Saturday, May 10, 2014

Successful Revising Techniques

Rewriting is the essence of writing well—where the game is won or lost.
—William Zinsser

This is very true - instructors don't expect everything in the first draft and, in fact, expect what Anne Lammott would call a "shitty first draft."

Here is some basic advice when it comes to revising drafts:
1) Revision is NOT just about fixing grammar and spelling. 
2) Revision is NOT just about moving some words around or finding every synonym Word has to offer. 
3) REREAD the prompt.  Are you answering the question being proffered, or have you gone off on some tangent? Get back on track and revise towards the prompt.
4) Check in with your thesis.  Is this the paper you just wrote, or did you discover a new approach towards the topic as you wrote your exploratory draft?  Make necessary adjustments. 
5)  When revising the next draft "think big"....what kind of evidence (stats, facts, quotes, examples) do you need to support ALL of your points?  Does your paper display a stunning use of ethos, pathos, and logos? 
6) Oh, and last of all know this, revision should take a lot longer than your initial draft.  So give yourself time to write a final draft.
This isn't the be-all list of revision, revision is a personal process and many successful revisers have different strategies.

What is the most successful strategy you employ when revising an essay?

33 comments:

  1. I found this article especially helpful. It can be extremely overwhelming to try and pull a paper out of thin air, which is what some students, including myself, will sometimes try to do. We forget that writing is a process, and a complex one at that. In order to have a successfully written paper, one must be prepared to take a bunch of little steps to make the paper great. For myself in particular, I often do not revise my final paper as much as I would like to. I liked this article because it reminded me that revision is a process, and that it takes time to create an A paper.

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  2. Going back to the beginning of high school I was never taught the correct way to revise any essay or any kind of work. I have always thought revision was all about fixing grammar and making sure I had five paragraphs. But now I have learned that revising is much more than that and it helps you organize thoughts and even add more to your essay.The most successful strategy i use for revising an essay is to write my essay over again and take it one paragraph at a time to see if information from the other paragraphs can fit elsewhere. It takes a while but it ends up being effective for me and eliminates a lot of confusion.

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  3. Many times when revising my papers, I tend to just fix the grammar mistakes and revise sentence structures. This has definitely not worked for me in the past. I once had a teacher tell me to write the first draft, throw it away, and rewrite it. I have had experiences where I should have taken some parts out of my essay, but was too attached to it to change it. I put a lot of hard work into it and I could not get rid of it. And for that reason, I found it was better to quickly a make a first draft. When I made the quick rough draft, it was easier to see what mistakes I had and revising became easier.I was not trying to only reword a sentence, but also add sentences to better my essay. To me revising an essay really depends on how attached you are to what you wrote. You will always read what you know you were trying to say, however, it may not be like that for the reader. Also, reading it from a different standpoint can also help you clarify and get rid of anything that should not be there.

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  4. For me revising is probably the most difficult of the essay writing process when i start an essay i just start writing i do not really do an outline or organize my thoughts before hand. I usually just keep writing whatever comes to mind. So when it comes to revising the most useful method i use is just reorganizing my thoughts. After i reorganize i read again then start working out the small details. i usually end up rereading a lot when i am revising and i feel like the more you read your essay you find things that you can improve on.

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  5. My top most successful strategy that I employ when revising an essay is actually listed as number 6, giving yourself time to write your final draft. Final drafts shouldn’t be last minute because when you’re doing it last minute, you’re running on short time and also you’re limiting yourself in your imagination and creativity. When it comes to writing, for me, my creativity and imagination influences me to write more because I write what’s in my mind. Of course your rough draft is your “shitty first draft,” and that’s okay, but when it comes to your final draft, you want to have a lot of time to look over your “shitty first draft,” make corrections and adjustments, and then write your final draft. What I do is plan ahead on what and when to write. I would just split days up, so I would write a page on Monday, but I would write a paragraph on Tuesday since I’m busy, then write a page and a half on Wednesday to make up for Tuesday. Planning things ahead like this helps me not feel overwhelmed in writing so much in one day and that each day I at least have something done.

