Chapter 3: The Writing Process, Composing, and Revising

3.5 Revising Your Draft(s)

You have a draft! In many ways, you have done a lot of the hard work by getting ideas down on paper or on the screen.

There are many steps to drafting and revising, so try to resist going straight from the first draft to final proofreading and submission. In the early stages of revision, you have the opportunity to focus on major concerns (we sometimes call them global concerns): your idea development, the essay’s focus, coherence among your ideas, and whether or not you are meeting the assignment goal.

Here are some strategies for approaching the first revision, the “shape up” phase of your draft.There is a lot of opportunity here, for you to add, delete, rearrange, expand, and realize what you would like to rethink or express differently.

First Revision (early draft revision)

Reread the Assignment sheet 

  • Before you read over your draft, reread the assignment sheet to review the assignment’s purpose. Then read your draft

Your introductory section of the essay

  • Do you have an introduction paragraph?
  • Does your Intro paragraph lead up to a thesis?
  • Is your thesis at the end of the intro? Does that thesis respond to the question on the assignment sheet?

The body of the essay

  • Does each body paragraph focus on the essay’s thesis in a direct manner?
  • Does each body paragraph focus on only one idea? When you begin to discuss a new idea, do you make a paragraph break?
  • If you need to use sources in the essay, are you doing so?
    • If you have used sources in the essay, have you cited those sources?
  • Do you have a Works Cited page for the sources you referenced?

The conclusion of the essay

  • Do you have a conclusion? If so, great. If not, keep working on it for the final draft.

Once you have gone through your own early draft review, peer reviews, and any other read-throughs and analyses of your draft, you may be ready for the final stage of revision. This final revision is not simply editing. Instead, with a final revision, you have another opportunity to “re-see” your paper, to look closely and deeply at it to make sure that it is making sense, that it flows, that it is meeting the core assignment requirements, to re-envision what the paper can be. You still have time to make major changes, such as providing additions or deleting entire sections. Those are all wonderful things to do at this final revision stage in order to make your paper stronger.

Later Draft Revisions: Making Final Changes and Getting Ready to Submit the Assignment

  • Carefully consider all feedback – Based on that feedback from readers – peer reviewers, tutors, your instructor, friends, etc., where can you make your essay more reader-friendly? Where do you need put more effort and focus?
  • Revisit the Assignment Sheet – If there are evaluation criteria, use them to evaluate your own draft. Identify in the paper where you are adhering to those criteria, where you feel like you still need work.
  • Revisit feedback on previous papers – Often, we make consistent errors in our writing from paper to paper. Read over feedback from other papers – even from other classes – and review your paper with special attention to those errors. There is still time to come talk to your professor about fixing them if you don’t understand how to avoid them!
  • Visit the Writing Center – It never hurts to have an objective pair of eyes look over your work. Bring the assignment sheet with you so that the Writing Center tutors can see what the instructor’s requirements for the assignment are. Communicate to the tutor about your key areas of concern or areas of focus.
  • Read your paper aloud – slowly – This can help you to hear any missing words or components. We often miss things when we only read because we read so quickly.
  • Ask for Instructor Feedback – If there are areas of your paper that you are struggling with, talk to your professor and ask for some guidance. It is best to visit office hours or schedule an appointment with your professor several days before the due date of the essay.

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ENG 100/101/102 at Cleveland State University by Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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