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?





Blog Entry #2 – Rejects, don’t worry!

So, you have finished writing your novel, and you’re ready to send it out to publishers. You’ve printed out your manuscript, stuffed it in an envelope or written an email and sent that sucker out! One of two things happened: After you dropped your manuscript in the mail/email, you screamed, “My book is garbage. They won’t like it!” or you got a nasty rejection letter saying, “At this time your manuscript isn’t what we’re looking for. Nor do we think that any other publisher will want it!” Translation of rejection letter/critique equals, YOUR BOOK IS GARBAGE!

Have I now captured your attention? The title of my blog isn’t a ploy to get you to view a list of books by authors who have written books that I think are garbage. That would have been a good premise for this blog, but that’s not what my blog is about. Your Book is Garbage is about banding together all of the “rejects” that have written books only to become dejected for the following reasons:

• self-doubt

• shitty rejection letters from publishers

• negative critique/review

• poor self-promotion skills

First, I want to say to all of the “rejects” that you should not worry about that rejection letter, critique and/or review. Fuck’em. Those publishers didn’t know talent when they saw it. The same goes for the reviewers/critiques. Well, that feel good statement doesn’t apply to all of you. ‘Cause some of y’all need some help writing a better manuscript/novel/book (what you want to call it is up to you).

Sad to say, “Your book is garbage.”

However, just because someone didn’t think that your book was worthy of being published, be it a great story or a sub par story, I want you to hold your head up. Why? Because you completed your book (I’ll go with that term). Be proud of your work! You’ve spent hours, days, months, and possibly years on your book. Most don’t even stay married as long as it took you to write your book! You like that one right there, don’t you?

All right let me get on with it. I’m not a guru on novel – oops, I mean book – I’m not a guru on book writing, but I have completed writing a book. Perhaps I can give you as well as myself a pointer or two on how to stay positive concerning writing and what we can do to not have any more people say, “Your book is garbage.” Now I haven’t been told that my first book is garbage (Self, remember to amend this statement), but I anticipate negative reviews. Hell, no one is immune to negative reviews.

Okay. Are you ready?

Pointer #1: Don’t get dissuaded by rejection letters and/or negative reviews. It happens. Rejection is a part of life. I don’t like it. No one likes it. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I am self-publishing. I’ll get to that in a later blog. I, too, am going to send out my manuscript to beta readers and critique partners and await their feedback hoping to get back only glowing reviews (yeah right!).

I also plan on sending out the physical copy of my manuscript to publishers. I want to experience the torture (I’m a masochist; I’m pretty sure of it) of printing a 178,000 page manuscript and mailing it off only to wait several agonizing weeks for an answer from a potential publisher (I’d like to get a print deal. I’ll handle the other stuff).

But back to pointer #1. I challenge you, my fellow “rejects,” to keep writing, keep sending out your manuscripts and give a fat or dainty middle finger to the rejection letters and/or critiques. It’s someone’s job to find flaws in your work, and it’s your job to take the criticism and make it work to your advantage. If you let those letters and comments get you down, readers will never get the opportunity to read your book. Isn’t that what you want? You want people to read your book. Therefore, do your job and keep writing and sending your soon-to-be bestseller out to publishers, critique partners and beta readers. What do you really have to lose?

There ya have it in a nutshell. I hope that my words have inspired you or at least motivated you. ‘Cause I want you to know that you inspire me. To know that there are fellow writers out there just like me struggling to get their work read keeps me focused. I’m not alone and neither are you.

Sorry for not introducing myself properly. I’m Terrica M. Duncan the author of the Prince Xander & the Sector of Damnation series.

My e-book release date is scheduled for 8/01/2015. Nice meeting everyone. Talk to you soon.

Next blog topic is: Blog #3 – Don’t write like you talk (that’s dialogue’s job).

That tip (don’t write like you talk) doesn’t apply to this blog. The style of this blog is conversational.

Let’s have more conversations. Shall we?!

Update: I got my first beta reader critique back and . . . their conclusion was that my book was garbage! WTF! NO! NO! Noooooo! I guess I don’t know how to write a good manuscript. Damn, I’m a reject. I suppose I talked my first negative review into existence. Oh, well! Hey, I was bummed when I read the critique. Shit, I was scratching my head and was like, “Huh?” But, the beta reader had his opinion, and I may not have agreed with all of it, but I’m thankful that the reader took the time to read my gargantuan manuscript. I guess (my eyes darting from side to side while I hold a Gerber knife in my hand. HeeHeeHee!) I won’t give the beta reader a dainty middle finger  🙁 (plus, I don’t have dainty fingers. I’ve got man hands like Lana from Archer). However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t give your reviewers one! (pssst…I really am gonna give him the finger. shhhh…that’s our secret. some secret, right?) Hey, I told y’all that you’re not alone. 😉