Revising and editing writing the First Draft

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Writing the First Draft

  • 1. Purpose: Get your ideas on paper
  • 2. Getting Started:
  • a. Freewrite or write a discovery draft
  • b. Use a formal outline
  • c. Break essay into parts and write the
  • different parts separately starting with
  • the easiest section
  • d. Do not concentrate on mechanics and
  • organization – leave that to revision stage.
  • e. As you use an idea from your sources put reference in
  • parenthesis immediately (Brown 45)
  • 3. Format: write on one side, every other line, with margins


  • Inexperienced writers do little more than refine word choices, correct grammatical or mechanical errors
  • Revision – “re-vision” to see again with fresh eyes; to revise you need to evaluate, change and reevaluate your draft. Decide whether to write an entirely new draft or revise the one you have (Troyka 57, 58)
  • Be systematic – don’t evaluate at random;
  • a. begin with overall organization
  • b. then move on its paragraphs
  • c. then to its sentences
  • d. then to its word choice

Examine your draft globally

  • Is the thesis clearly stated?
  • Is the supporting evidence sufficient?
  • Is the paper logically organized? The role of unity and coherence (Troyka 61)
  • Does the introduction arouse interest and prepare readers for what follows?
  • Does the conclusion leave readers with a strong final impression, question or challenge?
  • Are any sections off-topic or redundant?
  • (Connelly 127)

Consider your paper with a “reader’s eye”

  • Are your readers likely to be receptive, indifferent, or hostile to your views? What details will arouse interest or defend your thesis?
  • Do you expect reader objections? Do you anticipate differing opinions?
  • Do your readers need any additional background info to appreciate your views? Are there any misunderstandings or misconceptions that should be clarified or dispelled? Do terms or concepts require definitions?
  • Will readers respond favourably to the style and tone of your paper?

Analyze Your Critical Thinking

  • Distinguish Fact from Opinion
  • A fact is a verifiable statement that something is true or that something has occurred.
  • An opinion is a conclusion or belief that can never be substantiated beyond any doubt and is, therefore, debatable. An opinion may be supported or unsupported.
  • (Kirsner & Mandell 57)

Evaluating Supporting Evidence

  • The more reliable the supporting evidence – examples, statistics, or expert testimony - the more willing readers will be to accept a statement. No matter what kind of evidence writers use, it must be
  • - accurate
  • - sufficient
  • - representative
  • - relevant (Kirsner & Mandell 56)

Analyze Your Critical Thinking: Common Errors in Critical Thinking

  • Ignoring the Role of Coincidence
  • Hasty Generalizations or Jumping to Conclusions
  • Relying on Anecdotal Evidence
  • Mistaking Time Relationships for Cause and Effect
  • Making Faulty Comparisons or Analogies
  • Assuming Trends will Continue, Making “Slippery Slope” Judgments
  • False Dilemmas
  • Relying on False Authorities, Attacking Personalities, Guilt by Association
  • Using Circular Reasoning (Begging the Question)
  • Making Emotional or Irrelevant Statements (Red Herring)
  • Equivocation
  • Argument to Ignorance
  • Appealing to People’s Prejudice (Connelly 51-8; Kirszner & Mandell 59-61)

Revise Organization

  • When satisfied that draft expresses the meaning that you want to get across to your reader, check organization
  • Is your organizational plan appropriate for your thesis and purpose?
  • Do you provide transitions and connecting ideas?
  • What should you add so that audience can better follow your train of thought?
  • What should be eliminated to clarify meaning?
  • What should you move that is out of place, or should be grouped elsewhere?
  • Does each paragraph have a main idea that relates to the thesis, and does all material in paragraph support it?

Revise Organization (cont)

  • Read essay out loud. What ideas or facts are missing, poorly stated, or repetitive?
  • Examine the Thesis – does essay have one or is it just a collection of facts? Where have you placed the thesis? Is that the best place for it?
  • Review Topic Sentences and Controlling Ideas for each paragraph. Do all paragraphs support the thesis? Do all ideas, support relate to the thesis?
  • Review sequence of paragraphs – from general to specific; specific to general, chronological, spatial?
  • Revise introduction – does it limit the topic, give adequate background, and address reader concerns?
  • Revise conclusion
  • Revise supporting paragraphs is evidence easy to follow? Are there clear transitions between ideas and between paragraphs? Should some paragraphs be broken up and others joined?

Revise Style

  • Style, tone, voice, attitude and liveliness, or lack thereof are created by author’s choice and use of words, the length and complexity of sentences, and reader-based expression; Five ways to improve your writing style:
  • 1.Move from writer-based prose to reader-based prose
  • 2. Add your own voice
  • 3. Stress verbs rather than nouns
  • 4. Eliminate ineffective language
  • 5. Eliminate sexist language (Kennedy 64)


  • Read paper out loud to catch glaring errors
  • The reread line by line, sentence by sentence
  • - check for correct usage,
  • - punctuation,
  • - spelling,
  • - mechanics,
  • - manuscript form, (see pg 72 of text)
  • - typos.


  • This concerns itself with the finished product – for accuracy and neatness
  • Make a last check for errors in text – mechanics and typos
  • Use appropriate format
  • Read line by line - look for letters accidentally omitted, inserted, inverted; indentations omitted, created incorrectly, and check the reference list closely.
  • One technique:
  • a. use a ruler under each line to prevent yourself from looking
  • beyond that line
  • b. reading backwards (from the last line to the first) sentence by
  • sentence to prevent yourself from being distracted by the
  • content of the paper.
  • c. proofreading the final draft aloud to yourself or friend so that
  • you can hear the errors that slipped past your eyes. (Troyka 64)

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