Getting Started With Editing Your NaNoWriMo Novel

NoWriMo ended a month ago. We spent December recovering from all the sanity we just lost; a month of thankfulness and joy for all the things we no longer have to do, like writing 1667 words per day and pulling out hair.

But, guess what? It’s January, and that means it’s time to sit back down at the desk and read your draft over again before making those first few edits.



Annie Cate – only one of my best friends in the ENTIRE PLANET – is launching her own blog. Today. And this is like the cutest blog in the history of blogs I’m not kidding.

Not to mention, she’s multi-talented and writes both fiction and nonfiction like it’s easy and I can’t understand how she does it??


And now, back to the post. 🙂


Do you wanna know how I feel about my NaNo drafts?


They’re trash – absolute garbage. If you could read them, you’d think a chimp sat at the keyboard and hit the keys until a string of actual words came out. And you’d also think that I enjoy making my characters cry and fail at relationships.

Well, admittedly, I do. They cry/fail a lot.

(*actual novel footage*)

In short (since I’m one typo away from a full-on rant) this draft is worse than stepping on a stray LEGO piece. And obviously I do this a lot so I should know.

But you know the awesome thing about it?

A large part of NaNoWriMo is caging that monster called the ‘inner editor.’ We spend the first week (or more) trying desperately to stop editing yesterday’s work.

Wait for it… this is the good part!…

Now that you’re editing, it’s okay to have that stinking inner editor from first draft days. In fact, it’s great! Buy it a coffee or something and welcome it in.


What exactly is editing?

Editing is simple. All you have to do is make the book better.

Of course, this includes (but is not limited to): adding words, removing words, copy/pasting words, resolving unfinished storylines, swapping incorrect words for their proper substitutes, fixing dialogue to match personality, fixing plot holes, making sure paragraphs aren’t too long, tuning up or down drama, comedy, or horror, splitting lengthy sentences, adding and removing scenes, renaming things and people, checking for bad grammar, dealing with spellcheck that can’t seem to get your MC’s name correct, research, research, research, more research, and weeding through typos.

…I never said editing was easy.

flynn again

How do I get started?

The first time you edit is going to be hard. Hard. After NaNoWriMo, you’re probably at least a bit tired of your novel and want to leave it be. But these are the Now What months – better to get it done now with everybody else than by yourself!

The Marco edit is the big one that everybody dreads, that they talk about in all those writing books. I can’t tell you whether it’s easier or harder than it seems – that depends on your motivation and general speed in getting things done.

The second draft requires a lot of cut & paste, rewriting, deleting, and patience. I recommend this post by Go Teen Writers as a guide.

What if I’ve already fixed the really bad stuff?

Congrats for being ahead of the game! But, alas, my friend. It’s time for Micro Editing.

Micro editing is where you aren’t focusing on the story as a whole, and rather the smaller details. Like, how your character’s dialogue reflects his personality. Or, what word you should use in place of ‘suddenly.’ Simple things.

But, just because you are in stage two of editing doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Micro editing may have problems easier to fix, but there are a lot of them. Grammar alone may take a whole draft (I hope this doesn’t scare anybody!)

Once again, Go Teen Writers has a great guide here.


Why should I edit anyway?

Ok, this is more of a personal choice than anything else. You’re definitely not required to edit. You can just keep your draft for yourself and that’s just fine. The problem is, if you stop at the first draft with intentions of someday editing, it’s likely you’re going to forget about editing it down the line while another plot bunny takes over.


See? Cute, but not good for plot bunny #1 in the background.

Besides, after a while you’re bored with the idea. So you totally abandon poor little bunny #1 and wander off to find the next one.

Please don’t leave the bunny. The world needs your bunny.


I don’t know about y’all, but I am absolutely hooped to edit Skybound this month! I’ve been writing the end of it the past few weeks and I’m still not done, but I’ll be taking the rest of January to finish Marco edits. Then, February will bring my personal favorite, Micro!!

Isn’t it weird to think that the novels that didn’t even exist in September are going to be through 3 drafts by March?! That’s half a year!

*gasp* Do you know what that means?



Tell me how your novel is going! What’s it about? Have you begun editing yet? Or are you still finishing up draft 1?

BTW aren’t those bunnies the cutest things ever??? 😀


28 thoughts on “Getting Started With Editing Your NaNoWriMo Novel”

  1. The world needs your bunny! This profound thought is definitely going to stick with me. Great post, Abby! I really need this right now :D. I’ve won NaNoWriMo 3 years in a row, but this is the first time I’ve actually kept my “promise” to edit and continue working on my draft. This time it’s a rewrite, and somehow that’s twice as hard to work on, but still super rewarding. I’m putting together everything I did write, hoping to fill in the missing gaps I left blank or with notes, and finish up the chapters I have yet to rewrite. I’m excited about making progress, and feeling better all the time about this “editing” concept I’m still trying to wrap my writer’s head around. Your Skybound story sounds awesome, and I’d love to read it someday, when/if you feel like sharing it with anyone. ;D Happy writings, my friend!


    1. Duude I love editing. It doesn’t look like a lot now but it’s WORTH IT.

      Haha, I’ve still got a long way to go with it! Thank youu! And so much luck for your editing! throws around 4 leaf clovers like a crazy person



    Sorry 😂😂 I love these tips! Thanks so much — I edit my WIP come March (that is, if I can finish it in time, but who am I kidding OF COURSE I WILL) and these will be super helpful!




      It’s kind of funny because Light4TheLord & I were talking about how your rewriting structure is so good so I’m going to have to go find it now!! 🙂


      1. Well, right now I’m starting a story, pretty much about a girl who travels. I have tons of story ideas but I can only write 1 story at a time or it’ll get too jumbled.


      2. Yes, I do like travel! I haven’t been out of country, but I do like travel. Both in stories and real life.


      3. Well, I recently traveled to South Carolina to see the eclipse!!! We stopped at some gorgeous places. I loved Virginia a lot, it’s one of my favorite states. I have no idea why, I guess I love the scenery.


      4. My grandparents live in Arizona, so I hope I can visit soon! I’ve seen photos, I love the plants and mountains there, even though I haven’t been.


      5. I hope I’ll be able to visit Arizona sometime this year or the next. I want to be a travel photographer when I grow up, since I love travel so much. 🙂


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