It usually takes a long time for me to finish writing a chapter.
It goes without saying that even in a fictional context, I tend to spend a lot of time on researches: the vocabulary existed in the era (estimated 14 to 15 century AD), the clothes people wore in the era, buildings, materials, onomatopoeia or description of sound effects, etc. The more research I do, the more thematic and relatable the fictional world becomes.
I have a rule: “Anything that sounds clunky when read out loud won’t be pleasant to read quietly.”
After the actual writing, I always throw the freshly minted chapter into a text-to-speech converter and load the audiobook version to my smartphone. I spend somewhere between one to three hours listening to the chapter in context of its two adjacent chapters. If it’s boring to listen to more than once, it’s a sign the chapter needs to be rewritten.
In this stage, I also make the appropriate edits so that the story flows naturally and logically, and the writing sounds fluent. Long compounded sentences are usually broken into smaller bite-size chunks in this phase. Some words will sound better than the synonymous; same for grammar structures.
In any cases, there’s a readability rating for texts called “Gunning Fog Index“, I personally prefer the rating of my narrative as low as possible. Despite this, I tend to create characters with a bit of linguistic variety. For example, in my current project, White Destiny, some characters such as the Inventor, the Baron and the Priestess are considered “intellectual” and hence their speeches tend to have a higher fog rating than the Witch, the Archbishop or Father Felacia.
And then, I have the minstrel who uses simple but archaic vocabularies.
Finally, when all the technical gritty nitty bits are done, I revisit all previous chapters and add the new bits from the new chapter wherever appropriate and perform the same sound editing step on them. At the end of the day, this iterative improvement process keeps the story whole and consistent. It takes time but it’s how I roll.
With all due respects, I think NaNoWriMo is a great reason to force myself sit down and write. It’s just that, I hate throwing random things together, into a large mess the NaNoWriMo way, and sort them all out in one go after the month. I don’t feel comfortable developing a story without a solid foundation.
Personal experiences show that editing requires pulling bad bricks from a Jenga tower. Small edits let the tower remain standing while good bricks are added. But a large edit such as one at the end of a NaNoWriMo pulls so many bricks that the tower stands a great chance of collapse. Once the tower goes down, it will have to be built again from scratch.
And if the tower does not go down, there can only be two possibilities. It’s extraordinary luck and, a more ordinary reason, the writer has accepted the fact that his or her tower would forever be supported by a small subset of bad bricks in its foundation.
It’ll be the same this NaNoWriMo season. I’ll continue to write at my own pace, I’ll continue to be the disappointment of my cabin mates. And once again, I’ll tell them I’m sorry, and I’ll be shameless and say…
I’ll be here, I’ll always be here, when you come back next NaNoWriMo.
Your try-hard procrastinator,