As you prepare to write your first discussion for this week, take a few moments to do the following: •Read Chapter 9 of Essentials of College Writing. •Review the Grading Rubric for this discussion. head with Qmarks.png Reflect: Take time to reflect on writing as a process—how ideas develop through the use of language, and the changing of that language. Reflect on the differences between revising and editing as described in the textbook.> writting hand.png Write: In your initial post for this discussion •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. Your initial post must be 200 to 300 words in length and posted by Day 3. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly sources, and properly cite any references as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
Please include question about this week reading…
My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping.
I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn’t work, or what simply is not alive.
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
1. Practice revising your paper.
2. Examine your paper for focus, organi- zation, and completion.
3. Distinguish between revision and editing.
4. Understand language choice concepts such as tone, genre, denotation/ connotation, and synonyms.
5. Utilize editing strategies to check for clarity and conciseness, as well as proofreading and format-checking strategies.
9Revising, Editing, and Proofreading
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.1 The First Draft
Writing is more akin to running a marathon than a sprint: Pacing yourself for a longer run that has a varying terrain is the best mental approach to writing. In writing an essay, your terrain consists not only of the prewriting process discussed in Chapter 4 but also the revis- ing, editing, and proofreading stages. When a writer tries to sprint through one or more of these stages rather than taking the leisurely marathon route, the final writing product suffers. Depending on the length of the assignment and the amount of time given to com- plete it, revising, editing, and proofreading should occur over the course of many days, if not weeks. Like marathon running, writing requires conditioning and patience: The more a writer conditions and paces herself, the easier it is to produce a successful final draft.
9.1 The First Draft
Always assume that you will need to spend a lot of time revising your papers. Plan to set aside the required time and avoid procrastination. All of the prewriting materials you have composed, such as an outline or a mind map, will assist you in generating the first draft of your paper. Reread those drafting materials several times to gain a sense of how to respond to a particular writing prompt and how to best organize your ideas. Look for the tentative thesis, the synthesis of ideas you wrote out while brain- storming. Refer to the tentative outline to structure the order of main points and evidence that might be used. Note main ideas and concepts that you arrived at while brainstorming.
Getting Content Down on Paper On writing a first draft, Irish author Frank O’Connor states, “I write any sort of rubbish which will cover the main outlines of the story, then I can begin to see it (Winokur, 1990, p. 243). Joyce Cary, another Irish writer, shares his method of drafting this way: “I may start anywhere, in the middle or at the end. I may go from the end to the beginning in the same day, and then from the beginning to the middle” (Winokur, 1990, p. 244).
When you are creating the first draft, keep writing until you have said everything you want to say about a certain point. Then move on to another point and write down every- thing you want to say about that point. Try not to stop writing to correct mistakes, check a word, find a different word, or otherwise edit your work. In his best selling book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, author Dan Millman writes, “There is a saying: ‘When you sit, sit; when you stand, stand; whatever you do, don’t wobble’ . . .” (Millman, 1984, p. 133). This saying can be adapted to writing: “When you write, write; when you edit, edit; whatever you do, do not wobble.” Just keep writing.
If you get stuck while you are drafting and are not sure what to say, you have several options:
• Skip over the difficult part, leave a blank space, and keep going. • Write anything, no matter how silly it sounds. • Jot down new ideas you may want to pursue in another paragraph.
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.1 The First Draft
It can be helpful to set writing time goals for yourself—for instance, you could decide that each time you sit down, you will write for one hour straight without interruptions of any kind. You will be amazed at how much you write if you do a little of this each day. The key is to keep writing.
Writers should reflect on what they have written at the end of each writ- ing session. This is often done away from the computer and even while working on something else. Ideas require time to develop, process, and refine, and many people find that their best ideas often come at random moments. Give yourself space from your actual writing after you have met your writing goal for the day.
