Differences Between Editing & RevisingEditing: Correcting mistakes in writing likespelling errors, punctuation mistakes, incorrectwords, sentence fragments, and othermechanical problems. The editing processfocuses on grammar.Revising: Focusing on flow, organization, focus,fit. The revision process is targeted at making thepaper sound good and make sense.
Common Problems with Editing/RevisionToo much revision means I didn’t have agood first draftI don’t want to lose what I have writtenI don’t have anything more to sayRevision is going to interfere with theoriginality of my workRevision is basically about what otherswant to see in my work
Major ChallengesYou have to transition from being a writer to areaderRevision requires time and effort and, above all,PATIENCERevising drafts can be confusing when you haveconflicting feedbackRevisions can leave you diffident
The Politics of RevisionDon’t blindly follow your committee’s feedback. Itshould make sense to youThink independentlyIf you choose to not include an idea that acommittee member has asked you to add to thedraft, then state the reason(s)Do not get defensive. Rather, think aboutwhether a particular addition/deletion will addvalue to your work
Where to start?Follow feedback, particularly from those you trustand admirePrioritize what needs attention and in what order.For example, organization OR ideas, editingadjectives OR cutting chapter lengthDo not start revising in the middle of a chapter
How to go about it?Always have a planIdentify one work at a time. In other words, breakrevision into smaller, manageable units/tasks(For ex., one chapter at a time)Allow time between draftsSave introduction and conclusion for last
ShareFind readers who want to see you succeed andwho believe in your abilities as a conscientiousthinkerGet comfortable sharing your work at variousstages of the writing processAsk your readers for particular kinds of feedbackJoin a community of readers/writers. The GRC isa great resource.
OrganizeReverse outline your chapter. Errors will standout.Use the reverse outline on all scales.Look at macro issues before you attend toindividual sentences.Use subheadings for better organization.Remember that grammatical issues are relativelyeasy to address.
ReviseTheses/Dissertations are organizationalnightmares. Don’t get disheartened.Is your work structured into discreteunits/chapters? Why or why not?Transitions from one chapter to another are hard.Pay special attention.Look for ideas that repeat themselves in differentchapters. Is this alright?
Rule of ThreeFor each scale of the work, there should be threegeneral parts. Intro: States what is to follow Body: Details of the work Conclusion: Summary, Concluding points, transition to next section.
EditLess is moreUse your ears Read aloud to catch errorsUse your eyes Edit any paragraph that runs an entire page or moreUse your breath Good way to double check your punctuation
EditWatch out for your favorite writing errors.Keep a dictionary/thesaurus handy (but use themcorrectly…)Don’t hesitate to get professional help.
Specific Editorial SuggestionsUse nouns and verbs over adverbs andadjectivesStick to the subject-verb-object format asmuch as possibleSubjects and objects should beidentifiablePay special attention to tense, subject-verb agreement, and subject-possessiveagreement.
Specific Editorial SuggestionsAvoid weak verbsThe most common weak verbs are “to be” and “have.” Replace them with interestingones. Ex: Instead of “He is planning to have a party at his house this weekend” use“He plans to host a party this weekend.” Replace “She wants to be at the party” to“She wants to attend the party.”Use active verbs over passive onesEx: Change “She was hit by the car” to “The car hit her”Stick to simple present and past tenseDo not start sentences with “There is” or “Thereare”Ex: Change “There are many weak verbs in this line” to “This line has many weakverbs” or “This line is replete with weak verbs”
Specific Editorial SuggestionsAvoid passive voiceIdentify the actor, action, and theacted and use them in subject-verb-object orderYou need to take a relook at yoursentence if it ends with “by the.”Ex. “The house was damaged by the rainstorm” should bereplaced with “The rainstorm damaged the house.”
ESL/ELL ConcernsIf you are unfamiliar with a particular writing styleor genre, find examples and use them asmodels.Be sure to review the style manual for yourdiscipline.Dictionary/Thesaurus are your best friend.
ESL/ELL ConcernsMake a list of your most common errors/mistakesPrioritize them and work through each one-by-oneIn general, prioritize grammar/language if it getsin the way of your reader being able tounderstand the message of your writingSee handout for a quick cheat sheet on somecommon problems
Some Basic PointsGet organized and prioritizeFocus on macro issues first and then narrowdown to individual sentences and wordsGet familiar with your most common errorsDon’t be afraid to ask for help but do not takeadvise uncritically.