You Didn’t Quit NaNo | The Rewrite

You Didn’t Quit NaNo | The Rewrite

Did you participate in National Novel Writing Month? Have you managed to complete it? Well done. You didn’t quit NaNo. Now it’s time for the rewrite.

You did it. You wrote 50 000 words in 30 days. Well done, writer. Most likely you are feeling a little dazed right now and perhaps at a bit of a loss. You have 50 000 words of what you are thinking may be a story, so the question is: now what?

You Didn’t Quit NaNo | The Rewrite

Very rarely is a manuscript ready for submission or publication after it has just been written. It’s time for the rewriting to begin. You still have a lot of work to do, but first, you should rest.


You’ve worked pretty hard, so take a break. You deserve it. Besides, it helps to come back to the story after a few weeks and then re-evaluate what you have. Right now, your head is still stuck inside the story, and you will find it hard to be objective.


Go back to why you want to write and why you wanted to write this story specifically. Jot down a few ideas, but don’t be too formal about it. This will help you when you start the rewrite to remember what you wanted to highlight or accomplish with this book.


After a few weeks, you should reread your manuscript. You’ll most likely read it more than once. The first time make notes, but be careful of jumping in and making changes. Typos and mistakes you can fix/mark as you go, but don’t get too caught up on that yet. You need to fix the story first. List things and count things for the sake of continuity.


Once you know what you need or want to do you can start making changes. Planning is good, but most plans usually suffer in the execution so don’t beat yourself up if the rewrite changes things. That’s why we do it.

A Few Common Challenges:

  1. If you need to cut a large number of words, but not necessarily whole scenes, work on trimming a few hundred words per scene. It’s less overwhelming than cutting big chunks.
  2. Look for unnecessary repetition.
  3. Characters, scenarios, and arguments can be repetitive as well, not just words.
  4. Add new scenes that clarify and add to story.
  5. Fix one thing at a time.
  6. Take your time. You wrote this book very quickly. There is no rush for the rewrite. Time is good for writers and for stories. A few of the writers in the 52 Scenes in 52 Challenge have rewritten their NaNo manuscripts during the past year and their stories are very strong. The new 52 Scenes novel writing challenge starts on 5 January 2022 if you would like to bring your NaNo manuscript. Learn more on Deadlines for Writers.
  7. Rewriting is a big undertaking. It is easier, because you have the story, but it is also harder because often the enthusiasm is gone. Only the work remains and a community and some deadlines will help with accountability.

The Last Word

You have achieved something wonderful and you can be very proud of yourself. Take some time to rest, but don’t let this book disappear into a drawer. You didn’t quit NaNo and it’s time for the rewrite.

[If you want someone else to help you, you need a professional appraisal. Please click here for information: Appraisals]

Mia Botha by Mia Botha

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Posted on: 2nd December 2021