Home | Policy | Syllabus | Assignments | Links
Having asked you to REVISE one of the papers you've written this semester, I'd like to clarify a few things.
1. Revising does not mean "fixing" your paper--correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar, word choice. Rather, it means doing something more, something different, something in addition. That is, revising one of your papers means producing from it a new paper, one with a new audience, a new purpose, etc.
2. Revising a paper does not guarantee that you'll receive a higher grade. What you'll be graded on is the quality of your revision and the final product that results from that revision process.
3. In many ways, you've been revising your first paper as you've developed your second and third paper for this class. Many of you have continued to work with the same problem or issue throughout the semester, and in each of your papers you have made use of materials gleaned from earlier papers. For this last paper, you'll, in effect, being doing the same thing--developing yet another paper based on the work you've done throughout the semester.
4. Nothing is more useful to a writer than readers' feedback. I strongly encourage you to make good use of our class workshops and my office hours. I'm here to help and am happy to read and discuss your revisions with you. So, come see me!
Now, for some thoughts on revising:
revise well, you must be a creative and imaginative reader of your own work, a reader who
can anticipate another reader's response
and see new ways the writing might evolve. Strong revisers develop a "critical zoom
lens" that allows them to shift
perspective from broad overview to minute detail, and to see how these levels of
Spotting grammatical and mechanical
problems is only a minor concern here. Much more important is the need to see the big
picture, the overall effect of your
words on your reader. Consider the structure, the level of complexity. Then focus in
on individual sentences and
words. Read for fluency and precision. Step back and imagine you're another person coming
piece for the first time:
Learning to revise well means learning
to ask and answer such questions about your own writing. It requires keeping an open
mind about your work and being willing to
go back over it again and again.
Writer, Reader, Purpose--The Writing Context
The fact that writing is a response to specific circumstances has many implications. The better you understand the circumstances that prompt your writing and the rhetorical situation, the more effectively you can respond, refining and adjusting your style to suit these different contexts.
When you write, you may first look at the subject primarily from your own point of view. As you size up the situation, however, you should begin to ask: Who is my reader? What purpose do I hope to achieve? What will I need to say in order to accomplish this purpose?
As you ask such questions, you may realize that your reader will be looking at the subject from a different perspective. Your more thoughtful readers are likely to ask questions such as: What sort of person wrote this? What purpose does this person hope to accomplish? How has the writing's content been shaped by the writer's experience and motives?
Understanding the writing context requires seeing from multiple viewpoints, but it also requires understanding that these viewpoints intersect and interrelate. Now some new questions begin to appear: What sort of person will my reader envision me to be? To what extent will my reader understand and sympathize with my purpose in writing? What kinds and amounts of information should my reader be given? How should I present this information in order to achieve my purpose in writing?
Unity of Purpose
As you revise you'll want to get all
parts of your paper working together to produce a unified effect. Just as a basketball
team whose members work as a
unit has a better chance of success than one whose members work at cross-purposes, the
papers you write--whether
letters, reports, or essays--will more likely succeed if they're unified, if they have a
singleness of purpose to
which every word contributes.
Hardly ever do you write something unless you have a purpose. That purpose may be to ask a favor, to inform, to console, or a hundred other things; but it will be there even if only partially defined in your own mind. The first step toward creating unity is to make that purpose clear, first to yourself and then to your reader. In other words, know why you're writing and let your reader know also.
If you can state your purpose clearly in one sentence, so much the better. That sentence can serve as a center around which to organize your ideas. Whether you use it in your writing or not, it will help you clarify your thoughts so you can decide what you should say and what you should leave out.
Tightening means cutting extra words, all those that don't contribute anything important to your message. Most writers use far more words than necessary. They don't attach enough value to the individual word. As a result, their writing often seems cluttered. It's hard to focus on the central ideas because so many unimportant words get in the way.
The aim in every case is to make your writing more smooth and vivid, more expressive of your meaning. In fact, that's the aim of revision in general: to make every word work.
1) You could do a paper that combines your work on paper 1 and paper 2. I would see
this as a very detailed analysis of the conjectures on your issue and the values that
inform them. You would need to use the value terms from the assignment sheet and invention
work from paper 2. I don't think you would have to take a position as you did in paper 2,
but you should include a comparison of the values each conjecture holds and which one (s)
is (are) superior based on criteria that you explain.
2) You could do a creative approach in which you create a set of dialogues or a short story in which people are debating your issue. You would then do an evaluation through your characters. Be sure to have them discuss the values that inform their conjectures and have themdebate those values. I hope some of you will try this approach. I think it could be fun to do and would give you a lot of creative freedom.