Revision Steps

In this class, you’ll be rewriting as much of your draft as you can in the time provided.

The point of today’s session is to sit and work for the entire session.

You’re not posting any of the work you do today, so you can work on Microsoft Word, or on a post. As you wish.

Step one: rewrite one paragraph

Start by rewriting one of your body paragraphs. Don’t start with your opening. Write your opening after you’ve finished your body paragraphs. You’ll have a much better idea of how to open your piece once you’ve written the rest of it. Start with whichever body paragraph you want. You don’t need to start with the first one.

Your goal should be to write an entirely new paragraph. It’s almost guaranteed that whatever you write will be better than what you had. But, you always have your previous version, if you want to go back to that.

Keep your outline and your rough draft and your novel open in front of you. I like to print out a copy of my rough draft and keep them on my desk, but you may prefer to have in on screen. As you wish.

According to your outline, you should know exactly which quotes you’re using in this paragraph, and roughly what you want to say about them. Now it’s just a matter of execution.

Keep whatever you like from your rough draft. Get rid of what you don’t like. Add new sentences as necessary. Etc. Etc. It’s a new draft. You should feel inspired by the energetic parts of your old draft, and unencumbered by the chaff.

Rewrite the paragraph now. Go!

Step two: Citations

Make sure your citations are integrated properly.

  • Each citation should be attached to a sentence that precedes it. This sentence should contextualize the quote.
  • End the sentence after the citation. Don’t continue a sentence after a citation.
  • Make sure the punctuation before and after citations is correct.
  • Make sure block quotes (quotes of longer than three lines) are formatted properly.
  • Make sure dialogue is formatted properly.
  • Make sure each citation is copied exactly from the novel.
  • Refer to this document: How to Integrate Citations

Step three: eliminate repetition

You want to be vigilant in removing repetitive sentences, phrases, or words from your draft. Repetition is unconvincing. You are not going to convince people if you’re repeating yourself. The more you say one thing, the less convinced a human will be. With each repetitive statement, your point becomes weaker and weaker. So, if you say one thing once, don’t say it again. You want to get rid of repetitive sentences. This means eliminating them. Deleting them. The more you repeat something the less convinced your reader will be, and the more annoyed they will be. (get rid of repetition, is what I’m saying).

Look for any repetitive sentences in your rewritten paragraph, and get rid of them.

Step four: analyzing your analysis

For each citation you provide, you want to make sure you’re looking at closely as possible at any word, phrase, or image that could contain more meaning. What to watch out for:

  • Strong imagery
  • Metaphor
  • Ambiguous words
  •  Words that convey emotion
  • Meaningful action or body language
  • Anything that fits into greater themes or patterns in the novel
  • anything else that appears to contain meaning beyond the literal meaning

Comb through your paragraph. Look at the analysis that follows each citation. Are you looking at the citation closely enough? Add sentences of analysis as necessary.

Step five: Transitions

Between each argument or each new idea, you should have an appropriate transitional word or phrase. Here is a document listing useful transitions.

Add transitional words or phrases as necessary.

Step six: First sentence

Now that you’ve rewritten your paragraph, take a look at the first sentence. In all likelihood, you can write a better sentence.

Reread your paragraph.

Reread the first sentence. You want the sentence to gently introduce the reader to whatever ideas will be in the paragraph. You want it to follow logically from the last sentence of the previous paragraph (which you maybe haven’t rewritten yet).

It should be a clear sentence that makes an analytical statement.

“Lionel calls the Garbage Cop to find out important information” is a factual statement. This is not what you want in your first line.

“Lionel’s interactions with the Garbage Cop reveal strengths in his character that we haven’t seen up to this point” is an analytical statement. These are the kinds of things you want in your first line.

Rewrite or revise the first sentence.

Step seven: Last sentence

You want the last sentence of each paragraph to end off on a punchy and memorable note. It should try to tie everything together, and lead gracefully into the first sentence of the next paragraph. Last sentences of paragraphs are often short.

Reread your paragraph and your last sentence.

Rewrite or revise your last sentence to make it stronger.

 Repeat steps 1-7 for each body paragraph in your essay. 

Step eight: revisit main idea

After you’ve rewritten all your body paragraphs, it’s time to revisit your main idea.

Likely, you have a clearer picture of what you’re trying to say in your essay.

