How to Master the Art of Revising

Are you struggling with the process of revising your work? It may seem like a daunting task, but it is well worth it in the end. Before you start, make sure you are in the right mindset to revise and that you have lots of time. Make sure to organize your thoughts into something structured so that your mind can stay on track when editing/revising. It will prevent confusion and help you to focus on what needs to be done.

What is revision?

Revision is the process of editing and fine-tuning the piece you have produced as part of your final writing assignment. There are different types of revision, but the main objective for revision is to make the piece better and clearer. Sometimes, it can be a simple matter of polishing a few sentences, while other times, you may find that your entire piece needs to be completely rewritten.

First, read through your paper at least once to fully understand what you are trying to say. Often, when reading a paper, it can be hard to pick up on your intended meaning, and you may need to go back and reread it with a different mindset. Ask yourself: is my message clear? If not, what part needs clarification? Are the words I choose the right ones to appeal to the appropriate audience? Do I need more examples or evidence? Make a list of everything that you think needs work.

Next, determine which parts you are going to start with. Some ideas for starting points include the introduction, the thesis statement, or any other section that is particularly unclear. Start with your first issue and go down your list while keeping in mind what you are trying to communicate. Fix as many issues as possible before moving on to the next item on your list (but try not to rewrite an entire paper in one sitting). If you can’t get something right away, don’t worry. It can be tempting to rewrite everything right away, but keep in mind that your first pass is likely to be the most important for the sake of clarity. You want to find what is difficult or unclear to read while making sure you convey the message as clearly as possible.

Responding and Redrafting

How do you turn a second or third draft into a good draft? How do you know when your paper has been written well? There is no formula, but the best advice I can give is to use many student writers as an audience. Ask people you trust to read your work and ask them to be honest. If they don’t understand something, ask them to come back later when they have read the entire paper to better assess what the main idea is.

When done with one draft, sit down and think about how to respond to the comments you have received and what changes you want to make. You may not change all of it, but change it up until you have a draft that is as close to your original outline as possible.

Next, take your draft and go through each section from the feedback you got during revision. What are some things that they say that are unclear or unclear? Fix these issues before moving onto the next section. If you have no feedback, are you still in agreement with yourself and your paper?

Typing Up, Proofreading, and the Submission Process

Now that you have completed editing your paper, the next step is to type it all up neatly. Make sure to punctuate well (but not too much). Proofread for errors and fix any punctuation that isn’t clear or doesn’t flow well. Also, at this point you should have typed all of your main ideas in the right columns. It will make it easier to find the main idea as you read through your paper.

If you have received feedback on your paper, put all of that into a separate document with each comment on its line. Then review the feedback and make a list of what needs to be changed. Consider using these if you are planning on doing another draft.

When you are ready to submit, email all of the attachments to your instructor and ask for any other comments or suggestions they may have for you.

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