Sort-of-Nanowrimo 2015: All Of The Editing

It’s that time of year again!

Around the world, many a brave, foolish soul is starting a brand new novel for National Novel Writing Month. Not so with me…


Enjoying my sharp design skillz, heh?


I’m still kind of participating, because how could I not? But, for the first time in all my years of Nano-ing, I don’t have a wordcount goal. YIKES.

That’s because, right now, I’m editing The Paradise Swarm.

I have plenty of ideas for new stories but stopping my edits to write something new would just be giving in to the temptation of the Shiny New Idea (sooo tempting!) and leaving this novel hanging.

I know what I need to do now is FINISH THIS BOOK, if only to gain the experience of getting to the end of a novel.

I’ve completed five Nanowrimos, and taken a good chunk out of two more, it’s something I know I can do. I haven’t completed a novel yet, so I’ll work on that.

Here’s how it is going to work

My plan is to do 50 hours of edits in November: it’s a big chunk of the work, more than an hour a day, and obviously I like that it keeps the magic number 50 in the equation.

I’m not sure how to log it on the Nano website, or even if I should – some people have suggested I put down 1,000 words for each hour of editing, since that would give me a win once I reached 50, but I’m not sure about that idea.

I write quite slowly and I know I’d never reliably 1K an hour all November long, so it doesn’t feel quite write to equate 50 hours of work with a Nanowrimo win when I normally put in about double that amount of time.

My Book Progress

Luckily, this new progress bar widget I backed on Kickstarter just funded, so I can use this as well as (or instead of?) the wordcount feature on the Nano website.
MyBookProgress looks pretty nifty so far, although it doesn’t have an option to log hours at the moment – I’ve suggested that for a future update. So, for now, I’ve set my goal as 50 scenes edited in November, which is a bit more of an ambitious goal than 50 hours – but ambition is no bad thing, especially not in November!!

The Paradise Swarm
Phase:2nd Draft
Due:8 years ago

I’ve only done an hour so far (coincidentally, I did a full scene then as well if a short one), but I should be able to do more this evening!

The Nanowrimo Tag

If you’d like to hear more about my Nanowrimo experiences in general, check out the Nanowrimo Tag:


Editing The Paradise Swarm

As you may have seen on twitter a few weeks back, I finished the first draft of The Paradise Swarm. It’s riddled with plot holes and doesn’t quite have an ending, but it’s done! Honestly, I was starting to doubt I would actually get even this far.

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off, and now it’s time to whip that novel into shape. I know editing makes some writers want to tear their own hair out, but I enjoy the process immensely. Being able to take the book apart and put it back together again better to make it look like I was really smart in the first place is just exhilarating.

Anyway, Phase One of Operation Editing is to read the novel critically and make notes. I’m putting the manuscript through Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course, which I tried once before and found really useful. It’s an in-depth course which is going to take a long time to work through, but I know it’ll make the book heaps better.

So far, I’ve made notes on the first six chapters and I’ve found some stuff there that’s not too shabby. Of course, there is a lot that needs fixing (specifically, a lot that is not at all subtle), but by and large, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I can’t lie, the amount of changes to be made is slightly terrifying.

Here are a few things I know for a fact I’ll have to do:

  • Re-write at least two chapters in a different PoV, most likely many more than that.
  • Write in the characters’ motivations and reasoning for deciding to work together. Currently the reasoning is very obviously “So that plot can happen” and that’s not going to fly.
  • Add all the things that my past self put in brackets for my future self to add in. Darn past self, I hate her.
  • Fix the made up science! Luckily as the novel happens in the 1850s, it’s okay for the characters not to properly understand the made-up science.

EEP!! So much work to do! I’m going to see my family in a few days and flying out early in the morning. I’m hoping to get some work done as I’m travelling and while I’m on holidays.

Please let me know if you’ve got any advice from your own editing experience, or if you know any good resources I should check out! And wish me luck…


Is it December yet?

Woooot! I’ve won!! *happy dance*

I completed my fifth Nanowrimo out of six attempts at 23:15 on Saturday night. One day, I swear, I will put down my 50,000th word in the morning of the 30th.

And though it is never easy to write 50K in a month, I found this year particularly challenging and I really struggled with my writing.

I’ve been writing The Paradise Swarm for a long time and as Nano approached, I really didn’t feel like switching to a new story. I did start something new on November 1st, because I generally think it’s good fun, but I couldn’t get stuck in. I couldn’t start over again from scratch, slowly building characters and conflicts when I had just been getting to a really exciting bit of The Paradise Swarm just before Nano kicked off.

After approximately a week and 6,000 words, I switched from my funny university slice-of-life story about exchange students to ‘The Other Novel’, an adventure-filled Sci-Fi idea that sounded like the perfect distraction at the time. That lasted three days and about 4,000 painful words before I had to face the hard truth.

