My first time genuinely attempting National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was a success. I finished a short YA novel with a day to spare. My critique groups read it and gave me feedback, spurring three in-depth revisions. This summer, I read it out loud to my mother on the beach, and revised some more. I sent out my first volley of queries and got some rejections.
A friend who wants to start an editing business did a copy edit. I posted my query to three different critique forums and got a truckload of helpful. I just need to hear back from someone about my new opening and closing, I’ll be ready to send out my second volley of queries. I have them more or less ready to go, and my fingers are itchy to hit the send button, but I need to wait for that last bit of feedback on my new opening, since that is the chapter that will essentially either prompt the agent to hit reject or ask me for more material.
I liked it so much that when the first Camp NaNoWriMo came around in April, I was determined to finish my next WIP, Community Magic, in that month, but all I managed to do was add 10K words to it.
A few things went wrong:
- I was doing a revision of Like Birds Under the City Sky – the novel I wrote in November.
- I had a ton of grading that month, and students who really needed in-depth feedback on their papers.
- I had to get my completed works, queries, and pitches ready for #DVpit. This included finishing the revision of Like Birds Under the City Sky so I could pitch it.
- I was bothered by a lack of short story acceptances, and attempted to remedy that.
- I also had no clue where Community Magic was going plot-wise, and was lost in character development and world building.
After the month ended and I didn’t win CampNaNoWriMo, I didn’t do much with Community Magic. I posted my queries to forums for feedback, hoping to increase my request rate. I did another revision of Like Birds Under the City Sky. I signed up for an online class intending to use it to write short stories, but by the end of it, I was 10K words into a new WIP.
Now it’s July, and the second CampNaNoWriMo is happening. I’ve gotten feedback on the first five chapters of Community Magic, wrote a very rough query for it, and have a much better idea of what the story is, what the conflicts are, and how they will be resolved. Instead of being a pantser this month, I’m going to be a planster. I’m not outlining every plot detail before it happens, but I am writing a general synopsis, identifying my destination, and thinking about the different ways I can get there.
I will finish a draft this month, and if I don’t have an agent by this time next summer, I’ll probably be querying Community Magic.