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Revising Worksheet

English 127
Research Writing

Revising is about more than fixing mistakes, it is about re-visioning or seeing again.  Given the time between your first and final drafts, may have been able to do more thinking and reading.  You may have received feedback from a classmate or the professor.  Rereading your first draft might have sparked some new ideas or revealed problem areas that you didn't notice the first time around. 

Also see CR, Chs 14 & 17 (pp. 203-210; 249-269).  If you are able to, I also recommend that you take your drafts (along with the relevant) assignment guidelines) to the GRCC Writing Center (RLC 173, Mon-Fri 9 am - 3 pm; online tutoring available; check hours for summer quarter) or the Tutoring and Resource Center on the 2nd floor of Holman Library (check hours).  These centers have trained tutors who can help you fulfill the requirements of your writing assignment, identify problem areas, and help you to edit and revise your essays without doing the work for you.  Ultimately, your revision process and the final draft are your own responsibility.  Don't rely on anyone else, including the professor of the course, to point out everything that needs to be fixed, improved or reorganized. 

In particular, beyond correcting mistakes, you should even be attentive to improving your style.  This is very time-consuming, and only you can make the required effort to see positive results in this regard.  Below you will find a worksheet that you can use to go through your draft several times to improve style and effectiveness. 

Print out a hardcopy of your own papers and mark them up heartlessly!  Also go through any revising checklists in a handbook you may have.  You might use a highlighter and different colored pens for the worksheet below. 

  1. [   ] Bracket the first clause or element (words or phrases) of each sentence.  Here are some examples:  "[The hills] are alive with the sound of music" (this sentence begins with the subject).  "[With the sound of music,] the hills are alive" (this sentence begins with an adverbial (prepositional) clause).  Going through your entire draft and bracketing the beginning elements will allow you to see if you have sentence variety or if you are relying on the same sentence structure (the most common sentence structure is subject-verb, e.g., "I go.").  If your sentences don't have sufficient variety, change some of them: e.g., move some adverbs and adverbial modifiers to the beginning, or try inverting some sentences.
  2. D Place a triangle around each use of a pronoun in your paper (it, I, me, she, they, him, these, etc.). What does "it" refer to?  In general, avoid the use of first person (I, me) in academic writing unless you are relating a personal experience.
  3. X Put an "X" through filler words that add clutter: e.g., there are, a lot, very, really, at this point, so (if it as an intensifier, as in "so neat"); avoid beginning sentences with "It is."

  4. =====  Double underline all verbs: examine them for interest, intensity, and precision. Instead of generic verbs, e.g., "We walked through the park," stretch for more vivid possibilities: "We skipped, meandered, sauntered…."
  5. O Circle all forms of the verb "to be": is, am, was, be, being, been, were, are, etc., and make them stronger, e.g., "The cows were eating in the pasture" can become "Lazily, the cows grazed in the pasture."  Correct unnecessary instances of passive voice to active, e.g., "It is believed that this bill will resolve the problems of deforestation" should become "Senator X believes that this bill will resolve the problems of deforestation."
  6. ____ Underline the topic sentence of each paragraph. Make sure you have just one.  Does it connect to the thesis (main claim) of your paper? Have you included support for the topic sentence?  Have you analyzed the support, explaining what it means, why it is important, and how it connects to your thesis?