November has been a big month in our household.

My husband grew a moustache for Movember, and I wrote a YA dystopian thriller for NaNoWriMo. It’s a very rough first draft, but it has a beginning, a middle, an end and characters I have got to know well and become attached to.

As I said in a previous blog post, NaNo for me is not about the word count, it’s about setting writing goals, reinstating good writing habits and falling in love with being a storyteller all over again.

It’s about the weeks and months after NaNo when I will add all the bits and pieces that will turn it from a NaNo first draft into a novel.

I had so much fun working on my 2011 Nano project. I didn’t participate in NaNo forums or chats so much this year because I had so many family things happening at the same time.

The way I do NaNo is the way I usually work. I write and keep writing. I don’t stop, I don’t look back and I don’t revise. I get the story out of my head and onto the paper or computer screen. I have to empty the clutter from my brain to get to the crux of the story, to be able to look at it objectively and see what needs attention.

As I’m writing, I realise there are things I’ve left out, things that need to be expanded on, things that don’t need to be there.

I don’t do any editing as I go but I make heaps of notes about:

  • setting detail
  • plot clues/foreshadowing
  • character’s emotional responses
  • plot inconsistencies
  • character traits/habits
  • plot and setting practicalities
  • physical descriptions and artefacts that relate to the plot
  • scenes that need developing more
  • scenes that link one piece of action to another
  • linking relevant character knowledge
  • tension building
  • technologies and plot devices
  • reminding readers about turning points
  • detail about procedures/processes/schedules/habits
  • reordering things

I usually spend the first week after NaNo doing all the things I didn’t get done in November and becoming reacquainted with my family again. Then I move on to the next draft.

What do you do with your NaNo draft? Do you shelve it or do you start rewriting straight away.

I’d love you to share your experiences and any tips you have for redrafting.

Happy writing and I hope you achieved your writing goals for November.



  1. Most of the time I’ve set it aside in order to get distance from it. This year I might go back to working on last year’s Nanovel, finally get around to cleaning that up to send it out. Or break my pattern and start working on it right away, since doing a horror novel is a big personal achievement.

  2. Hi Lia,

    During the revision I go back to my rough plot arc and brainstorming which I do on butcher’s paper before I start the novel.

    I use the notes I make while writing the novel to brainstorm and add new plot points and fix ones that might not be working right or I might have got rid of completely during the rewriting process. At every new draft I re-examine the plot and try and be ‘objective’ about the structure. Having the whole plot on a piece of paper in front of me helps me get my head around the whole story and identify what’s working and whats not.


  3. They’re my brainstorming balloons, Lia. I try to arrange them in plot threads and then do arrows to interlink them:)

    Arranging things in plot threads lets me see the weight I’m giving to each part of the plot/theme and whether I need to rethink them.


  4. It helps me to look at my editing more objectively. For me that’s the hardest part – to look beyond ‘nice’ words on a page and see if they are really working in the whole scheme of things:)

  5. Love your comment about falling in love with story telling all over again- the power of writing! Such a great program with a time deadline- all productive for novel writing.
    And a YA dystopian thriller- well done Dee!

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