 10,000, 25,000, 80,000 or an even million words … buff them and polish them, turn them over to a good editor and let her polish them further, check her work and watch for places that just don’t quite jive as yet … there is such a thing as over-editing, but do try to make sure it gets a good few proofreads for mistakes and 2 good hard reads from yourself for clarity.

When you’re done sweating, and crying, and tearing out your hair — editing is truly the hardest part of writing, in my experience — unleash your masterpiece upon the world.  Be warned, you’ll not please everyone.  Maybe I’ll love, maybe I’ll hate it, but the man standing next to you on the train may have the opposite opinion.  Someone will read your words, place their emotions in the hands of your narrative and your characters, bare their emotional heart and hand you a proverbial sword … they’re who you’re writing for.  Someone will love you, so give them this story they didn’t even know they were looking for.

Just remember:  the story will no more edit nor publish itself than it will write itself.  Don’t give up.  I’d add not to despair, but perhaps a little despair wouldn’t go amiss — means you’ll be carefuller in your editing — and it’s not like many artists have sufficient ego to listen to such advice as “don’t despair” in any event.  Regardless, good luck.

4 thoughts on “And the month comes to a close

  1. interesting note worth mentioning, i think it was on Pawn Stars yesterday they were looking at a rare book, and going into commercial they always have the little trivia questions and this one was asking how long, on average, does it take to put a novel completely together, ready to publish.
    475 hours was the answer they provided. I’m not going to argue the validity of that answer, I can’t do the math in my head and it’s too cold right now to take off my shoes. But the writing is the easy part, once you get all the pieces of the puzzle layed out on the table, the real work, the real fun is figuring out the proper place they should fit, and the order they need to be arranged in.


    • cool. I’ve never tried to add up how much time my work spends being actively edited. I think it’s less than that figure, but that’s the fun of averages. For everyone who can do it in 100hrs there’s someone else who takes 1000 of them.


      • It’s not my number, I’m just repeating what the TV told me. but it sounds believable. I don’t know if I would want to know. For me lately though the actual writing seems to be a small slice in the pie, i would venture for every hour actually pounding the keyboard, there are 3 or 4 hours of reading, re-reading, saying it out loud, slowly, backwards if necessary, cutting it down to size and then gluing it back together.


        • Oh, I didn’t mean to say it was. I understand it was from the TV, it just made me think infinitely more about the amount of time I and some other authors I know spend editing and so wondered a bit at the figure is all.


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