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  6. The most successful strategy I employ when revising an essay is rereading it and making sure my points are clear. If my points aren't clear then I will do more research to explain my points better. Sometimes i will just have to rewrite the whole thing if I didn't do a good enough job answering what the prompt was asking me. Rereading really helps me out a lot because if I don't like the way something sounds then I'll just change the sentence and make it flow better or even take something out that I went off topic about. If i end up finding better quotes than the ones I used before then I tend to change them because sometimes the newer quotes flow better.

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  7. This article was really useful because some of the things mentioned in it, I never really thought about when writing/revising an essay.The article states that I when revising my first draft I should go back and check if the prompt is being answered or addressed. I never really go back when I revise my essays because I automatically assume since I wrote so much about it, I must have answered it. Another thing that caught my attention with this article was the part about the revision taking longer than the writing itself. I always took half the time it took to write the essay to revise it. This makes sense because with the revision, I'm not in a room being timed to write the essay. With the revision process I can look up statistics, facts and examples to make my paper more credible. The revision process is suppose to improve my paper not just with spelling and grammar but also to better the flow of the essay along with improving my ideas in a way that the audience can easily understand my paper. When I revise my paper, the most important thing is to have a better way to explain what I want to say. A lot of essays I've written in the past have started with saying what I'm going to writing about but as I go on, I drift away to a different subject and end up not saying what I want to say. Improving my thesis and conclusion has to be one of the most important part of revising for me.

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  8. This little journal is very helpful. It talks about revising and it gives you a step to step process. Revising is the best way to make a paper strong, it makes a big difference from a B+ to an A. Revising are one of the best tool you can do to a paper.The article states the when revising to go back to the first essay fix all the grammar error and fixing the thesis. I always revise when turning in the final essay. It is the best to do so.

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  9. My most successful strategy I employ when I revise my essay is I reread the essay 2-3 times while making new corrections on grammar, spelling and punctuation every time I reread it.Then once I have included all my changes I have someone else revise it and give me feed back. This blog gave me new steps to take when revising my essay or someone else's. I wasn't necessarily surprised that revision takes longer then the draft itself because my usual revision always takes about double the time. I really liked this blog because now I can take these extra steps when revising mine or someone else's essay so we can both do well on this next essay.

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  10. The most successful strategy to employ in an essay is to keep focus. After writing many essays I’ve discovered that I have struggled with keeping a focus during my essay. Writing drafts allows me to have an understanding of what I am talking about and what I really want my audience to retrieve from my essay. Although only writing one draft allows a writer to get straight to the point, it is very essential to write two or three more drafts before actually tackling the final draft. The first couple drafts allow a writer to get all of their ideas out onto paper and really understand what the prompt is asking. I believe writing drafts are necessary steps for a well-organized paper. To keep focus in my paper, first I write down the pros and cons of the topic. Whichever side I lean towards more, that’s the position I will stand on, allowing the other points to be used as my counter-argument. This strategy allows me to create strong points on both sides so that my paper can be strong and keep its focus.

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  11. The most successful thing that i get from revising drafts is actually going back and rereading the prompt and connecting it to all of the arguments made along with the thesis statement. i find it useful to refer to the prompt in order to make sure all the points relate to the prompt along with allowing the readers to give more ideas that can help relate.

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  12. I have always been told that revision is an important aspect in writing an essay, however I have never took it seriously until recently. I do not like writing essays because it is a lot of work, in my opinion. Writing an 8 pages paper then going back over it to edit ti seemed like the death of me. However, it was not until my English 1001 class when I thought I wrote a really good essay and I got my grade back and I got a “B”. I was devastated because I knew that paper I wrote was “A” worthy until I looked over it. I made the littlest mistake like grammar and spelling. I also noticed that I got off topic in the middle of the essay for a little bit. I now take revision seriously and I take it from anyone that can help me. The most successful strategy I empty when revising my essay is doing a free write, and then typing up that free write in which I become aware of my mistakes and misunderstandings. Then I have either my best friend, classmate, or roommate review it and then lastly I revision it before turning it all in. I honestly think these tips to revision will make an “B” paper turn into a “A” paper in no time.

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  13. When im revising an essay that first thing i start to do is reread it. I will reread it 3 to 4 times to make sure i get all of the grammar mistakes and spelling errors. Rereading is important because it might be spelled correct but can be the wrong word and most of the time spell check doesn't catch that. The other thing i do is break down eat paragraph and brainstorm to how i could improve it, whether it may be adding more information or elaborating or one, breaking down each paragraph can help. Last thing i make sure i have a strong introduction and conclusion. Your essay can we wonderful in the middle but a sandwich is nothing without the bread!