The length of the break is ultimately up to you, but one night is a good rule of thumb—it allows enough space from your writing and yet not so much that you lose your momen- tum. This age-old wisdom is good advice for a first draft of your paper, too. If you complete your first draft in the evening, go to sleep, and then look at it the next day, you may discover that sections causing you difficulty the day before fall more easily into place when you are rested. If you complete a section of your paper or a complete draft in the morning, perhaps you will feel refreshed enough to look at what you have written in the evening: Only you will know when you are ready. Whatever the length of your break, make sure you give yourself a specific time to begin work again—and define the time you will return to your writing before you step away from your draft—so that you do not delay your progress on the assignment. Try to avoid waiting more than two days to return to your writing because that would likely interrupt the development of your ideas—you can get too far away from your writing. Make sure that you write down a tentative thesis statement as part of the first draft pro- cess; you will return to this thesis and revise it after allowing yourself some time to pro- cess what you have written. When you return to the draft, you will be looking at it with “fresh eyes,” and you will probably find that revising is much easier than it would have been if you tried to revise the draft immediately. Begin by rereading what you wrote the day before and making adjustments/revisions as necessary. Then pick up where you left off at the end of the draft, keeping in mind the day’s writing goal.
Planning for Revision and the Thesis Statement After writing your first draft and taking a break, it is time to concentrate on the next step in the writing process: revising your draft. It is sometimes difficult to know when to stop writing and begin revising. Try to write until you have developed your ideas as fully as possible. Often, it is the case that in writing a draft, ideas that you may think are not your main point could become the focus of a new paragraph. Because ideas and critical thinking emerge while you are writing, a first draft should explore your connections as thoroughly as possible.
Fuse/Thinkstock It is always advisable to “sleep on it” after writing your first draft in order to revisit it the next day with “fresh eyes.”
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.2 Revising
When you return to your draft later, reread the paper and ask yourself what main points you are arriving at. Keep in mind that you want to sort out which points best respond to the writing prompt. You may want to write down a tentative introduction and thesis statement and then draft your body paragraphs, but keep in mind that if you do this, your thesis statement is not a permanent contract. The trouble with writing a thesis statement first is that you are guessing what you are going to argue in your body paragraphs before you have written them. What you end up arguing needs to then be reflected in your thesis. Return to your thesis statement multiple times and revise it to make sure it reflects what you argue in your body paragraphs and that it directly responds to the writing prompt. A more natural way to arrive at your thesis statement is to write your body paragraphs first in an effort to discover your argument and develop your ideas. You would then reread your paragraphs several times and try to determine what main point you are working toward. Then go back and write your introductory paragraph and thesis. No matter which method you decide to use, all writing should be revised and refined until you have put forward your best, most specific, response to the writing prompt. You never should feel that what you have written on the page is something you cannot change.
Revision is the process of rereading, reflecting upon, and improving drafts or draft-ing materials. Revising often leads to rewriting, more revision, and more rewriting, as Figure 9.1 illustrates. This cycle may be repeated several times before you have a final version of your paper. Sometimes you must revise a great deal, and sometimes you must revise only a little until you meet all the criteria listed earlier in this chapter.
Figure 9.1: The revising process
Ready for editing
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.2 Revising
Revising With Feedback While it is very important that you spend time carefully revising and improving your paper, it can be just as useful to obtain feedback from your peers or from your instruc- tor. Your instructor might comment on portions of working drafts, or create peer editing
groups, or groups of your classmates who will review and comment on your draft essay. You might be given peer editing instructions or a com- menting sheet to direct the peer edit- ing feedback. Whatever method your class uses for commenting on drafts, make sure that you ask for clarifica- tion if you have any questions about what the feedback means. Allow plenty of time in between peer edit- ing or instructor feedback and your next phase of revision and develop- ment. Requests to instructors that occur the day before the paper is due are generally too late to sufficiently incorporate feedback. Check with your instructor about the class policy on this.
