Rewriting a Manuscript for NaNoWriMo

For NaNoWriMo this year, I went the rebel route and worked on an existing manuscript instead of writing a new one from scratch. Going into the project, I thought the manuscript I was rewriting had been solid and wouldn’t require a lot of changes. The point of the exercise was primarily to reacquaint myself with the story and characters.

What I didn’t expect was how much I would rewrite entire sections of the manuscript. I’ve made sweeping changes, adding to the worldbuilding, filling in some missing beats, and even completely redesigning the look of the alien species in the novel.

Admittedly this is the first time I’ve ever attempted a rewrite, rather than making editing revisions. In the past, I’ve viewed rewriting as a waste of time. However, after how much I have rewritten of my manuscript, I have come to see the benefit of this approach. After having let the manuscript sit for so long, this was a necessary exercise and I’m glad I decided to do it. In the long run the novel will be better for it.

One thing that had made my progress on this novel grind to a halt three years ago were the many rejections I’d gotten. The primary feedback I was told was that it was too short to be marketable. At that time, the novel had 72,000 words, and I had written about 60,000 words toward a sequel. That’s when I decided to try and merge the two novels together, because I couldn’t imagine adding any more to the first novel without it being purely filler.

By doing this rewrite, I see now I was wrong in that regard. At the point I am at with the rewrite, I have added at least 15,000 words to the novel, and I’m only about half-way through the first novel, or a quarter of the way through the merged novel. At this point, I’m considering splitting them apart again into two novels. At the rate I am finding things to add, I can see it growing to be close to 100,000 words, which is easily within the expected length for a sci-fi novel.

I’m happy about that, because when I had to merge the two novels, it forced me to change the title, from Artifact of the Dawn to The Artifacts of Truth. While there’s nothing wrong with the new title, the original title was suggested to me by my late husband, and it had a double meaning in relation to the novel itself that I always found endearing.

I still have plenty of work to do on this manuscript, but winning NaNoWriMo as a rebel this year still feels like quite an achievement. I’m happy with as far as I did get with the endeavor, and hope to keep the momentum going until I’ve completed the rewrite and necessary revisions for this manuscript. I have high hopes that the next time I query, I’ll find an agent willing to represent my work. Although, if I don’t, I will self-publish instead. This is not a project I plan to abandon. I’ve put too much time, effort, and heart into this project and I am determined to see it through.

Stay tuned for more updates. If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, how did you do?

2 thoughts on “Rewriting a Manuscript for NaNoWriMo

  1. It’s great that you found ways to expand your novels during NaNo! I myself am an underwriter so I know exactly how you feel. For some reason, I always fall a couple thousand words short of any requirement. I think it’s because I tend to rush through things, and I also suffer from white room syndrome. Anyway, wishing you all the best with this project!

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    • Yeah, I’m huge ‘underwriter.’ This novel started off at about 55,000 words back in 2015. By 2017 I’d revised it about a dozen times and expanded it to 72,000 words. That’s why I didn’t think there was room for anything else, but I was wrong!! Thanks for the comment.

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