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  14. The first, second, or third draft we write is far off from the finished product when writing a paper or essay. The first draft is almost like a brainstorming session or cluster of ideas that are written down. Rewriting an essay by looking a t a first draft is a tough process, but it is crucial to follow specific protocols in order to write final paper. The strategies I use to rewrite my paper is to prepare again for the essay prompt, by researching articles and writing down new ideas I could include for next time I sit down and write. When I rewrite a new essay it becomes a more involved piece of work that draws from old and new materials. It is important also to recognize that an initial draft may be garbage, and almost a new essay may be appropriate. However even if it is a bad first draft it allows for someone to get their ideas scripted. That is why I believe writing in class with a certain time limit is very helpful as we are not at home editing as we write our first draft. The first draft is a good foundation of someone’s direction and prepared knowledge for the subject, therefore it is best to write freely and revise later. For example, while writing this piece I had 15 grammatical errors corrected, I rewrote almost every sentence, I included my opinion and strategy on the subject, and read the piece 3 times before submitting it.

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  15. We all have to write a paper at some point in our lives. Whether it be for ourselves or a reference letter for others. I use to be the one to write a paper and turn in the first draft or a horribly revised 2nd draft that resembles the first draft very closely. To right a good paper you should be able to revise it and edit it. That is not to say that your first paper will always be wrong, but in your first paper you are just putting your thoughts together. Putting thoughts together for the first time may not come out as clear on paper as you may think.
    Ways I use to revise is first by grammar. I go through my paper once for a grammar review and checking spelling. Then I go through my paper again to check if my points are clear and make sense. Also since i am very bias on my own paper I have a friend who gets good grades on their papers revise my paper. Usually a friend grading is the best because they want me to do my best, and are willing to help me.

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  16. When it comes to revise my essay I read the whole essay once. Then look for mistakes in general and how to make the essay look better, by changing some words in a sentence to use strong vocabulary. Last but not least, I go for a third revision where I can look up the mistakes between the lines, small mistakes that makes the essay look bad. In fact there is a final fourth revision where I read the essay one last time to make sure everything sounds interesting and to make sure there is no mistakes that makes the reader bored. I personally use those steps in order to write the best essay I can.

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  17. No matter how many times you revise a paper, it can still be worked on. In high school I always thought revising was checking grammar errors and moving words around here and there. Now that I'm in college, it's more than just that. Yes, checking for grammar is important, but looking for specific things like transitions and does your paper flow properly enough so that others that read it will understand what you're talking about. Writing your first draft is not enough, there's always something that you can improve on. It's very important to reread and edit your paper whether it's an essay for school, a cover letter for a job, or writing a recommendation letter. It would look unprofessional if you didn't reread a paper or letter. You can first check for grammar, then read it again and check for transitions, and then you can go back and see if you're staying on track and making sure that your paper is flowing right. It's also helpful to have someone else read the paper for you because they might have an idea that you didn't think about. Also it's better to have a second opinion on something in case you're unsure about a certain phrase or choice of words.

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  18. Writing essays has never been a strong skill of mine. I have always thought that initially writing an essay is the hardest part of the process, but it is the revising part that is tough for me. Grammar is not as tough to revise as much as the flow and content of my essays. I never know what I should change or what I should keep in the essay from my first draft. I find myself rereading my essays a number of times. The most successful strategy that I employ when revising an essay is taking peer reviews into consideration. I like when someone peer reviews my essay and has a lot of commentary or suggestions on what I should do. I feel like that not only really helps me when I'm not sure if what I want to do would work, but it helps me look at my essay through different perspectives. Sometimes reading other people's comments about my essay turns a light bulb on in my head and I can get a better feel on how I can make revisions. Writing an essay is definitely a process and I'm still learning new ways to improve when it comes to making revisions.

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  19. I am not the best writer at all. I just was not born with the ability to draw someone in the my writing. However, I have noticed that I am very good at revising a paper and helping people with their own. But once I go back to my own paper I am unable to revise my own. The best way I can revise my own paper is after I have written it the first time I have to wait about a day and then go back and revise it. I usually have to ask other people for help. Writing has never been a strong asset of mine but I would like to think that I am slowly progressing.

