Friday, November 22, 2013

Naomi Musch: When Writing The End Begins The Magic

Everyone's Story welcomes back beloved author Naomi Musch. What I appreciate about Naomi is her dedication to other writers. This week she shares tips on what to do after writing a manuscript in a month, but her advice really extends to any rough draft--on polishing and shaping that draft into a gripping, sparkling story. And Naomi, a multi-published author and former editor, definitely speaks from the heart. Please check out her book giveaway offer. She'd love to hear from you if you have any questions about your rough draft or would like to share your experiences. Looking forward to seeing you!

Book Giveaway:
Naomi is offering one copy to one randomly chosen commenter a PDF copy of her women's fiction ebook PAINT ME ALTHENA. The winner will be announced here on Friday, November 29th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

When still life artist Ethan Day discovers a fantasy painting by Althena Bell in a consignment shop, he's sure he's found Ava, his wife who abandoned him and their two little girls three years ago. Finding and rescuing her are one thing, but forgiveness and second chances are impeded by outsiders, and conflict between Ava's search for identity and Ethan's new faith might break the safety net he offers.

I've Finished My NaNo Novel. What Now? By Naomi Musch

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is winding down. A collective cheer is set to rock the globe as thousands of writers around the world conclude a month of solidarity in completing (for many) their very first novel length work. Yet, some very promising writers will file away their manuscripts in a desktop waste bin of Unpublished WIPS and fail to take the appropriate follow-up steps to NaNoWriMo that might lead to publication.

So you've finished your book, and you're pretty happy with your accomplishment, even if you feel like the end product might contain a fair amount of twaddle. You've spewed the book out in a four week flurry , and you've reached the 50K word goal, but you recognize the plot isn't as strong as you'd hoped it would be or as multi-layered. The characters were fun when they spoke to you, but in places fell flat. You suspect there's not enough story arc, character growth, or the stakes haven't been set high enough. There could be any number of troubles, because it's a first draft.

On the other hand, maybe you couldn't come up with a good ending, so you didn't bother finishing. Maybe your story sagged in the middle and never really grew taught again. Chin up! Now is not the time to shrug your shoulders and give up until next year. No wallowing!

If you don't think you'll be able to complete your novel in November, then set a new goal and finish it by any means possible, no matter how badly you think it stinks or what you feel it might be missing. Get that draft down. Discipline yourself to even 500 words a day or some other proximity.

My progress as of 11/15    
On the other hand, if you did finish or soon will (Yeah, NaNoWriMo Winner!) and you like how your story spun itself out, now is not the time to rest on your laurels either. Now it's time to move on to phase two, the first part of which might sound like a contradiction to what I said about resting on your laurels, but it's not.

After The End
1.   Set the story aside for a week or two. Even a month is not too long, but don't let it go so long that you lose interest. While your manuscript is waiting for your return, think about the plot and the characters, allow them to marinate. Revisit your notes or outline looking for plot holes, threads, or themes you could include or expand upon. Take long walks. Sort through your clothes closet. Organize your pantry or garage while you stew. This is not resting on your laurels because your brain is still actively engaged even though you aren't looking at the work.
2.   Now pull up the novel and start a read-through considering those ideas you came up with. You might come up with more or better ideas as you view the cold manuscript with fresh eyes. Certainly problems, weak spots, thin characters, or poor dialogue will grab your attention now that you've been away from it. Inconsistencies will jump out at you. This is the time for big, chunky content changes especially. Do #3 along with this.
3.   Write a synopsis. Do this as you are giving the manuscript its initial go-over. Your synopsis doesn't have to be anything fancy or fine tuned, just a sentence or two per chapter hitting on the rising action and both major and minor plot points. Later on, when you're ready to start submitting your work, you'll be glad you did this now.
4.   Take a stretch and happy dance because you can now take a month to rest on your laurels. Enjoy the holidays. Cook fun meals. Watch movies. Simply forget about the work for one month. Then in January and for however long after that it takes...
5.   Start another rewrite. Edit. Edit again. (Get feedback from a critque partner or group.) Edit one more time.
6.   Hire an editor for a professional edit or start querying.

Numbers 5 & 6 are a bit subjective. When you get a critique is up to you, though I recommend making your manuscript the best you can before you let anyone else see it. How many edits or rewrites that takes depends. For me, some manuscripts are ready for other eyes after about three go-overs. I can think of one that needed at least ten.

All this sounds like a lot of work after writing The End, but truthfully, it's not that bad. It's actually my favorite part of the novel writing process. During rewrites I don't have to be plagued by uncertainties of what happens next. I've already written the story. Rewriting gives opportunity to make each sentence crisper, each word more impactful, each scene more breath-taking, and each character's role more life-like.

So if you've just completed your first full-length manuscript, the next thing to do is get it polished. Congratulations on your accomplishment. Write on!