Does your main idea state it as precisely as possible?

Rewrite your logline or main idea, so it’s as precise to what you’re arguing for in your essay as possible.

Step nine: rewrite your opening

This is a good moment to rewrite your opening. Like you did for the body paragraphs, keep whatever you like, and get rid of the rest.

  • Opening is where you can really be creative.
  • Consider audience and purpose: letter to Ed Norton trying to sell him on your idea.
  • Your writing can be playful, and set the tone for rest of piece.
  • Should contain your logline, or main idea.
  • Should be pretty short. A short paragraph
  • You should state the title of the book at the author’s name somewhere in your opening.
  • Titles of novels should be in Italics. Motherless Brooklyn.
  • Spell the author’s name correctly.

Step ten: write a short closing paragraph

Your closing can be super short, a few sentences should do it.

Stay away from the standard academic “in conclusion” and then proceed to summarize your main points. You don’t need to summarize your main points. You already said them (see note on repetition above).

You basically want to get out of there as quickly as possible. The date is over, you had a good time, you just told a good joke, and it’s a good time to end the evening. You can talk about other ideas you didn’t have time to discuss, raise possible areas of discussion for another paper, or raise some questions you didn’t have time to answer. You can gracefully reflect on your process with the ideas in this piece. I don’t know. I don’t have good advice about how to write an ending. Try something.

Step eleven: Give it another read through.

Now that your whole essay is in front of you, look for all of the things in steps 1-7 again.

Step twelve: Style

Once you have all your content done, it’s time to think more about the style of your writing. One thing to consider: in order to maintain maximal interest, vary the lengths of your sentences. Have some shorter ones. Follow that up with longer sentences, ones that delight our imagination and tickle our thirst for original, unique ideas and leave us hungry for more of your brilliance. Then, maybe a medium-length sentence, for effect. You can even add in very short little punchy sentences that produce a desired effect. Like this.

Step thirteen: words

Writing is made up of individual words. Duh. But this is important. You want to make sure that your words are:

  • Precise. Use the right word, and use the most precise one possible. Am I referring to a house? An apartment? A pied-a-terre ? A crash pad? A safe haven? A dump? A palace?
  • Varied. In drafts it’s easy to repeat the same word over and over again. Try to vary your words as much as possible. Use a dictionary and thesaurus. Use them!
  • Spelled correctly

Read through your draft, seeing if you can be more precise and varied in your use of words.

Final steps

Step fourteen: editing for grammar

Everyone makes grammatical mistakes when they write drafts. Even the best writer in the world. But you can’t apply for a job or a university or send a memo to your boss or a letter to customers that is full of grammatical mistakes.

Print out your draft and edit on that. There are mistakes you’ll catch on the page that you won’t catch on a screen.

Read your draft out loud. Reading it out loud will allow you to catch any weird-sounding sentences.

Vigilantly watch out for the small things. One good idea is to read the draft over a bunch of times, each time looking for one thing. Here are something things to watch out for:

  • Apostrophes
  • Spelling
  • punctuation
  • Making sure all of your sentences are full sentences
  • Making sure you have to run-on sentences
  • putting an S at the end of words wherever it belongs
  • making sure your verbs are in the present tense when discussing action in the novel (Lionel goes to the Zendo, speaks to Gerard, sleeps with Kimmery…)
  • Any other grammatical issues that you see.

Step fifteen: Works Cited

Add a list of works cited. List the novel, and any other sources you may have consulted. The Dawson library has instructions on how to write a Works Cited in MLA format.

Step sixteen: Add a title

For me, this is the most fun part. Try to come up with something concise, fun, and that represents what you’re saying in your paper. Don’t write “Film Assignment Final Draft.” Do your best.

Step seventeen: by……

Write your name at the top of your post. Write “by” and then your name. Be a proud author.

Step eighteen: include a feature image

The dessert of this exercise. Search the web for a fun and appropriate image. See the panel on the left that says “Featured Image”? That’s where you post your feature image.

Step nineteen: publish

Publish your post to the category “FA Final Draft.” (Don’t click on “FA Rough Draft” by accident)

Step twenty: party time

Take some time to feel good about what you’ve done. This was a difficult task. A real accomplishment. Go and spend quality time doing something that brings you joy.





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