Books Magazine

NaNoWriMo Tip #7: Chapter Doesn't Work? Fix It in "post."

By Josiebrown @JosieBrownCA

Both my husband and I have broadcast backgrounds. One very important lesson we learned in those previous gigs serves us well when we're editing text articles or, in the case of National Novel Writing Month, novels:

Should you feel something isn't working on your project, you can always fix it later.

Broadcast producers can always rely on post-production: the time spent in the production booth, editing the footage shot or recorded for the project. If, while shooting the segment, what you're getting on camera runs too long (exposition; needless scenes, etc), or the subject stutters or talks too much (dialogue) -- you rarely say "Cut" and start over. Instead, you'd wait until you were in the studio and saw the raw footage to determine which scenes needed to be trimmed.

The same goes for your manuscript. You job over the next few weeks is to put the story on the page. Afterward, you'll go through it page by page, chapter by chapter. If something reads false, go ahead and chop and dice it then until it reads to your satisfaction. 

This won't happen in second draft either. You'll go through several drafts before you're truly pleased with your work. Even after it sells to a publishing house (YES IT WILL SELL; YOU MUST BELIEVE THAT) you'll get notes back from your editor on how a scene or character should be tweaked. Then it will go through copy edits, where someone with a better grasp than you of grammar and syntax will take a shot at it, as well.

Because when it's ready for its public debut, your readers deserve the best story possible.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

The photo above is from the BBC TV series, THE HOUR, which is one of my favorite shows. It looks at broadcast journalism in London, during the 1950s.

I've got a question for you, and be honest: How many times do you read a chapter before you write the next one?

All comments I receive between November 1st and November 30th (midnight PT) on any of my NaNoWriMo Tips will be entered into a contest to receive all three of these novels: The Baby Planner, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, and Impossibly Tongue-Tied.

Extra point if you friend me on Twitter (

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Extra point if you re-Tweet my posts (1 per post) or share it via Facebook.

Let your fingers do the talking during National Novel Writing Month,

-- Josie

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