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Life After NaNoWriMo: 8 Tips for Aspiring Novelists

National Novel Writing Month is drawing to a close -- in this tip sheet, a creative writing coach gives some helpful hints for writers hoping to publish their NaNo novels.

 
PRLog - Nov. 26, 2011 - DENVER -- As the month of November draws to a close, thousands of National Novel Writing Month participants around the world are wrapping up their 50,000 word masterpieces. But they shouldn’t send that manuscript off yet – there’s still more work to do before they’ll be able to pitch anything to an agent or publisher.

1.   Novelists shouldn’t stop writing just because the month is over. 50,000 words makes for a thin novel. Most books picked up by publishers fall in the 80,000 – 100,000 word range: just long enough to feel satisfying, but not overwhelming to potential readers.

2.   It helps for writers to set their novel aside for a little while. Revisiting it in a few months allows writers to see their words with fresh eyes. It can be surprising to discover which scenes sizzle and which scenes fall flat.

3.   Revise! Once writers have had the time and space to examine their novel objectively, it’s time to rewrite anything which feels rushed, confusing, or irrelevant to the story. They should resist the urge to send the rough draft to a publisher – down that road lies only regret.

4.   Novice writers may find it helpful to hire a freelance editor to identify and correct any weak points in their writing. This can be a little pricey, but it will significantly increase the novel’s chances of publication.

5.   Proofreading is essential. Writers who aren’t good at spotting their own mistakes should ask a friend to help, or hire a professional. A manuscript riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and misplaced punctuation will convince agents and publishers that an author’s not really serious about their work.

6.   Writers shouldn’t rely solely on friends and family members for constructive criticism. Yes, they may think the novel is amazing, but unless they’re also writers (or English majors), they probably won’t give useful feedback for improving a novel. Joining a local or online critique group can give aspiring authors access to editors and other writers.

7.   Authors need to identify the right markets for their writing before submitting a manuscript. It does no good to send a mystery novel to an agent who only works with science fiction. Investing in a copy of Writer’s Market will help writers find the best home for their novel, and give them tips on correctly formatting their submission and writing a query letter.

8.   Writers shouldn’t be afraid of rejection letters – they’re simply a fact of life. Every successful writer has been rejected more than once, including bestsellers like Stephen King.

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Julie M. Rodriguez is a freelance writer, editor, and creative writing coach. She blogs about the creative process at www.renegadeword.com.

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