Naomi's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Naomi Musch on Everyone’s Story: I’ve finished my NaNo novel. Now what? (Tweet This)

Naomi Musch on the work after writing The End. (Tweet This)

Win #BookGiveaway of Naomi Musch’s #WomensFiction novel PAINT ME ALTHENA on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Naomi writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm near their five adult children and three grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles, whether the story venue is rich in American history, or along more contemporary lines.

Central to her stories is the belief that God blesses through messes, and He delights in turning lives around. For that same reason, besides her fiction writing, Naomi spent five years on the editorial board of the EPA award-winning, Christian newspaper, Living Stones News, writing true accounts of changed lives. While pursuing her fiction-writing endeavors, she spent a year as an editor with Port Yonder Press. She continues to enjoy writing for magazines and other non-fiction venues that encourage homeschooling families and young writers, and loves connecting with new friends via:

Find Naomi on the Web:
Twitter: NMusch
Goodreads: Naomi Dawn Musch
Naomi's site and blogs: 

Naomi's previous Everyone's Story segment: 

Putting Kick In Your Writing By Sharing It With Others


  1. This November has been about completing a novel from start to finish, but it has been about finishing have of a manuscript and having it ready to be submitted to the publisher by the December 1 deadline. Some nights, like tonight, will be late ones. I love Naomi's advice about just getting it done, no matter how many words you can write in a day. And your editing advice is on the money. I edit multiple times before anyone sees a section. Then it goes to my writers' group, which meets weekly, and finally a have a dear friend who is a copy editor. She reviews it, and then I edit one more time. Thanks for the reminders, Naomi! Now I'd better get back to work. :-)

    1. Lisa, I'm honored that you've interrupted deadline pressure to stop by for a visit. I love editing my work. Actually, I rather edit than write! For me, when it comes to polishing and editing, that's when the story becomes three dimensional. And when I can finally stop the negativity bouncing around in my mind that I should have surrendered my keyboard years ago.

      You're definitely blessed to have a friend who is a copy editor. Wow!

  2. Thanks for taking a break to read the piece, Lisa. Sounds like your next week is going to be a busy one. Blessings on you as you get those edits in!

  3. I didn't do NaNo, but once I start on a book, I set goals of 10k a week. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth and I keep going by telling myself I can't edit what I haven't written. Great post and great tips.

    1. Good morning, Pat. Now, there's my motivation for today: I can't edit what I haven't written. So true, my friend.

    2. That's a great goal. I like that number too. I may have to give it a try.

  4. Hi Naomi, Thanks so much for the timely post and sharing your wisdom. I'm in the middle of my first NaNo right now so it's great to get advice on what to do when November comes to a close. I'll definitely be revisiting this post at the end of the month to jog my tired out brain about the next steps.

    1. Thanks for the return visit, Linsey. I'm glad Naomi has inspired you.

      Enjoy the holidays.

    2. Woo-hoo! Go, Lindsey! Glad you found sound helpful advice.

  5. Gina ThorsenNovember 23, 2013

    Hi Naomi - I stumbled on this blog and realized, hey that writer is from northern Wisconsin - we're in a Facebook post together! Anyway, loved the post. My 2011 NaNo novel is really pulling at me to spend some quality time with and get it polished up, if only just for close friends. I've got 6K left this year, then I think I will head back to editing my 2011 manuscript. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Welcome to Everyone's Story, Gina. I'm glad you found your way here. Naomi is a true inspiration!

      Hope to see you again.

    2. Oh, hey, Gina! Glad you found the post. Sounds like you've got a good plan. That's kind of what I did last year. God speed! I'll catch ya on FB.

  6. I always thought I wanted to write a novel but after reading and reviewing many many novels, I appreciate even more what authors do to complete a work! I think you are all awesome!

    1. Rhonda, I so appreciate your visit. If there's a story burning inside of your heart to share with others, I encourage you to write it without the worry about "doing it right." You can iron out those logistical details later. Just follow what God has planted in your heart to do.

      Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Rhonda, your appreciation means tons! Thanks for those words of encouragement. I think reviewers carry an awesome responsibility too, and that takes a special skill as well. Happy holidays!

  8. It's the holiday season and my guest, Naomi Musch, has been such a wonderful guest. Again! Thanks you so much, Naomi, for all your efforts and time you've contributed. And it shows by the great number of viewer hits you've received. Also, thanks for the lovely book giveaway…

    And the winner of Naomi's giveaway of PAINT ME ALTHENA is Gina. Yea, Gina! Both Naomi and I will contact you in direct emails.

    May everyone be blessed with joy during the holidays and into the New Year.

  9. Gina ThorsenNovember 29, 2013

    Thank you both so much!

    1. You're very welcome, Gina. I'm happy you've won. Enjoy.

  10. Woo hoo! I'll be getting in touch with you, Gina. Elaine, thanks so much for having me on your blog. You have a great group of followers! Many blessings to you, and have a wonderful end of 2013!


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