Revising Specific Components of the Essay Revising does not mean just reading over your paper to make sure it does not contain any errors. It means focusing your brain on the paper as a whole, not on individual words. It requires taking a big-picture view of the paper and looking at it from a holistic, visual, and organizational point of view. You might consider putting yourself in the shoes of your readers when you revise and trying to determine whether what you have written will be clear and understandable to your audience. You have four primary goals when you revise: to make sure your paper is
• Focused • Well structured and well organized • Complete • Coherent.
The purpose of revising is to make sure you have covered everything necessary in your paper, to make sure that you have directly responded to the writing prompt, to make sure that you have included sufficient evidence to support your main ideas, to make sure that you have sufficiently analyzed this evidence, and to improve your organization of ideas. When you revise, you will probably reorganize ideas, move information around so that ideas flow better, combine and restructure information into well-constructed paragraphs, rewrite content, and add material to support your ideas. You will also likely delete a lot of what you have written. It is ideal that when you write your first draft you write much more length-wise than what the assignment is asking for. Then you can go back and locate
Helena Schaeder Söderberg/Fuse/Thinkstock Revising is the process of viewing your paper as a whole to ensure that it is focused, well organized, coherent, and complete.
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.2 Revising
the best ideas and develop those more fully, while deleting the content that is off track or that does not directly respond to the prompt. When you revise, ask yourself the following four questions.
Is the Paper Focused? Does your paper have a single focus and a clear thesis statement, and does other mate- rial in the paper relate to and support this thesis? Each body paragraph should directly support your thesis statement, and every body paragraph should also offer evidence to support your main point. This can mean quoting from a text or referring to specific details from a personal experience, if you are writing a personal essay. Ask yourself whether everything you have written in the paper is relevant. Relevance deals with how well the content of your paper relates to your thesis and to the assignment. Every para- graph in your paper should have a reason or serve a purpose; if it does not, it should be removed. A great way to test this is to read your entire paper out loud to yourself. It is generally much easier to hear places in your writing that are unclear than if you just read the paper silently.
Is the Paper Well Structured and Well Organized? Make sure your paper has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion and that each section includes all the required elements discussed in the writing prompt. Verify that the main points in the body of your paper are clear and organized into effective paragraphs. Look at your paper visually. Are your ideas divided into standard paragraphs? What exactly is a standard paragraph? A paragraph should generally not be longer than a page or page and a half at most. Your paragraphs do not all have to be the same length, but bear in mind that overly short paragraphs that are only a few sentences are certainly not sufficiently developed. For most essays, a paragraph should not be shorter than about half a page. In some cases with personal essays or in writing a creative short story, it may be appropriate to occasionally write a very brief paragraph.
Every paragraph should include at least a topic sentence that directly relates to the the- sis, specific evidence to support it, and several sentences of analysis explaining how that evidence supports your paragraph’s main claim. It can be helpful to step back and look at your paper visually. Make sure that your paragraphs are not significantly longer than a page each. If you find one that is, it is likely that you have a subpoint in your paragraph, and should create new paragraph when that subpoint begins. You should always ask your instructor if you are uncertain what the assignment is asking you to do.
Is the Paper Complete? Does your paper meet the assignment length? Often writing instructors do not mind if you write a page beyond the requirement, but not writing enough is usually a problem because it means that you have not developed a complete enough response to the prompt. Review your paper to make sure you have included all the information necessary. Did you develop a main point that directly responds to the prompt and develops that idea over the course of several paragraphs? Go back and read the assignment to make sure you met all requirements. If you have overlooked something, add the missing material to your paper.
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.3 Editing
Writers often do not understand how to include enough evidence into the body para- graphs. Ideas cannot stand alone—writers always have to make sure to provide specific evidence in every body paragraph; otherwise the ideas are unsupported. There is no per- fect number of quotes that should occur in each paragraph, but each should have either direct citation or paraphrase (though paraphrasing tends to have the best use in research papers when one is paraphrasing historical information). To analyze a text carefully, one must directly cite it. Only add additional quotes to a paragraph if they add something new to the discussion.
