Four Steps in Revising Your Writing

  1. The first step in revising something you wrote is to reread it — carefully. (It helps to read it aloud: that brings a second sense into the process.) Does every sentence make sense. Is its meaning crystal-clear? If you’re unsure, either reword or delete the sentence.
  2. Are any sentences wordy? That is, do they have more words than is necessary to convey their meaning?
  3. Do the sentences vary in both length and structure? A sentence can have one of four structures: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. Writing that contains a mix of those structures is usually more interesting to read.
  4. Finally, check for coherence. Two adjacent sentences are coherent if there’s a logical connection between them. According to Barbara Fine Clouse in her text, Patterns for a Purpose (5th ed.), coherence can be effected by (a) using a transitional word or phrase, (b) repeating a word or idea, (c) using a synonym as a connector, and (d) writing sentences that either “look backward” or “look forward” (77-79).

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