Revision Strategies

When you revise and are spending time thinking about how well your content works in your essay, there are some strategies to keep in mind that can help. First and foremost, during the revision process, you should seek outside feedback. It’s especially helpful if you can find someone to review your work who disagrees with your perspective. This can help you better understand the opposing view and can help you see where you may need to strengthen your argument.

If you’re in a writing class, chances are you’ll have some kind of peer review for your argument. It’s important to take advantage of any peer review you receive on your essay. Even if you don’t take all of the advice you receive in a peer review, having advice to consider is going to help you as a writer.

Finally, in addition to the outside feedback, there are some revision strategies that you can engage in on your own. Read your essay carefully and think about the lessons you have learned about logic, fallacies, and audience. For an example of the revision process, check out this first video on revising from the Research area of the Excelsior OWL.

A post draft outline can also help you during the revision process. A post draft outline can help you quickly see where you went with your essay and can help you more easily see if you need to make broad changes to content or to organizations.

For more information on creating a post draft outline, you can view the video below. Be sure the volume is turned up on your computer!

Video Transcript

Post-Draft Outline

A revision strategy

A post-draft outline is the outline of an essay you have drafted. Creating a post-draft outline allows you to see the main ideas of each paragraph of your essay and is an excellent revision strategy.

A writing process presentation brought to you by the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab.

Start With Your Draft

The first step is to complete your rough draft. If you veer from your original outline, that’s OK. Your original outline is just a guideline, and completing a post-draft outline will give you a chance to see what you’ve written and see if you need to make any changes to your organization or content.

Step 1: Number Your Paragraphs
On your printed essay or in your file, give each paragraph a number, beginning with your introduction.

Like so: [shows an essay with the paragraphs numbered]

Step 2: Make a Numbered List
On a separate page or in a new file, make a numbered list for each paragraph.

Like so: [shows a page entitled “Post Draft Outline” with numbers 1 through 7 listed along the left column of the page]

Step 3: Write the Main Ideas
Write the main idea of each paragraph next to each number in your numbered list.

And it should look something like this:

[Displayed on screen: Post Draft Outline

  1. Thesis: Our community must make fruits and vegetables more readily available to poor citizens in our community, and using “ugly” fruits and vegetables may be the key.
  2. Definition of “ugly” fruits and vegetables
  3. The need for more fresh produce and importance of diet
  4. Keeping “ugly” fruits and vegetables instead of destroying them
  5. Making this produce available
  6. Opposing view: The costs of developing the infrastructure and the resources of volunteers
  7. Conclusion: Reminder about the benefits of bringing “ugly” fruits and the resources of volunteers to people who might not otherwise afford produce]
Step 4: Evaluate Your Paragraphs
When you were trying to capture the main idea of each paragraph, were you able to? If not, that paragraph likely needs revision.

[Copy of Post Draft Outline with a comment shown on step 6: I need two paragraphs here!]

Step 5: Evaluate Your Essay
Once you have captured the main ideas, look at your outline. Does your organization make sense? Can you think of other topics that need to be covered? Did you repeat yourself anywhere?

[Copy of Post Draft Outline with the following comments:

Comment on number 2 and 3: I think I might need to reverse these.

Comment on number 5: I think I need two paragraphs here to explain my plan in more detail.

Comment on number 6: I need two paragraphs here!]

Once you’ve made your notes and revision plans, you’re ready to make changes to your essay. A post-draft outline is a great way to engage in some real revision!

Grumble... Applaud... Please give us your feedback!