Part of the purpose in a paper is to prove how your interpretation is supportable by con- crete evidence and to explain how that evidence supports the ideas. In almost all cases, a writing assignment asks writers to prove on the page how the interpretation is a reason- able, well-supported one. Even if an instructor asks for a personal essay in which you are to explain how you arrived at a position to a controversial topic, then you will still need to use ample evidence to support your ideas.
Is the Paper Coherent? The word coherent means “sticking together,” and revising for coherence means review- ing your work to determine whether the connections between your ideas are clear and whether your writing flows well. Writing that is coherent is easy to read and understand. Again, reading out loud is an excellent method to check for coherence. It is much easier to hear problems with coherence and moments when your writing may have gotten off track than it is to catch these problems by simply reading the paper silently to yourself. If your paper is coherent, it will not seem “choppy,” and readers will be able to follow along with your ideas as they read. Coherence is achieved by organizing ideas well, and part of this means including transitions appropriately.
Coherence also means organizing your ideas in a way that is logical, so that your ideas and paragraphs progress, one building block at a time. The specific organization of your paper depends entirely on the writing assignment. You might organize your ideas so that they follow the progress of a novel, poem, or drama chronologically, or you might orga- nize your ideas so that they develop thematically. For certain assignments, you might set up causes first and later discuss the effects of a particular study or problem.
If you have progressed to this step in the writing process and find you are having trouble, do not forget that help is available to you from several sources. If you have followed the steps above and still need assistance understanding the assignment or generating ideas, contact your instructor or teaching assistant to see whether they can offer any guidance.
There is revising your paper for content, and then there is editing your paper for clar-ity of language. Both processes are completely essential to writing a good paper. You should not worry much about editing your sentences for grammar and clarity while you are developing your ideas. It is simply trying to accomplish too many things at the same time to develop your ideas and write them flawlessly on the page all at once—and it
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.3 Editing
is unrealistic. No writer can do this in the first draft of a paper. Remember that revising is a big-picture view, whereas editing considers individual elements and details very closely. When you edit, you scrutinize issues such as language choices, the clarity and conciseness of your writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You edit when you believe the content of your paper is complete or mostly complete. However, if new ideas develop that help you to respond more fully to the writing prompt, by all means, add them to the paper.
You might want to take a short break between revising and editing to “switch gears” for the analysis you must perform during the editing step. It is impossible to look at all edit- ing issues at once, so you must make several passes through your paper to read what you have written, word for word. A good practice is to check one of the editing issues discussed below in each of your editing passes.
Style and Language When you write, your language focuses readers’ attention and creates impressions in their minds. The language you choose depends on three factors: the purpose of the writing, the audience, and the genre. Your college papers have an academic audience and will be read by your instructors and teaching assistants, and perhaps by some of your peers in your class. Recall that genre refers to a category of writing that has a particular form and technique. Appropriate language and tone for one genre is not always appropriate for another. Fiction writing, poetry, journalistic writing, business writing, marketing commu- nications, and technical writing are all different genres. Academic writing, for example, is a specific genre that tends to use a formal, educated, academic voice. In this text, for example, we have adopted a conversational tone, as we would in a classroom discussion. However, as we discussed earlier, college papers require formal language. In your college writing assignments, you should avoid slang, jargon, and contractions. Avoid informal language that you would use with friends and avoid using sayings or clichés. Often infor- mal types of language such as these are a replacement for what a writer should be saying in a paper—what she is arguing, how it is supported, and what the evidence suggests. The personal essay is at times an exception to this rule, particularly if you are asked to write about a personal experience.
Tone and Voice Language also creates what is known as the tone of your writing. The tone of a piece of writing may be positive, negative, warm, friendly, serious, sincere, humorous, or hos- tile, to name a few possibilities. Most college writing assignments are formal essays that require you to write in a way that follows the conventions of formal writing—a clear, seri- ous, academic tone that seeks to treat the reader of the essay as an educated audience. This means that your tone should always convey respect for your audience.
