Using Resources to Revise Your Writing

Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

The process of writing includes a number of steps, and revision can seem like one of the most difficult. In this lesson you'll learn about some different ways to get help with revision.

The Process

If you've ever written any kind of paper, you know that writing is a process. It has steps that, for the most part, have to be done in a certain order, and some steps that are more difficult than others. One step in the writing process that many people find challenging, is revision. There's a lot of revising that you do as you write, but once your first draft is finished, the real revision begins. The best way to ensure that your paper turns out as well written as possible is to seek some help in the revision step. There are a number of different resources you can use for this.

Interpersonal Resources

One valuable set of resources is interpersonal resources. An interpersonal resource is a person you seek help from, such as a teacher or a peer. This type of resource can help in a number of ways. One is that it helps you see your paper from a different point of view. Having a second opinion lets you see issues, like typos or poorly structured paragraphs that you might have missed before.

When working with another person, reading your paper out loud to them can be incredibly helpful. When reading out loud, you're less likely to skip over small typos or awkward sentences than if you're reading silently. It is especially useful for revision at the sentence or paragraph level. If you find yourself stumbling a lot when reading out loud, or getting lost in a particular sentence or paragraph, mark it. That's a spot that needs revision.

Teacher Conferences

One person you could meet with to discuss revision is your teacher. The advantage of this is they are completely familiar with the assignment and expectations of what you need to write, and can help steer you in the right direction, or let you know if you're off track. The best time for teacher conferences would be in the early stages of the writing process. If you are off track, you want to know before you'd have to rewrite your entire paper.

Peer Conferences

Conferences with your peers, whether they are classmates or just people you know, can be helpful at any stage in the writing process. In particular, if they are unfamiliar with the assignment, they can tell you if the paper makes sense as a whole. If your reader can't understand your paper without reading the assignment first, some revision needs to be done. Having a peer read your paper, or reading it to a peer, can also help you see weak or confusing spots, as well as structural issues at the paragraph and paper level.

Peers and teachers are excellent resources for revision

Reference Materials

There are also a number of online resources you can use to help with revision. If you're using a particular citation style, such as MLA or APA (two of the most common citation styles), it's helpful to look for resources based on those styles. The rules for structure and citation, as well as what needs to be included, can vary widely between styles. One excellent resource for this is the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue. This resource, created by Purdue University, offers free guides for several citation styles and is constantly updated to reflect changes in those styles.

Now, of course online materials cannot help you with the content of your paper. That part is up to you, or the interpersonal resources you use. What they can help with is structure and citation. In addition, if you're working with a particular type of paper (such as a persuasive paper), you can look up resources based on that type of writing as far as what to include, or how you might structure your paper. For example, argumentative papers need to include a counterclaim, and it should be near the end of the paper. Many different types of papers have small requirements like this.

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