Blog Entry #4 – How Many Times Should I Revise My Manuscript?

“I already revised my manuscript. I don’t want to revise this damn thing again! Once is enough. Isn’t it?”

Is that what you are saying to yourself right now? It’s okay. You can admit it. I am saying that about my completed first draft of my manuscript. I don’t look forward to revising it at all. I don’t want to. They can’t make me. And that’s right, they (the critique partners, beta readers, editors or publishers) can’t. No one can make us do anything with our manuscripts. But we should want to revise our manuscripts even if we don’t want to do it. Why? Because our job is to make our manuscript as polished as possible before we finally send/re-send it out to a publisher or upload it onto Amazon via the route of self-publishing.

I’ll even go so far to say that revisions can be a positive for your manuscript. Yep, it can be a positive. Maybe you write like me. I’m a quilter. According to Janet Burroway, author of Imaginative Writing, a quilter is one who writes without attention to shape and structure. You write in a sort of puzzle format. You’ll write a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and then you piece it together to make your story. I don’t write my entire manuscript this way, but I do write at least 70% of it this way. My mind is jumping with thoughts and ideas, and if I stick to writing in chronological order, it’ll bore the shit outta me!

Don’t take my writing technique as the best way to write or think that I am poo-pooing the outline format. An outline is needed to know exactly what it is that your novel is about. Without any kind of format, you run the risk of having plot holes, weird scenes littered in your novel, and undeveloped scenes in your novel! And we all have read that type of book or have seen that type of film that leaves so many open-ended questions (not done on purpose) that have you saying, “Who was the fuckin’ editor of this shit!” Yeah, you know what books and films I’m talking about *cough* Fifty Shades of Grey & Vanilla Sky (what the fuck was wrong with Tom Cruises’ face?) Yes, those are the kinds of novels and films that leave you feeling as if you were just mind-fucked—but in the wrong way! Mind-fucking should be a good thing. Like Christopher Nolan’s, Inception, mind-fucking kind of good!

This leads me back to the revision process. Revisions can make your story really shine (I like shiny shit. Not literally but figuratively). It can showcase the potential of your piece because now you have picked through it and realized what works and doesn’t work, where you left unanswered questions, and combed through it several times to make sure that you have made your manuscript the best possible piece of work you could have written (some readers will still differ with you).

So, don’t shy away from the revision process. I know it’s another tedious and laborious process, but don’t you want your manuscript to be the best of the best? I’m striving for a gold star and not a lead star. So should you!

Oh! How many revisions should you do? I think that two-three revisions should be standard after you have completed your rough draft. Remember, you were probably revising while you were writing your first draft. So what are a few more revisions, huh? Like I said, strive for the gold star and not the lead star, “rejects”!

Blog Entry # 5 – How Valuable Are Critique Partners & Beta Readers?

Blog Entry #3 – Don’t Write Like How You Talk

When you talk to your friends, do you sometimes talk in slang or incorrect grammar? I do. I don’t talk in a lot of slang or incorrect grammar, but I use it when needed or when I am being grammatically lazy.

Here’s another question. If you were to give a public address, would you speak to the audience using slang or incorrect grammar?

No, you wouldn’t, right?

If you said, “Yes, I would use slang when addressing my audience,” I would probably ask you—No, I WOULD ask you, “Is your audience incapable of understanding the Standard English language? Or, are the audience members only your friends and family?”

The point I am getting at is slang is reserved for certain situations. Slang is reserved for when you’re comfortable talking around your friends, homies, siblings, or whomever you use it around. Slang is not okay when giving public addresses because it appears unprofessional. Using incorrect grammar around your friends, homies, siblings and others can be a slippery slope depending on the person you are talking to, but it is usually forgiven.

All right. What does all of this mean? Many of us have broken the rules concerning slang and incorrect grammar in our everyday conversation. However, where we shouldn’t break the rules when it comes to slang and incorrect grammar is in writing. I’ve done it quite a few times. I’m in a groove and my words are just pouring onto the paper or computer screen, and when I reread my work, I find myself asking aloud, “Who wrote this shit?” I’ll have present and past tense combined. I’ll have incomplete sentences or incoherent sentences. I’ll definitely have comma splices, run-on sentences, slang and whatever else shouldn’t be in my narrative writing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Slang and incorrect grammar in narrative is not a faux pas. It can exist in first-person narrative, third-person narrative, third-person subjective, and third-person limited because the character may speak in slang or use incorrect grammar. That may be his or her shtick. However, if your narrative isn’t first-person, third-person, third-person subjective or third-person limited, there shouldn’t be any use of slang or incorrect grammar in your narrative. Seriously, there shouldn’t be any. The only place where slang and incorrect grammar should be used is in dialogue.

Dialogue is a fiction writer’s best friend. At least it is my best friend (oh, how I love to write in script style ;-)). Dialogue allows you, the writer, to use slang words, incorrect grammar and thoughts that you can’t necessarily use in narrative, especially if it isn’t being used in one of the above narratives.

For example, if I wrote this as my narrative, what would you think? Oh! My narrative is third-person omniscient.

 

He ain’t see nothing. Bobby creeps up the spiraling staircase and cause he didn’t see what was ahead of him he fell and got bumped on the head as he fell over ‘em shoelaces.

 

Uh … What? Do you understand that sentence? I don’t. So, I know that you don’t! And if you think that that sentence is correct, we have to talk. The narrative above has present and past tense within it. The narrative has poor sentence structure and inconsistencies in it.

Now, suppose I took the above information in that narrative and made it into dialogue between two characters. It would be a bit more understandable.

 

“What happened to Bobby?” asks Bo.

“Man, he crept up the spiraling staircase and ‘cause he didn’t see what was ahead of him, he fell and got bumped on the head,” says Carrie.

“He probably fell over ‘em shoelaces again,” says Bo.

 

Doesn’t the wording read better and sound better in dialogue? One can surmise that the characters are comfortable speaking to one another, so correct grammar isn’t an issue between them. The incorrect grammar also keeps the dialogue from being stuffy and more conversational in a loose grammar sort of way.

Okay. Please, don’t think that I am making fun of you because I am not. I’m reading my rough draft of my second novel, and it is a doozy! It really doesn’t read well. Remember, I’m a fellow “reject” just like you.

I am only writing this blog entry to give you some advice if you are one who writes the way you talk because believe it or not, it will hold you up in the long run. Plus, you should want to get a better grasp on sentence structure, punctuation and tense. It’ll make you a better writer, and it will help you be able to edit your own work when you are finished writing your novel. I still suggest that you get a line editor or copyeditor, but if you can do a good bulk of your editing because you have a handle on grammaticism/grammar, you’ll be good. That’s called winning, my friend (thanks, Charlie Sheen).

There ya have it, homies! I’ll talk to ya later!

Blog Entry #4 – How Many Times Should I Revise My Manuscript?