Remember that when you write a college paper that is a persuasive essay, and your pur- pose is to convince readers to take some action, you might occasionally make an emotional appeal to your readers. However, you must persuade primarily with logic and factual evi- dence, not simply by appealing to emotions. Educated readers immediately know when someone is trying to persuade them simply through emotions, and you would never want your readers to feel manipulated—instead, you want them to think that you have argued
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.3 Editing
persuasively and effectively through sound reasoning, logic, and evidence. So, in these papers as well, edit to avoid language that is overly emotional and attempt to find more neutral terms for emotional words.
Denotations and Connotations All forms of college writing, besides the personal essay, require language that is not overly emotional. But what does overly emotional mean? In English, words have two types of meaning: denotations and connotations. The denotation, or denotative meaning, is the most descriptive and neutral dictionary definition of a word. The connotation is what the word suggests or implies. Connotations give words their emotional impact, and this impact can be either positive or negative. For example, the description of a person as “care- ful with money,” uses fairly neutral denotative words to describe that person. However, calling a person “stingy” creates a negative tone because the words has a strong negative connotation. On the other hand, calling someone “thrifty” or “prudent” creates a positive tone and a strong positive connotation of that person in the reader’s mind. Remember that the language you choose reflects your attitude toward people, places, and things.
Trigger Words We know from our conversations with others that people often react strongly to certain language. Some words are trigger words that evoke such a strong emotional response in us that we focus on the word itself instead of what we are listening to or reading. We all have our own personal trigger words. However, some words are positive or negative to almost everyone. For example, consider advertisements you have seen. Advertisers are very aware of universal trigger words, so they do not say, “Buy our diet product; it will make you skinny.” Instead, they use words with positive connotations and tell you their product will make you slim or slender. Consider your audience and always avoid offensive or sexist language in your writing.
Synonyms Most words have synonyms, words that have similar meanings but may have very dif- ferent connotations. When you edit, make sure to keep a thesaurus handy or use the thesaurus in Microsoft Word® and review your writing to make sure your language is appropriate for the academic writing genre. The tone of your college writing should be clear and objective and should use words with neutral, denotative meanings. Academic writing calls for serious, professional, and scholarly writing, which is largely achieved by appropriate language choices and an engaged response to the writing prompt that shows a serious attempt to answer the question.
Clarity and Conciseness After checking the language in your paper, make a second editing pass to see if your writ- ing is clear and concise. Clear writing is the result of expressing your ideas so that they are understandable, and not confusing, to readers. You achieve clarity by making good language choices such as using neutral, denotative words; avoiding slang and jargon; being specific and not vague in your descriptions; and writing with a serious and profes- sional tone. You also must make your essay as grammatically correct as possible because
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.4 Proofreading
grammatical errors can profoundly impact the clarity of your writing—your ideas may be very good, but if they are not clear because what you are saying is not understandable, your readers will have no idea what your good ideas are. If grammatical errors are a sig- nificant concern for you, plan to get help early and often to work on these errors.
When writing is concise, it contains no unnecessary words. Conciseness is achieved by making good language choices, focusing on subjects and verbs in your sentences, and eliminating repetition and redundancies. Do not use multiple adjectives to describe one item in a sentence—instead, choose the one adjective that is the most adequate descriptor. Likewise, avoid using multiple verbs as synonyms side by side in a sentence. Of particular concern is to avoid using passive voice, which includes versions of the verb “to be.” You can use the word “is,” however, to describe something: “She is highly intelligent.”
Proofreading is not editing; when you proofread, your job is not to look for pos-sible language changes or to check whether punctuation and grammar is correct. These tasks should have been completed during editing, but if you do happen to find more edits you should make, you should of course go ahead and complete these. Try to make sure you complete each step as thoroughly as you can before you move on to the next one because it is much easier to focus on only one or two elements at a time. The purpose of proofreading is to take one last look at your paper to see if what is actually on the page is what you think you wrote. To accom- plish this task, you must shift your focus from reading sentences to read- ing individual words, and you must read everything on the page such as page headers, page numbers, sym- bols, numbers, bullets, and punctua- tion marks.
