The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
Edwin Schlossberg, 1945 -
Before the revising/editing,
take a break to gain a new perspective.
It will help you review how effectively you have communicated your message.
General review strategies:
Does the text flow in an effective
Is it too long for what you wish to say? too short?
Keep in mind your audience: they do not know what you do.
They rely on what information you give them, in the order you give it to them.
Does the title briefly describe and reflect the purpose of the paper?
If there are headings and sub-headings, are these similarly brief and concise?
Get a good start!
Capture attention at the beginning or you may lose your audience.
An introduction should present the purpose in an inviting way.
Is your first sentence interesting and inviting?
Does your first paragraph predict the development of the piece?
Does it clearly introduce the subject, project, or idea to be developed?
Does each paragraph build the argument or story? Did you follow a
plan or outline?
Is each paragraph in an effective or logical order?
Is your train of thought, or that of the "characters," clear?
Do your transitions between paragraphs work?
Are relationships between paragraphs clear?
Can any paragraphs be eliminated as unnecessary, or combined with others more effectively?
Does each sentence support only the topic sentence of
Can any sentences be eliminated as unnecessary,
or combined with others more effectively?
If there are side-stories or digressions,
are their purposes clear in the context of the whole?
Does the conclusion summarize and clarify important information
and resolve the thesis statement?
Does the conclusion leave the reader thinking?
Is it supported by the paper?
It could be that you have a troublesome area, or want to make your writing
Here are some areas of focus:
Sentences should be clear and logical, even short and to the point.
Sentences should flow consistently,
except in places you wish to stop the reader for emphasis.
Is the tone consistent throughout the paragraph?
Do subordinate ideas find their right place?
(Keep on guard for dangling modifiers and avoid sentence fragments.)
Words such as in, with, out, by, at are prepositions and
create phrases such as:
in its place... with honors... out in the yard... by the side of the road... at a place called home... throughout the paragraph...
Avoid too many in one sentence, and make sure they are in their right place, near their subject/object or verb. Don't let them wander in the sentence, or dangle, as
Strive for consistency with parallel forms:
Pay attention to conjunctions
(and, or, not only...but also, either... or, neither...nor, both...and)
With each piece of writing, establish a vocabulary that is used
Set aside your writing, list its key words, and return to your writing
Is there any word that lacks definition or context?
Are their any words that are emotionally-charged? If so, are they used effectively for stress?
Position important words where they are more effective (at the end or beginning of sentences/paragraphs)
Develop and use an active, descriptive vocabulary; avoid the overuse of pronouns (it, they, we, their, etc.);
Reflect on important vocabulary: anticipate reactions of your
Reserve the use of emotional words to create effects. What words can be strengthened to be clearer or stronger?
What words can be simplified to be clearer or stronger?
Do you over-use any words? Would synonyms add interest?
Colloquialisms are informal expressions that imitate speech.
Their use may not be clear of effective in your writing since they are so familiar, and may tend toward predictability.
Are vivid/descriptive words used to describe characters and/or
Do they fit into the flow or do they make the reader pause? If pause, is it appropriate and/or effective?
Did she say she won the promotion, or did she
whisper, stress, or confide it?
We investigated the accident is stronger than
We conducted an investigation of the accident
Many reasons account for our success is stronger than
There are many reasons for our success
Avoid It is and There are
The child slammed the door! is more powerful than
The door was slammed by the child!
Avoid forms of "to be" (as in the second, passive sentence)