Revising to Improve Voice

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Revising to Improve Voice

Directions: Read the essay out loud to yourself. For the purpose of this assignment, ignore all punctuation, spelling, and grammar problems. You are not revising for conventions, but for voice!

  1. Word Choice/Diction

After reading the ENTIRE essay, highlight all forbidden words used. Then list them below. Replace all forbidden words with more specific diction.


Remember the forbidden words are the following:





a lot



thing and any form of thing, like something, anything, everything etc.







somebody, everybody, someone, everyone

  1. *Replace ALL forbidden words with more specific word choice on your rough draft.

  1. Syntax/Sentence Fluency

Using a different colored highlighter, highlight all the “to be” verbs in the essay. Then list the “to be” verbs and their frequency below. Meaning, list the verb, count up how many times it is used in the essay, and list the total.


Remember “to be” verbs are the following:









has been

have been

had been

would have been

could have been

should have been

or any form there of

  1. *Correct the passive voice and make your sentences active voice on your rough draft. Get rid of the “to be” verb and make the subject DO the action.

  1. Tone

What is the tone of the essay? In only a few words, describe the attitude of the essay. Is the tone clear? __________________________________________________________________

Highlight on the rough draft any words that express or help develop a clear tone. List those words below:


  1. Tone

Circle any words in the essay that create an ambiguous or unclear tone. Look for places where the tone and attitude are unclear. List those words below:


  1. *On the rough draft, fix any ambiguous words by replacing them with specific words that clearly express your attitude about your subject.

  1. Syntax/Sentence Variety

On the rough draft, mark 2 of each of the following:

S-Simple- 1 independent clause that can stand alone and expresses a complete idea

EX: The family swam in the crystal water of the ocean.

CM-Compound- 2 independent clauses hooked together

They can be joined most usually in 3 ways:

  1. with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)

EX: The family swan in the crystal water of the ocean, but they never saw the danger.

  1. with a semicolon (;)

EX: The family swam in the crystal water of the ocean; they never saw the danger.

  1. with a semicolon followed by a conjuctive adverb or transition phrase (however, moreover, consequently) followed by a comma.

EX: The family swam in the crystal water of the ocean; however, they never saw the danger.
CX-Complex- 1 independent clause linked to 1 or more dependent clauses.

EX: The family swam in the crystal water of the ocean which was filled with hidden dangers.

CMCX-Compound complex- 2 independent clauses joined together and then linked with 1 or more dependent clauses.

EX: The family swam in the crystal water of the ocean, but they never saw the danger that lurked under their dangling bodies in the dark shadows.

Is there a certain type of sentence that is missing? Which one?


  1. *On the rough draft, restructure sentences so that you have at least 2 of each type. 2 Simple, 2 Compound, 2 Complex, 2 Compound Complex

  1. Syntax/Sentence Fluency

Underline sentences that have the same beginning structure. Underline repetitive words that begin sentences as well, as this can be an indicator or repetitive sentence structure.

EX: Beginning with a preposition phrase.

Under the sun, I wore a hat.

Besides the building, a tree grew despite the harsh city.
What kind of beginning sentence structure is used the most?


Write 2 examples below:


  1. *On your rough draft, vary the sentences that use repetitive sentence structure or repetitive beginnings.

12. Detail

Find the main ideas in the essay. Write each main idea.



(If you need more space, use your own sheet of paper and attach to this worksheet.)
Now count up each detail that supports or describes each main idea and put the total number of details on the line to the left of the main idea. Details that simply repeat only count once! Repeating a detail does not give clarity to the main idea.

  1. Cross out any details that repeat in a black marker. Leave a detail only once. It is still repetition of detail if the same idea is said using different words. Repetition does not have to be exact wording, simply that an idea is expressed more than once even if it is expressed in different ways.

  1. Each main idea should have 5 supporting details. If you have less than five for any main idea, correct that now. Add details to each main idea so that you have 5 original, different supporting details for each of the main ideas listed above.

15. Imagery-word pictures

Highlight 1 example of each of the five senses that are used in your essay to describe your experience. List a word picture created for each of the senses.

  • sight________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • sound_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • smell_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • touch_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • taste________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. If you are missing any of the senses, add the imagery for each on your rough draft.

17. Figurative Language

Underline in red all of the following rhetorical strategies in your essay:

simile- a comparison of dissimilar things using like or as

EX: She sang like a baby’s coo, soft and sweet.

metaphor- a comparison of dissimilar things that does NOT use like or as

EX: Her singing voice was a baby’s coo, soft and sweet.

hyperbole- a ridiculous exaggeration that can not be true

EX: I was so tired that my eyes were nailed shut despite my alarm clock blaring.

personification-giving human attributes to a nonliving entity

EX: The tree screamed as the storm broke one of its limbs off.

The car hummed and purred perfectly in tune.
alliteration-the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of successive words.

EX: Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers.

Euphemism: substitution of an agreeable or at least non-offensive expression for one whose plainer meaning might be harsh or unpleasant.

EX: The husband was late coming home due to his extracurricular activities. (instead of saying he was cheating or having an affair or worse)

The young girl’s belly bump began to show just above her pantline. (instead of saying she was knocked up, pregnant, or prego)
Anadiplosis: ("doubling back") the rhetorical repetition of one or several words; specifically, repetition of a word that ends one clause at the beginning of the next.

EX: I adore coffee. Coffee is the nectar of the gods. The gods bring peace to my soul through my caffeinated beverage. A beverage filled with steamed milk, espresso, and white chocolate syrup.

Anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.

EX: I am a teacher who expects lofty work from my students. I am a teacher who can be strict. I am a teacher who believes the best possibilities of all students. I am a teacher who loves to teach!

Antithesis: opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.

EX: Once upon a time, in a distant town surrounded by mountains, there lived a small Jewish boy who believed himself capable of seeing good in evil, of discovering dawn within dusk and, in general, of deciphering the symbols, both visible and invisible lavished upon him by destiny.

To him, all things seemed simple and miraculous: life and death, love and hatred. On the one side were the righteous, on the other the wicked. The just were always handsome and generous, the miscreants always ugly and cruel.
18. List any of the rhetorical strategies you are missing in your essay.


19. Add to your rough draft any rhetorical strategies you are missing. You must have:

2 similes

2 metaphors

1 hyperbole

1 personification

1 anaphora

1 anadiplosis

1 antithesis

1 euphemism

1 alliteration

  1. Syntax/sentence fluency

Verb tense shift is when you start your essay or paragraph or even sentence in one tense of a verb and then abruptly change which verb tense you are using. This causes choppy, awkward sentences and confusion for your reader.

EX: I walked to the store where I buy some fruit and a gallon of milk.

Written correctly the verb tenses would match.

Written correctly EX: I walked to the store where I bought some fruit and a gallon of milk.


I walk to the store where I buy some fruit and a gallon of milk.

Read back through your essay yet again and circle all the verbs. Are they in past, present, or future?

  1. Decide which tense you want to write in. Change the verbs on your rough draft so that they are all in the same tense.

  1. After retyping and fixing all of your revisions and printing yourself a clean copy of your essay, you are now ready to check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling!

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