So I finished and won Nanowrimo 2016. Hooray! They suggested putting away your finished story for a month before editing or even thinking about it. I did exactly this. Now, it’s January, and the manuscript is out. I started going back through my synopsis and characters first, and put much more needed effort into my story world (now that I know exactly where my characters wandered through the story). Great. It was a long, long, long, long month. I fidgeted at every daily transition because I had so much juice from finishing a manuscript – my dream. I accomplished my dream after five years of giving it up. I kept writing every day, I don’t see how someone could write 2,000 words a day for thirty days and then just stop. Over a month later, it’s a daily necessity like drinking water and going to the bathroom.
January 1st . . . January 1st . . . I’m ready to dive back into my manuscript and slice and dice, so I printed it off. It’s freaking two inches thick and glaring at me with horribly written dialogue and lines of me telling myself, “You weren’t really thinking when you wrote this.” It’s daunting, and complete honesty here, I’m scared that manuscript will never be anything but a Microsoft Words document saved on my computer. (And a mocking pile of ink stained papers.) There’s over 70,000 words for me to decide to keep or toss. There’s new ones to add that I’ll have to reread and decide to keep or toss. I’m dizzy. Are you dizzy from that sentence? That’s how this editing process feels. I’m spinning plates, and I’ve never been taught how to do it.
I decided to do this. Read a book and jump into reading a second book too. One book is fiction and the other is basically one of those “Anyone can be a writer” books. One’s motivational and the other is loads of fun. I’ve reworked my plot from my one sentence summary to my long synopsis twice. I’ve also completed my nine major and minor characters complete with backstories that make every action they take seem in the best interest of their values. That took fifteen days. Fifteen days where I didn’t edit the paragraphs of my manuscript. I didn’t worry about the dialogue that reminded me a little bit of Star Wars, or the crazy ending that made no sense whatsoever.
Still, the manuscript is sitting there, and I can’t bring myself to read it. Parts of it are wildly stupid, and they make me cringe. I went through my synopsis one more time, removing anything that made me happy. What I mean is, I let my characters wander and change the story as individuals, work towards their individual goals, and not force them to do what I would do. I have the big picture in my head. Every character has a goal, and the story has a beginning, middle and end. It like I gave it save points. It doesn’t matter how I get there, as long as, I get to those points. Well, it does matter because the story needs to be well written and every word needs to be the right word. My next approach is to try and read it and dissect the monster scene by scene. Then, maybe I’ll be able to completely rewrite those scenes that seem to written by my toddler and tweak those written by that smart side of me that occasionally slips out.
Now, I’m getting excited and pumped. I can see my story like a movie, and when my characters mix the wrong dialogue and responses, I feel like I’ve given myself the ability to say “cut” and “Let’s do this again people.” I’m the God of this story, but I’ve given my characters free will and choices. Basically, they have multiple opportunities to mess everything up for themselves and the rest of the world. Since it’s a horror story, they also have many chances to live or die. I’m ready – a two inch pile of paper can’t hold me back from my dream.