A. Benedetti

National Novel Writing Month 2016 #NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again! November 2015 was the first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month and it was a huge success. I walked away with the first draft of a novel I fall more in love with every time I edit. So what happens after NaNoWriMo? How does that rough draft turn into something marketable?

It was a year-long process to get the manuscript ready to venture out in the world. Right now, it’s in the hands of a freelance editor I hired for that final polish. I hope to begin querying agents sometime in December. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

At the end of November last year, I was wiped out. I’d met my goal but it drained so much of my writing energy and my loved ones were vying for the attention I’d neglected to give them the previous month. It was time for a break. I’d read a blog about letting that first draft marinate for awhile before going back to it and found that to be solid advice. I didn’t look at it for three whole months. (This year, I’m going to shorten this to one month). When I cracked it open at the end of February, I was excited all over again and had the energy to dive into the extensive editing process.

My goal was to have the manuscript ready for Brenda Drake’s PitchWars contest in August. I always work with a deadline in mind, otherwise, I’d never finish a thing. For me, deadlines are necessary and I impose a number of them on myself. As luck would have it, a co-worker located a class being hosted by Oregon Homicide Association titled: Aquatic Death and Homicidal Drowning. Holy Moly! This was exactly what my book was about! I contacted Oregon Homicide Association and my dispatcher status made me eligible to attend the class (of course I had to pay for it but it was money well spent). The class took place while I was in the middle of my edits and couldn’t have come at a better time. My instructor was amazing and the information I learned helped authenticate the details in my manuscript.

Following the class came beta readers and my favorite critique partner (Clare Zeschky). I received feedback, made changes accordingly, and submitted to PitchWars. Although I wasn’t selected, one of the mentors, (Kellye Garrett — her book Hollywood Homicide is available for pre-order now) took me under her wing and pushed me to focus more on the mystery portion of the manuscript. A month (or more) of rewrites later, the manuscript is where it is now–with the editor. A professional will ensure the changes I made work and that every single sentence shines.

img_0927-2Trying to break into the publishing business is not an easy task and I continue to learn through each phase. I’m honing in on the process that works best for me. This year, I have a detailed outline ready to go for NaNoWriMo, my Scrivener app is loaded with characters and chapter headings, a beat sheet is completed, and the first chapter written. I’m ready to take this all the way and do it all again! This is a picture of my plotting wall, complete with cork board, white board, and poster board. I have all the colored pens, pencils, and sticky notes to accompany them.

Last year’s novel, SECRETS BELOW, is the reader’s introduction to the Aquatic Homicide Team. This year’s NaNoWriMo novel, IMMERSION, will be a new mystery told from the perspective of a different member of the team. Each story is a standalone mystery.

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