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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Peaslee

Editing Your Manuscript For Post-NaNoWriMo Success

NaNo's done! Hooray! I did get to 50,000 words. It's exhilarating to know I can write that much in a month, but I don't think I'll do it again next year. (But who knows?)

Finishing NaNo is only the beginning. In this post, we'll review tips and techniques for editing your manuscript after NaNoWriMo.

Create a reverse outline of what you have

Fifty thousands words is a lot. Your head is bound to feel crowded after finishing NaNo. One of the first things you'll want to do is organize your thoughts by organizing your book.

Even if you've created an outline before writing your novel, I would recommend creating a reverse outline. It's entirely possible that you wandered off the path during NaNo and have made major changes to that outline.

Create a spreadsheet to track the following:

  • Scene number or beat

  • Characters involved

  • Whose POV

  • A brief summary of what happens

By doing so, you can get a clear overview of your story's structure. This will help you keep track of the overall flow of your narrative.

Organize your editing process for maximum efficiency

Editing a manuscript is a daunting task (even more so than writing a novel, imo) so it's crucial to organize your editing process to make things more manageable and efficient.

Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, break down your editing goals into subsections. On one readthrough, focus on dialogue. On another, focus on pacing.

Start by writing down all the areas you want to tackle—descriptions, character development, etc. Another spreadsheet is the way to go.

Breaking down the editing process into smaller tasks and tackling them one at a time will help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Create a character bible for easy reference

It's essential, but surprisingly difficult, to maintain consistency throughout your manuscript. Even experienced authors can make mistakes; I vividly remember the first edition of Goblet of Fire containing a continuity error regarding the order of which Harry's parents came out of his wand. (What a wild sentence.)

One effective way to avoid this is by creating a character bible that serves as a reference guide.

Include detailed information about each character, such as their physical appearance, personality traits, backstory, and relationships with other characters. Write down the corresponding page number for each piece of information, in case you need to quickly find it again later.

Having a character bible handy while editing can also help ensure that your characters' actions, dialogue, and motivations align with their established traits.

Identify and address common writing issues

During the editing process, it's crucial to identify and address common writing issues that may weaken your manuscript.

Some common issues include passive voice, excessive adverbs, repetitive sentence structures, and inconsistent point of view.

To identify these issues, read your manuscript out loud and pay attention to sentence construction, word choice, and overall clarity.

You can also use a text-to-speech tool to do this.

So, here's to the next chapter in your writing journey: the editing process, which will bring you closer to your final stage. NaNo may be done, but your story—and work—is just beginning. Get to it!

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