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  20. I am not the best writer at all. I just was not born with the ability to draw someone in the my writing. However, I have noticed that I am very good at revising a paper and helping people with their own. But once I go back to my own paper I am unable to revise my own. The best way I can revise my own paper is after I have written it the first time I have to wait about a day and then go back and revise it. I usually have to ask other people for help. Writing has never been a strong asset of mine but I would like to think that I am slowly progressing.

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  21. Writing a paper is hard work ! I always have a hard time writing a paper. I realized as I was reading that even by having a just an idea you have to put all of the information you gather into different categorize and make sure to reread the prompt-because I always like going out of topic. When it comes to writing essays I am the worst at gathering the information and making my paper sound like it flows. When I write a paper I let it come to me like vomit. Revising is important because it allows the idea of what I wanted to say become clear to your readers. As I was reading, I realized that for my upcoming essays I need to figure out what I want to write and keep on checking my thesis as I am writing.The main part of re-visioning is being aware is the way I have worded my idea.

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  22. What is the most successful strategy you employ when revising an essay? Well, when I revise essays one thing I always keep in mind is what would I want to hear or know about how to improve my paper. It could be little criticism comments about removing an idea or going about an idea in a different way. I always try to help them the most I can with helpful advice especially with the thesis. I feel like the thesis is the piece of writing that sums everything together. If it's clearly stated with a good position of your topic, the job is done. First drafts are always up for improvement, lots of improvement. It won't be perfect, let alone will it be your final draft. With a "rough" draft, revising is key. Saying or reading out loud, your paper will help you find little mistakes that you may have missed.

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  23. I can honestly say that writing papers is not the best subject for me. The reason is because I have trouble putting words together in a paper. I sometimes feel like I write my information everywhere. However, I feel like I am best in revising other students paper because I like checking for grammar or finding run-on sentences. I strongly agree with this blog because I believe we take much more longer revising because were trying to organize our ideas differently. Otherwise, I feel like I am getting a bit better in writing essays.

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  24. The most successful revising technique i used in the past is re-reading the essay three to four times with another person. I like to re read it with another person because having an extra set of eyes look over my work and they can catch the mistakes i miss. I tend to believe that i typed things out the way i think it. When in reality I leaves a couple words out because i assume in there because i thought about it. (Recommended: Work with someone with someone of the opposite gender who is attractive because... Ya'know they can help you in more ways than one)

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  25. Writing papers is the least favorite thing I have to do. In high school I was always average when it came to writing papers. But I knew if I wanted to be really good in college I would have to get better. Ever since I used different techniques I have started to like writing papers a little more than before. One of the most successful techniques I have found is reading my draft out loud. I catch so many mistakes I wouldn't if I didn't read out loud. I tend to over look some sentences when I read in my mind. Another technique I have started is taking analyze every paragraph to make sure I don't restate information and I didn't miss any information that would be critical. After using these techniques I have started to get better grades on my papers.

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  26. I found this article pretty helpful in regards to what I do when I revise my papers. I usually just proofread my essay and fix and grammar or structure mistakes I see. Now when I proofread my papers I will always ask myself in the back of my head, "Is this following the prompt properly?" or "Am I going off topic?" It is very important to make sure that you are still following the prompt correctly or else everything you are writing about does not even matter. It is also important to make sure you are using enough logos/ethos/pathos in your paper as well so that it can be balanced with all sorts of different types of information. When I proofread, I usually go through the whole essay carefully one time but the article says that revision should take a long time so maybe the author means to read your paper multiple times just in case you missed something that you can fix the first couple times you read it. When I revise my papers I will make that I am answering the prompt correctly, not shying away from my thesis, and to also proofread multiple times to make sure everything I am trying to say is clear and that I am on track.

