36 What Is revising?

Kathy Boylan

Once a rough draft is created, take some time to step away from the essay to get a newer and better perspective.  Then begin revising.  Revising means reexamining and rethinking the first draft, adding and deleting ideas extensively; rearranging any of the ideas, sentences, or paragraphs in the first draft; rewriting sentences and paragraphs for more variety, better flow, and more precise word choices.  Often times, you may have three or four drafts before you are finally satisfied with a final draft.  For easier revision, follow the following tips:

  • Take time between the first draft and the later revisions to approach it more objectively.


  • Revise on hard copy rather than on the computer screen.  Do not delete any drafts!  Do label each successive one. Allow yourself and others to annotate (comment on and give suggestions to improve) your draft.


  • Read the draft aloud.  Better yet, have someone else read it aloud.


  • Take advantage of opportunities to get feedback; however, do not become overwhelmed by feedback.


  • Do not allow ego to get in the way of a successful paper.


  • Revise in stages–
    1. Revise for overall meaning and structure. Does the essay develop a central point clearly and logically and are the purpose, tone, and point-of-view suited for the audience of the essay?
    2. Revise for paragraph development. Check that your paragraphs are logically ordered, unified, and specific.
    3. Revise sentence structure. Make your sentences consistent with your overall tone, varied in type and length, emphatic, and economical.


  • Finally, revise for word choices. Aim for an appropriate level of diction, word choices that do not overstate or understate, specific rather than general terms, strong verbs, only necessary modifiers, and original and nonsexist language.


  • When you get your essays back, read the essay and heed your instructor’s comments.  They can help improve your future essays.  If you do not understand your grade or the instructor’s comments, schedule a conference to discuss them with her.  As you revise your future essays, revisit the mistakes made before and be sure you avoid repeating them.



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Let's Get Writing! Copyright © 2018 by Kathy Boylan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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