joshua brewer - lesson on revising papers - final draft
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Making RevisionsTurning a good essay into a great essay
Before you begin the nitpicky task of fixing your essay on the sentence level, look at the bigger picture
Make sure all aspects of the prompt are covered Delete unnecessary sections of the essay Explain any confusing ideas and strange
concepts Add new, necessary ideas throughout the essay
Some questions to ask
Does your paper stay on point?
Is your writing clear and concise?
Will your audience be able to understand any new ideas that you presented?
Did you analyze the results in relation to your hypothesis?
Did you define all necessary terms?
Do you want to alter your hypothesis?
Now look at the smaller details Do the sentences flow? Is the diction succinct enough? Is the syntax distracting the reader from the
topic of the paper?
Rules for Good Sentences
Eliminate wordiness Not good: The dinosaur took large strides very quickly when the clouds started to drop
water. Good: The dinosaur ran from the rain.
To express actions and conditions, use specific verbs, adverbs, or adjectives rather than abstract nouns
Not good: The dinosaur made an escape when the rain came. Good: The dinosaur escaped the rain.
When it is appropriate, make the subjects of your verbs the agents of the action the verb describes
Not good: The rain was avoided by the dinosaur Good: The dinosaur avoided the rain.
Use the beginnings of your sentences to refer to (a) what you’ve already mentioned or (b) knowledge that you can assume you and your reader readily share
Not good: The meteor was what wiped out the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs never saw it coming.
Good: The dinosaurs never saw the meteor coming. The meteor wiped them all out.
Good Sentences (cont)
Put your most important ideas at the end of your sentence, as well as the information you intend to develop in the next sentence
Not good: Some scientists would say meteors made the dinosaurs go extinct, but scientists have been debating the extinction of dinosaurs for decades.
Good: For decades scientists have tried to figure out what made the dinosaurs go extinct. Some say it was caused by a meteor crash.
Don’t write all short or all long sentences. Vary them
If your sentences are feeling tangled, observe this rule: the greater the logical complexity of the thought is, the simpler the syntax of the sentences expressing it ought to be
Now You Try
Use the guidelines in this presentation to revise your virtual communities essay.
A model rough draft is available here:
A copy of the final, revised edition for the rough draft can be found here: