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?