Proofreading Strategies If you have been working on the computer screen while you revised and edited, print your paper and proofread from the printed copy, with a pencil in hand so that you can mark errors as you find them. It is generally more effective to proofread from a printed page than to do so on the computer screen because you can see the errors more easily. Taking a break between editing and proofreading is also recommended. Proofreading is usually improved if you can look at your paper with fresh eyes.
When we read a paper we have written, we are often so absorbed in our subject that we see what we think we wrote, not what is actually there. So, to proofread effectively, we must fool our brain so that we read only one word at a time or one line of text at a time, not
iStockphoto/Thinkstock After all edits have been performed, you should always go back through your paper looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, and formatting.
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.4 Proofreading
sentences and paragraphs, as we do with normal reading. Many people, therefore, adopt special proofreading strategies to make sure they accomplish that goal. Below are some strategies for you to try. Experiment with different methods until you find one that works well for you or try a combination of strategies.
• Read aloud to yourself. Reading your paper aloud helps you determine the flow, or coherence, of your writing. It can enable you to recognize sentences that are awkward or difficult to understand. It can also help you identify sen- tences that are too long. If you run out of breath before you get to the period at the end of the sentence, you know that the sentence needs to be shorter. If you try to read through a sentence and you simply cannot or you stumble as you read, it is a sure sign that the sentence needs to be revised for clarity and/ or for grammatical errors. Remember, when you proofread, read only one word at a time and read all punctuation marks aloud as well.
• Read aloud to someone else. Many writers belong to writing groups, and one of the benefits of such groups is that you can obtain feedback from others. Read- ing a paper aloud to someone else can help both you and your listener assess the coherence of the paper. Additionally, it enables others to give you input as to whether your ideas are clear and understandable. Peer editors are a very useful part of the revision process. An instructor may set up peer editing groups, or you may talk with someone in your class and ask to work as peer editors for one another. A different perspective offers insight into the areas that can be strengthened.
• Read aloud while someone else reads along silently. Print two copies of your paper and proofread with another person. Read your paper aloud to someone else while he or she reads along silently; if you wish, you can switch roles half- way through. The person reading aloud is more likely to find problems with sentence length, coherence, and clarity while the person reading silently will often more easily see punctuation errors. You could exchange papers with someone else in your class and promise to give each other extensive feed- back. Peer editing is a very valuable technique for strengthening your papers.
• Have someone else proofread for you. If you are fortunate to have someone else who can proofread your paper for you, you might want to take advantage of the opportunity. Someone who is not as close to the paper as you are might be able to spot errors you might overlook. Remember, though, the accuracy of the final paper is your responsibility. Your instructors are not proofread- ers, but there may be resources at your school that can assist you with some proofreading.
• Proofread in a different location. Sometimes, moving away from the computer and reading your paper while you are curled up on the sofa or sitting at the kitchen table will give you a different perspective and enable you to find errors more easily.
• Proofread with an index card. You might try moving an index card or a piece of paper along as you proofread and covering words to the right of the word you are reading. This technique forces you to read only one word at a time and to read more carefully and slowly than you otherwise would.
• Proofread with a ruler. Another technique is to place a ruler under each line of text as you read. Move the rule down the page, line by line, while you are reading. This proofreading strategy forces you to read the line of text, not the sentence, and can assist you in finding unnecessary words and sentence structure errors.
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CHAPTER 9Section 9.5 The Final Draft
Microsoft Word® Tools After you have edited the language in your paper, read through your paper again and edit for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You can obtain help for this task from the automatic spelling- and grammar-checking features in Microsoft Word®. Remember, however, that suggestions made by automatic checkers are not always correct, so do not depend on them completely. Instead, check your paper yourself first; then use the automatic checking features on the word processing software to check your- self and see whether you missed anything.
