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The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
Edwin Schlossberg, 1945 -
American designer

Writing series

Revising and editing
writing assignments

Before the revising/editing,
take a break to gain a new perspective.
It will help you review how effectively you have communicated your message.

General review strategies:

  1. Revising takes practice:
    Try reviewing with a limited agenda, for example with focus on vocabulary,
    and build from there.
  2. Read the paper out loud to yourself.
    Read it slowly. How does it "sound?"
  3. Cover the text with a blank paper,
    and lower it down as you read for a line by line analysis.

Does the text flow in an effective manner?
Is it too long for what you wish to say? too short?
Keep in mind your audience: they do not know what you do.
They rely on what information you give them, in the order you give it to them.

Title

Does the title briefly describe and reflect the purpose of the paper?
If there are headings and sub-headings, are these similarly brief and concise?

Introductory paragraph/introduction

Get a good start!
Capture attention at the beginning or you may lose your audience.
An introduction should present the purpose in an inviting way.
Is your first sentence interesting and inviting?
Does your first paragraph predict the development of the piece?
Does it clearly introduce the subject, project, or idea to be developed?

Supporting paragraphs

Does each paragraph build the argument or story? Did you follow a plan or outline?
Is each paragraph in an effective or logical order?
Is your train of thought, or that of the "characters," clear?

Do your transitions between paragraphs work?
Are relationships between paragraphs clear?
Can any paragraphs be eliminated as unnecessary, or combined with others more effectively?

Does each sentence support only the topic sentence of that paragraph?
Can any sentences be eliminated as unnecessary,
or combined with others more effectively?
If there are side-stories or digressions,
are their purposes clear in the context of the whole?

Conclusion

Does the conclusion summarize and clarify important information
and resolve the thesis statement?
Does the conclusion leave the reader thinking?
Is it supported by the paper?

Areas of focus:

It could be that you have a troublesome area, or want to make your writing more effective.
Here are some areas of focus:

Sentences and phrases:

Sentences should be clear and logical, even short and to the point.
Sentences should flow consistently,
except in places you wish to stop the reader for emphasis.
Is the tone consistent throughout the paragraph?
Do subordinate ideas find their right place?
(Keep on guard for dangling modifiers and avoid sentence fragments.)

Prepositional phrases can modify nouns and verbs.

Words such as in, with, out, by, at are prepositions and create phrases such as:
in its place... with honors... out in the yard... by the side of the road... at a place called home... throughout the paragraph...
Avoid too many in one sentence, and make sure they are in their right place, near their subject/object or verb. Don't let them wander in the sentence, or dangle, as

Strive for consistency with parallel forms:
Pay attention to conjunctions
(and, or, not only...but also, either... or, neither...nor, both...and)

The "big picture": as you review

  • Audience:
    Can someone unfamiliar with your subject understand
    both the vocabulary/concepts and your main points?
  • Authors:
    Have you accurately represented the points of view and major findings
    of the authors of your research?
  • Subject matter:
    Have you adequately addressed the diversity of arguments
    relating to the main thesis of your study? 
    Are these presented in a neutral or unbiased presentation?
  • Conclusions:
    Are the points of view and conclusions clear that they are your own?
    Do they reference and build on the arguments developed in the body of your paper?
  • Further study:
    Are there recommendations for further research and applications?

Vocabulary:

With each piece of writing you establish a vocabulary that is used throughout.
Set aside your writing, list its key words, and return to your writing

Is there any word that lacks definition or context?
Are their any words that are emotionally-charged? If so, are they used effectively for stress?
Position important words where they are more effective (at the end or beginning of sentences/paragraphs)
Develop and use an active, descriptive vocabulary; avoid the overuse of pronouns (it, they, we, their, etc.);

Reflect on important vocabulary: anticipate reactions of your audience
Reserve the use of emotional words to create effects. What words can be strengthened to be clearer or stronger?
What words can be simplified to be clearer or stronger?

Do you over-use any words? Would synonyms add interest?

Colloquialisms are informal expressions that imitate speech.
Their use may not be clear of effective in your writing since they are so familiar, and may tend toward predictability.

Nouns:

Avoid adjective-noun strings:

Avoid using vague nouns and verbs:

Adjectives

Are vivid/descriptive words used to describe characters and/or events?
Do they fit into the flow or do they make the reader pause? If pause, is it appropriate and/or effective?

Verbs:
Action/active verbs are more precise or descriptive.

Did she say she won the promotion, or did she
whisper, stress,
or confide it?

We investigated the accident is stronger than
We conducted an investigation of the accident

Many reasons account for our success is stronger than
There are many reasons for our success
Avoid It is and There are

The child slammed the door! is more powerful than
The door was slammed by the child!

Avoid forms of "to be" (as in the second, passive sentence)

When you get your assignment back,
ask for feedback on the above in order to improve your skills.


Seven stages of writing assignments:

Index | Develop your topic (1) | Identify your audience (2) |
Research (3) | Research with notecards | Summarizing research |
Prewrite (4) | Draft/write (5) | Revise (6) | Proofread (7)