Week Four Guidance Revising our writing in a College Level Writing Class

Overview of week

In week four, we will continue our work on peer reviewing and revising the personal essay that is due in Week Five. We will also share our experiences with writing and revising—our successes and our frustrations—and all writers have both! In the APA journal, we will continue our exploration of academic writing. This week we will focus on summarizing and citing a source, specifically summarizing all or part of an essay, to support a point.

Elaboration

“To write your first draft, you banished the internal critic. Now make the critic welcome.” — Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing

“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.” — John Updike

Revision takes place on several levels. The first stage of revision is global revision and it addresses the big issues, such as focus, meaning, thesis and support, and development. After a writer makes the desired changes in the global revision stage, he or she will move to sentence level revision which is actually an editing process, so we will look at it in more detail in Week Five when we focus on editing.

Global revision involves moving big sections of the essay to another section, deleting sections completely (paragraphs, sentences, or words), and more than likely adding new paragraphs altogether, such as a stronger introduction or conclusion. An early step in the global revision process is to analyze the focus of the essay. Is the essay focused around one main idea and is that main idea clearly stated? These questions help with focus, but other important tasks are also part of global revision. Is the essay organized or are there paragraphs out of order? Does the essay “flow” (is it coherent)? Using transitions between sentences and paragraphs will help to make the essay flow smoothly. If the final draft seems choppy to you, consider checking for transitions.

Now, that the focus is clear, is the essay adequately developed? For our personal essay assignment, consider the descriptive detail. When revising to include or sharpen description, think of appealing to the senses—sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and images that appeal to the sense of touch. Do the details contribute to the meaning, the truth, and the significance of your experience? As narrative and descriptive details make a personal essay come alive, you will want to revise for literary elements like setting the scene, establishing the conflict, developing the character, refining the dialogue, and especially making clear the point of your story.

Borrowing some wisdom from writer and writing teacher, Diane Thiel (2003), we must select our details with care. She says, “we must choose which details are most crucial to the story we are trying to tell or the scene we are trying to depict” (p. 23). These choices are so important Thiel continues, because what we choose to keep or throw away “establishes the mood, tone, and direction of our piece” (p.23). As you can see, deciding what to keep and what to throw away and arranging the details effectively is what revision is all about!

References

  • Thiel, D. (2005). Crossroads: Creative writing exercises in four genres. New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Burroway, J. (2011). Imaginative writing: The elements of craft (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Longman.

Overview of Assignments:

Discussion 1: Revision versus Editing

After reading Chapter 9, compare revision techniques to editing techniques, making sure to address the following points:

  •  Discuss the key differences between revising and editing.
  •  Provide an example of what a writer does when revising and what a writer does when editing.
  • Explain how much time you believe a writer should spend on each task and why.
  •  Include a question you have about the content of the assigned reading for the week.

Discussion 2: Revision Sample

After reviewing chapters 6 & 9 in Essentials of College Writing and studying the revision checklist, revise your personal essay and post at least two pages of your revision and the revision checklist to the discussion board. Then, add a paragraph addressing the following key points:

  •  What part of your essay have you decided to revise?
  •  How did you revise it?
  •  What techniques or methods from the required resources in this course did you use to revise your essay?

Of course, before you post your assignment, be sure to visit the assignment page for the grading rubric and all the detailed instructions.

Quiz

This week’s quiz focuses on APA style and the importance of properly citing an outside academic work, an essential skill to learn to avoid plagiarism.

Assignment: APA Journal

As we continue our APA journal entries, we will focus this week on summarizing and citing that source. Please be sure to read and review the assigned resources that describe how to summarize. Both of the personal essays we have read this week use narrative and/or descriptive elements (see Chapters 6.3 and 6.4), and each has a clear purpose. Choose one of these assigned essays to write about. In a few paragraphs, do the following:

  • State the purpose of the essay
  • Describe one literary element being used in the essay (refer to Chapter 6, sections 3 and 4)
  • Explain why you think that literary element is used well by the writer.
  • Incorporate a summary of the essay or part of the essay. Cite the essay.
  • Explain how you plan to use the literary element in your personal essay.

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