References and Formatting Make sure to review the format of your paper to ensure that it conforms to the required documentation style. Make sure your margins are correct, that your paper is appropri- ately spaced and paragraphs are indented as required, that your page header is included and properly formatted, and that your title page and reference page (if needed) are pre- pared properly. Also ensure that you have correctly cited all outside sources in the text of your paper and in the reference list.
9.5 The Final Draft
With the final draft in hand, it is useful to take a moment to consider what you have learned and what you can continue to improve on. Writing out some answers to final draft reflective questions can make your future writing goals more concrete. See Writing in Action: Final Draft Reflection Exercise for some examples of reflective questions you can ask about your own paper.
Writing in Action: Final Draft Reflection Exercise
Try answering the following questions on a sheet of paper. Stating your outcomes from the writing process helps clarify what you want as a writer and how you will attempt to accomplish those goals in future writing assignments.
1. What are the strongest parts of the essay? Why? 2. Which parts of the essay did you work on the most? 3. If you had more time, what would you continue to work on? 4. What do you think is the weakest part of your paper? 5. For the next paper, what do you hope to improve on?
Finally, congratulate yourself. You have completed all the steps in the writing process, and you should be ready to submit your paper, with the confidence that you have done the best job you can do. Is the paper finished? Author and journalism professor Donald M. Murray writes,
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CHAPTER 9Key Terms
A piece of writing is never finished. It is delivered to a deadline, torn out of the typewriter on demand, sent off with a sense of accomplishment and shame and pride and frustration. If only there were a couple more days, time for just another run at it, perhaps then . . . . (Murray, 2002, p. 58)
A piece of writing is never perfect. Every time you read it, you will probably find some- thing you could change. However, there comes a time when all writers have to give up their desire for perfection and make sure they submit their writing on time. You always want to make sure that you have gone through every step of the drafting process, and in order to do that, you need to avoid procrastination, which is the number one roadblock to writing effective essays. Writing is not like memorizing a set of formulas that you can simply “plug in” to get the “correct” answer—instead, writing is a process of developing your thoughts and articulating a clear position. This takes time to do, but it is extremely rewarding because you learn how to articulate yourself better and because it gives an occasion to clarify your thoughts about a subject.
Chapter Summary No famous writers simply write a masterpiece the very first time they write—all writing is in some sense a draft waiting for improvement. Revising, editing, and proofreading are the cornerstones of all good writing. Writers should never feel pressure to create a perfect work of art during the initial drafting stage. This unrealistic ideal only hinders the writing process and adds unnecessary pressure. Sentences are not lifelong contracts; they are always tentative, waiting for the benefit of another reading and revision. Because it is impossible to create an ideal paper in one sitting, writing calls for planning and orga- nizing one’s time carefully. Yet writing has many rewards—there is not only the obvious reward of performing well on a paper, but there is also the less tangible reward of learning from the writing process. Writing creates more capable thinkers by promoting analytical thought and inquiry into important subjects.
Key Terms coherence Clear connections between ideas that facilitate the logical flow of a paper.
connotation What a word suggests or implies. Connotations give words their emotional impact, and this impact can be either positive or negative.
denotation The most descriptive and neu- tral dictionary definition of a word.
editing A close check of the individual elements and details in a paper. Editing focuses on issues such as language choices, the clarity and conciseness of the writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sen- tence structure.
proofreading A final review of a paper to ensure that what the author intended to write is what the paper actually conveys. Proofreading includes reading individual words and reading everything on the page such as page headers, page numbers, symbols, numbers, bullets, and punctua- tion marks.
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CHAPTER 9Key Terms
relevance How well the content of a paper relates to the paper’s thesis and to the assignment.
revision The process of rereading, reflect- ing upon, and improving drafts or draft- ing materials; includes attending to the responsiveness to the writing prompt, organization, cohesion, the thesis, argu- ment development, use of evidence, gram- mar, spelling, and proper formatting.
synonyms Words that have similar mean- ings but that may have very different connotations.
trigger words Words that evoke such a strong emotional response in the reader that he or she tends to focus on the word itself instead of what is being read or lis- tened to.
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