Hints on using revision to improve what you write:


  1. Think of revision as a part of the writing process, whether you are writing an essay or an email message. Make it a habit. It can only improve what you write.


  1. It takes a while even for good writers to get used to criticism from others.  Yet, when we criticize our own work—which is what revision is—it’s fun.


  1. Read aloud what you have written. Listen as though it were music.  If a note is off, change is in order. If it’s not crystal clear, smooth out the wording.


  1. What to look for:  Is what you’ve written accurate?  Is focused?  Too long, too short? Can one sentence be better than two?  Have you selected the right key words?


  1. If someone gave you a dollar for every word you could delete without hurting the meaning, would you think harder about the function of each word?  Make each and every word count.


  1. The tone should be appropriate to the subject matter.  Bouncy writing might not be in keeping with a story about illness. 


  1. In re-reading your story, does it sound like something you would write or does it sound like someone else?  It’s your story and should be told in a way that is most comfortable to you.


  1. Look at the beginning.  Is it likely to entice a reader to continue on?  Does it set an appropriate tone?


  1. Look at the middle.  Is there enough detail to reveal the essence of the story?  Are there anecdotes you might add to make your points more understandable?


  1. Look at the ending.  If it sounds preachy, you probably want to change it.  It should be like an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence.


  1. One more point about endings:  Bear in mind that, when the reader leaves a story, he or she will most remember the ending.  Is your ending memorable?


  1. Finally, are you satisfied?  That’s the final test.  When you reach that point, the story is written.


                                      Copyright, 2003, MIT Media Laboratory