It was time to break the rules again, by going back to what I really wanted to be doing, which was writing The Paradise Swarm. I wrote about 40,000 words in the second half of the month, bringing me to just under 50K altogether. At the same time, the Prologue and ex-Chapter One and Two were relegated to the ‘Cut Scenes’ folder, as they didn’t really fit any more.

I started the year with 8,000 words, most of which have now been cut, and I’m ending the year with 48,000 words, mostly new and mostly from Nanowrimo. That is quite scary to me, but at the same time, I’m closer to my overall goal than I’ve ever been. I won’t finish the manuscript this year as I had hoped, but I am firmly decided to finish it before next November.

Famous last words…


A writer by any other name

A good deal of the questions I get from new Wrimos are about how, when and where people write during Nano. They know what word count they’re aiming for (11,666 today, scary heh?), but there’s plenty more to figure out:

Are you a plotter or a pantser? A typist or long-hand writer? A tea fiend or a coffee guzzler? A morning person or a night owl? A social or a solo writer? A marathon-runner or a sprinter? A home buddy or a coffee-shop regular?

You could do worse than answering those questions for yourself, if only because it can help you prepare the best environment in which to pen the masterpiece you can see so clearly in your mind.

If, like me, you’re a plotting, sprinting, coffee-guzzling social night owl who’s a regular at her local coffee shop, you’ll love the idea of an after work write-in in a coffee shop, with yummy lattes galore. I find forty-five minutes is a bit long for me to write without a break, so I often use Write or Die for shorter sprints instead, and I can always rely on my colour-coded notecards for guidance.

Someone else might prefer a long, quiet coffee shop session on their own, or an hour’s worth of Twitter sprints in the morning before work. If you haven’t yet, take a moment to figure out what works best for you and try to create as many opportunities to get that perfect environment as you can.

Does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t write under any other circumstances? Heck NO! Because in the end, there is only really one type of writer – one who writes.

Nanowrimo is all about filling a blank page with words, as clunky and imperfect as they may be. You have to accept your words won’t always be as good as you hoped, and you also have to accept your writing environment won’t always be as good as you hoped either.

On Tuesday, I went to an evening write-in in a coffee shop, one of my favourite places to write and managed to forget my laptop at work! I’m just smart like that. I would probably have skipped the write-in altogether if I hadn’t been in charge of organising it. Typing really slowly on my phone, I only got 531 words in about an hour and a half. That’s a pretty tiny amount to get done in that time, but I bet I’ll be glad of those 500 words when I reach the final stretch.

So in the next few days, your mission if you accept it is:
Write anywhere, anyhow, anything.

Anywhere – Your time is precious, and doing Nano will show you just how much you can accomplish in just a tiny nugget of it. Let’s not kid ourselves, Nanowrimo WILL take over your life this month, so why not embrace the fact and whip out your writing tool of choice for a quick sprint whenever you have a few minutes? Lots of Wrimos write at lunchtime or on their commute, but I also find the stress of waiting rooms highly reduced by some impromptu novelling.

Anyhow – Most of us adore our computers, but there are many other ways to write. Check out one of the many free note-taking apps for your phone or tablet. Record a message for yourself on your voicemail or scrawl all over the napkins when you go out for dinner. Try something new, you might end up really enjoying it. I recently rediscovered the joys of writing longhand and now that’s always a favourite option.

Anything – Don’t be afraid to go over the top (you can always cut it in December if you don’t like it). Pick a prompt or dare from the Nano forums. If you can’t figure out what comes next, why not skip ahead to the nifty scene that got you excited about the story in the first place? Or if a scene is too difficult to write, you could leave it to your future self to deal with, as I did in my first Nano – which genuinely included the line: ‘Insert Space Battle here’.

(4897 words, not even that far behind by my standards!)


Originally posted at


Happy Anniversary, London!

Last Sunday marked the five-year anniversary of my arrival in London.

I’ve now lived in this country longer than it took me to go through high-school, or complete my degree. I’ve now lived here almost a fifth of my life. More than a fifth of my memories are from here.

It is officially A BIG THING.

Five years ago, I stepped off the overnight coach from Paris with a big suitcase filled with stuff too heavy for the plane, and went to meet Amy, who I went on to live with for several years. The house-hunting started that day, and that night there were tears of frustration and homesickness.

Less than a week later, I met Jenn and Rach, who let us stay at their place, geeked out about Harry Potter with us and took us out for sushi and karaoke. We eventually found a place, I met my other lovely flatmates, more awesome friends, an over-enthusiastic ginger kitten made of adorableness, and life went on.

One day, everyone was getting super excited about this thing that I didn’t get, because it was early days and I couldn’t catch everything everyone was saying. When I asked what the fuss was, I got more than I’d bargained for. Had I ever wanted to write a book? Did I have a lot of essays due in November? Did I fancy writing a book with them? In a month?

I thought ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen?’ and it didn’t even occur to me to think of the best thing that could happen. I’ve met so many amazing people in the NanoLondon community, and in London in general – I just can’t wait for the next five years, the next ten, etc.

Bring it on, London.