on using revision to improve what you write:
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
tone should be appropriate to the subject matter. Bouncy writing might not be in keeping
with a story about illness.
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.
at the beginning. Is it likely to
entice a reader to continue on?
Does it set an appropriate tone?
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
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.
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
are you satisfied? That’s the
final test. When you reach that point,
the story is written.
Copyright, 2003, MIT Media Laboratory