Module 7: You’re Almost There! In this module, you will consider largescale and smallscale revisions and implement a revisions strategy in your essay draft. Reading: Revision Strategies Now that you have updated your essay draft using the reverse outlining process, the final step is to engage in a more thorough process of revision. When you revise your paper, you consider waysin which the organization, content, and grammar of your essay could be improved. During the revision phase, you will likely read and reread portions of your essay time and time again. Furthermore, you will likely overhaul entire sections of your paper, returning to the draft phase and then moving on to revise once again. General Tips for Revision Before you begin revising your essay, it is helpful to consider the following general tips for revision. These tips can apply to any writing assignment. You will get plenty of practice in making largescale and smallscale changes to strengthen your writing and clarify your ideas, but this page should help you to create the conditions for embarking on the kind of selfassessment that is part of the revision process. 1. Get some distance from your paper. Set your draft aside for a while, preferably overnight or longer. When you read it again, try to assume your audience’s perspective and read your work with fresh eyes. 2. In order to get the distance you need, you will have to give yourself plenty of time to revise. Don’t wait until the night before a paper is due to attempt revisions. Instead, try to finish writing your draft at least a few days before the deadline so you have time to reread and to make the largescale and smallscale changes that are necessary. Copyright © 2017 MindEdge Inc. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited. 3. Print out a hard copy of your draft. It is often difficult to catch grammar and spelling errors when you read your paper on a computer screen, and it is just as hard to get a good sense of the whole of your paper to see where and how your draft needs reorganizing. Revising a hard copy allows you to spot these problems and to make notations directly on your draft as you read it. 4. Read your paper out loud. It is often easier to hear the parts of your draft that need clarification or correction than it is to see them. Reading your paper aloud with a pen or pencil in hand will help you locate the sentencelevel changes that need to be made and the places where your writing is confusing or unclear. Work through each of the sections below to learn how to commit different stages of revisions. Large-scale revisions After you’re sure that your argument is addressing the right content to meet your purpose, it’s time to undertake largescale revisions—those revisions that concern the organization of your ideas and filling in evidence and details to support your points. Some sections and paragraphs may require rewriting at this stage, but you don’t need to look for proofreading errors yet. Since you’ll be adding, removing, moving, and changing sentences to better emphasize your overall meaning, you don’t need to get bogged down into the details of sentence structure or punctuation quite yet. When you return to your draft, begin by assessing the paper as a whole. Is your thesis statement clearly stated? Do your major points support your thesis statement? Are the types of points you need to address to satisfy assignment requirements present? Have you summarized opposing viewpoints when appropriate? Have you summarized potential objections, if necessary? Open up your essay draft in a word processing program and highlight the parts of the essay that respond to these requirements. You may even use your word processor’s commenting feature to add a comment to state the role of the section in your essay. If you can’t identify a section that serves one of these functions, you should create one and support that section with more details and evidence. Small-scale revisions After your paragraphs are in order, it’s time to focus on sentencelevel changes. This part of the revision process is made up of editing—deciding on the clearest way to present an idea—and proofreading— correcting errors in spelling, grammar, word usage, and sentence structure. Grammar errors can distract your reader and make your ideas seem hastily thrown together, even though you put significant time into your draft so far. Use the questions below to help identify and correct common errors. Are your sentences grammatically complete with a subject and a verb? Do you vary your sentences in style and length? Have you used punctuation correctly? Is your language specific enough or too vague? Is your tone appropriate? Do you understand the meaning of the words you have used? Are there any homonym errors (like its versus it’s, or their versus there)? Self-evaluation checklist Peer critique In addition to assessing your own work, it is often useful to give your paper to another person who can read your writing with fresh eyes. It may be hard for you to identify the problem areas of your draft, especially if you’ve spent a significant amount of time revising. Some people prefer to arrange a peer critique before they begin revising their papers, as peer critique can help direct the revision process. After you’ve revised and edited your paper to the best of your ability, give your paper to a friend or a teacher whose opinion you trust. Ask this person to consider both the words on the page and the larger argument and structure of your draft. Your reader should be able to summarize your argument without looking at it after reading your paper. He or she should also be able to identify and paraphrase your thesis statement. The checklist below will help you consider your progress and determine where you might improve the paper. How are you indicating the changes you’ve made during the revision process? Are you saving different versions of your paper? Is the paper properly formatted? Do you have a clear, arguable, and easily identifiable thesis? Do you have a clear focus throughout your essay that connects back to the thesis? Do you develop your main points in enough detail? Do you include enough support? Have you added new details or evidence to strengthen weaker supporting points? Have you deleted unnecessary or redundant material? Do you provide enough context in the opening paragraph(s) of your paper to orient the reader? Do you define key terms? Does your conclusion restate your main claim in fresh language and review the major supporting points? Is your paper written from an appropriate and consistent point of view? Have you considered your audience? Does your paper flow logically from one point to the next? Are there any areas that might confuse your readers? Have you edited for errors in spelling, grammar, or word usage? Have you set your paper aside for a day or two and reread it to check for clarity? Have you considered your peer critique feedback? Video Commentary: Revision Strategies Finding Fresh Eyes Sean Morey So, when you’re revising your pieces, it’s often good to have somebody else look at this piece. And so, typically, you might do peer review in your class. However, using your classmates isn’t always the best strategy for doing proofreading. Sometimes, you want somebody who’s out of your class who’s unfamiliar with the material, unfamiliar with the assignments—to take a look at it so that they’re completely out of the context in which you’re writing. And so they can look at it and not have any preconceived idea about what the teacher is looking for, or what the actual prompt is, and it gives you a much different perspective about your writing than somebody who’s in the class with you. However, sometimes it’s not always possible to find others. And so, ideally, you could put your essay away for a week or two and then come back to it when you’ve had a chance to forget about it in some ways. Now, obviously, with the constraints of a college course, that’s not always possible, especially if you’re scrambling in the last week just to get it done. And so, there’s a couple other tips that you can use in order to defamiliarize your writing so it’s not as clear to you and it’s not as kind of ingrained in your head. Often, when we read our own writing, we skip over stuff because we understand what it is—it’s familiar to us, we wrote it after all. So some of the ways to get around this is to read the piece backwards. And so I don’t mean this letterforletter read backwards, but you can start reading wordforword backwards to look for spelling. And that way it’s harder to just skip over words and miss spelling mistakes. Then you can read backwards sentencebysentence—so read the last sentence first, then read the second to last sentence first and backwards. And then you kind of aren’t paying attention to the content, but really nitpicking the grammar and the mechanics and the style and those kinds of things. And then finally, you can go paragraphbyparagraph backwards. So you can look at each paragraph—how it makes sense as a whole and contained—but not necessarily within the context of the whole paper. And so, this allows you to kind of, in your head, jumble up your own writing so you’re not as prone to kind of skip over mistakes that either you might miss or even mistakes that something like a word processor spell checker misses. And so ideally get somebody else to look at it, but if you are the only person who has a chance to kind of proofread and edit and revise, those are some of the strategies you can use.