The writing process does not end with your first draft. Revising means “seeing again” and that is exactly what you do when you revise—you see your writing again from as many different angles as possible. More specifically, revising your writing means working with it so that it says exactly what you mean in the most effective way. Revision involves both content (what you are trying to say) and form (how you deliver your message). Revising content consists of working with your words until they express your ideas as accurately and completely as possible.
Revising form consists of working with the organization of your writing. Revising Checklist When you revise, you look closely at five basic elements of your paragraph, listed in the following checklist: TOPIC SENTENCE • Does the topic sentence convey the paragraph’s controlling idea? • Does the topic sentence appear as the first or last sentence of the paragraph? DEVELOPMENT • Does the paragraph contain specific details that support the topic sentence? • Does the paragraph include enough details to explain the topic sentence fully? UNITY • Do all the sentences in the paragraph support the topic sentence?
ORGANIZATION • Is the paragraph organized logically? COHERENCE • Do the sentences move smoothly and logically from one sentence to the next? Revising the Topic Sentence and Supporting Details Every paragraph has a topic sentence that states its controlling idea. The topic sentence gives direction to the rest of the paragraph. It consists of both a limited topic and a statement about that topic. Generally, the topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, but occasionally it is the last sentence, as in particular-to-general organization.
Details are the building blocks that you add to construct a paragraph. The details in your paragraph should be as specific as possible, and you should provide enough details to support your topic sentence. You should use concrete words in the examples to show rather than tell the reader what you mean. Concrete words refer to anything you can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste, such as trees, boats, water, friends, and fresh bread. They make writing come alive because they help the reader picture what the writer is describing.
If you keep these guidelines in mind, you will develop your paragraphs specifically and adequately. Revising for Unity A paragraph has unity when it discusses the one idea that is introduced in the topic sentence. All the other sentences in a paragraph should expand on this controlling idea and relate to it in some way. Information that is not about the main idea is considered irrelevant and does not belong in the paragraph. To revise for unity, read your paragraph carefully, and cross out any irrelevant sentences or ideas. Revising the Organization
The organization method you choose depends to a great extent on your topic and your purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? What order will help you deliver your message as effectively and efficiently as possible? To revise the organization of your paragraph, double-check the method of organization you chose, and make sure that each of your details is in its proper place. Revising for Coherence A paragraph is coherent when its parts cohere, or stick together. A coherent paragraph is smooth, not choppy, and readers can move logically from one thought to the next, seeing a clear relationship between the ideas.
Here are four different strategies that writers use to help readers follow their ideas: transitions, repeated words, synonyms, and pronouns. Transitions: Transitional words and phrases are like bridges or links between thoughts. They show your readers how one idea is related to another or when you are moving on to a new point. Good use of transitions makes your writing smooth, rather than choppy. Choppy: I watch different kinds of boats on the river. I see rowboats, sailboats, motorboats, and freight liners. Smooth: I watch different kinds of boats on the river. For instance, I see rowboats, sailboats, motorboats, and freight liners.
Repeated Words: Repeating key words also helps bind the sentences of a paragraph together and guide readers through its ideas. At the same time, too much repetition becomes boring. Effective Repetition: Sometimes I think of a kaleidoscope, and other times I think of a color wheel that spins in slow motion. Synonyms: Next, using synonyms can link your sentences and help you avoid needless repetition. Synonyms are words with identical or similar meanings. They can add variety and interest to your writing. A thesaurus, or book of synonyms, can help you locate the best replacements for specific words.
In the following example, a writer, when describing the view from a ridge overlooking a city, varies his description in one place by using the word town instead of city. Original Reference: When I am up high above the city, I get lost in my dreams, and time doesn’t exist. Synonym: When I am up high above the town, I get lost in my dreams, and time doesn’t exist. Pronouns: The final way to link your sentences is with pronouns. When appropriate, you can replace specific words with pronouns. Not only do pronouns link your ideas, but they also keep your writing moving at a fairly fast pace.
For example, this writer uses a pronoun to get rid of a repetition of the word boats. Repetition: I watch different kinds of boats on the river. For instance, I see rowboats, sailboats, motorboats, and freight liners. The boats look like toys because I am up so high. Pronoun: I watch different kinds of boats on the river. For instance, I see rowboats, sailboats, motorboats, and freight liners. They look like toys because I am up so high. Peer Review It is very important to understand how readers view your paragraph. Having a peer read and comment on your paragraph can be a great way to help you improve it.
In peer revising workshops, a group of writers spends a few minutes reading and commenting on each person’s paragraph. When writers are reviewing each other’s paragraphs in a revising workshop, they should keep the questions from the revising checklist in mind. The writers should give each other feedback based on those questions, and they should justify their feedback. Then, after the peer revising workshop, the writers can go home and change their individual paragraphs based on the feedback they received from their peers. Using a peer revising workshop can help writers make sure that their paragraphs are as effective as possible.