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  27. I know that many students hate revising. I used to be one of them in high school. They dread reading and making changes to their essays. Instead, right after they're done writing their essays, they just turn it in. But they need to know how beneficial revising essays can be. I mean I know, it needs a lot of patience and effort, but it will definitely pay off. I remember when I was in high school, I used to think that revising is only based on grammar. But when I started college, I realized that revision has many steps to it. For example, checking the prompt to see that students are not off topic, checking to see whether their body paragraphs connect to their thesis, if they included sufficient amount of evidence to support the thesis, and last but not least grammar. I learned that in order to be a successful writer, one needs to put in a lot of hard work and dedication. First off high self esteem is really important before even writing an essay because they need to think positive about themselves that "yes I can write a good essay". Students with low self esteem thinking that they can't write may have difficulty progressing.One has to be willing to make that change. One technique that I learned and that I have for students is that after they're done typing the final draft, they should just take a break and not think about it. After that they should come back to it and read it once really loud. I heard that reading essays loud can help students find their mistakes easily. Then they should read it about three times in their mind. The more free students mind is, the more they can critically think. Sometimes, when a student is stressed out, they tend to loose focus, and they get frustrated, leading them to not do well on their essays. Another advise for students is that they should exchange their essays with their classmates. Sometimes, we need the audience's point of view. If we read only our essays, we will think that it makes sense, and it's perfect. Whereas if they have someone else read their paper, they can see beyond their vision. Or they can visit a tutor in their library. These techniques can help students excel in their essays not only for their classes, but in the future as well. For example, when they write their resumes.

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  28. I have had a lot of difficulty revising my essays through high school, but I have found a few things that I do that are the best for me.I have found that by rereading the prompt then reading the essay or having it reading the essay out loud I am able to catch my mistakes much easier, and find parts of my essay that do not contribute to the prompt of my essay.I do not just do these things once I do these things a few times with each essay to make sure that I have completely revised my entire essay and i have fixed everything that I had noticed before having another person take a look at my essay.

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  29. I had to write essays for classes for the past 8 or 9 years now, and I can agree that revision has been the best technique to perfect my essay. I realize the flow of reading the essay would be in regards to how well the spelling, punctuation, and grammar stands out. Also my verb usage and vocabulary has advanced over the years being in school which makes my essay ideas and opinion easier to express. I honestly do not reread the prompt all the time after I have finished my first draft. Although when at least one other person reads the prompt and my essay they would give me great feedback. They would tell me if I followed through with the assigned task, and I perceive that to be very insightful. I recall the advice of the importance of the essay to contain the logos, pathos, ethos, facts, incidents, opinions, and commentary for the outside sources. I am glad to read this blog to refresh my memory on the importance of revision.

    Kelsi Valenzuela

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  30. Honesty I learned something new from this blog because my revision plans are exactly what this blog post says not to do. My revision usually takes like 20 mins approximately. I would never reread it to check if my paragraphs are connected with my thesis but now I’m really going to do that because I know that I do wander off towards the end of my essay. I usually revise my essay but finding synonyms so my essay doesn’t seem repetitive but now I’m going to try to adjust it by changing up the sentences such as maybe putting evidence or statistics in it or providing new facts so my reader stays connected.

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  31. I realized last year, in first semester English, that organization was going to be a challenge for me. I was in the habit of writing my rough draft and then looking for sources to fortify my paper. I was developing my thesis last and it ended up being too much work. I was easily disorganized because of it. "Drowning in research", is what I would say after the first week of incubating a prompt.

    Now, I typically develop my thesis first. Then, find the foundational articles, and finally write my rough draft. When revising my rough draft, the first thing I do is make certain I understand the prompt. If it's required that I only speak in the passive third person, I will do a search in the document for "I, us, we, our, etc" and edit accordingly. Then I check for redundancy. I want to be sure I didn't state the same idea in different words. This is usually when I make sure my transitional devices help the paper to flow and that I don't have paragraphs within paragraphs. While completing this, I am checking for "stacked sources". Essentially, I'm synthesizing at this point, looking for a balance of ethos, pathos, and logos, developing on ideas written in the draft, making sure they flow, and making sure they are written clearly. I will use a whiteboard if the organization needs drastic changes.

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  32. I have found out this article is helpful, because I always struggle when I am revising my essay. Within the tips from the essay, I have learn what should be do when it comes to revising the draft of my essay. So next time when I am doing the revision, I will consider the revision tips on my draft. by making some changes with my draft, I can do better with my final draft.

    Hsin Yi Tseng

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  33. Thanks you very much for sharing these links. Will definitely check this out..
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