Thursday, December 01, 2011

Over for another year

And so Nano is ending around the world for another year. Writers are squeeing over their 50,000 words and wallowing in the knowledge that they did the job. Some have done an outstanding job; others, not so much.

But now what? Oh, right: send it out to an agent/editor/publisher.

Three words of advice: Don't. Do. It!

While it's an achievement to finish the 50k, agents/editors/publishers around the world are also busy - buying up crates of their alcoholic beverage of choice in preparation for the influx of 'Nano novels'.

If you're not a fan of the Fake Editor Twitter, here are a few gems recently posted:

I have no fewer than 15 obvious books in my Inbox. All are just over 50k in length, all clearly unedited.

 If your query starts “Here’s the novel I finished writing last night,” it doesn’t matter what you say next. I've stopped reading.

 "Dear editor, please consider my fiction novel of 50,006 words that I swear isn't a NaNo book" doesn't inspire much confidence.

 “Look at me, I wrote a novel in a month!” No, honey. You typed 50,000 words in a month. Not the same thing.

The truth is in the last comment. Yes, you've written 50,000 words and that's great, but that's all you've done. 50,000 words do not make a book. It's three-quarters of a first draft.

The National Novel Writing Competition level of 50k was set as an achievable goal, a method to teach consistency in writing, a test bed to see if you've got what it takes to sit down everyday and write a minimum of 1,667 words. Using the word 'novel' is a bit of a misnomer, unless you're writing for young adults, and even then, writers like J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins produce books with more words.

I'm not criticising, Nano is a wonderful tool and I use it with ferocity. But I also know 50k doesn't make a book, it makes a damned good start on one. I write a minimum of two books at least 80k and if I have time, a third. I let them sit and then EDIT and RE-WRITE along with the bitching and moaning about why I thought that scene, that character, those conversations were a good idea.

People who finished the 50k deserve to celebrate - writing that much in a month is no easy task when there are so many other distractions and chores. Thousands of people have created new worlds, new characters, new stories to beguile the reader. If only we could harness such creative energy for other things...

December is a time for rest after the frantic race to the deadline, but it should also be a time for those who just made the 50k to examine whether the story is complete, whether the plots have been resolved and when the promise of the first chapter has been fulfilled by the last. And then finish it if not.

Me, I'm off to read a few books, like Anne McCaffrey and Lynn Viehl - oh, and do the housework that has been sadly neglected; and pack for the move.

Congrats to all who finished Nano, may it be the start of a long and productive career.

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