Chapter 7: Revising Your Work
Some writers swear by writing another draft of a creative work like a poem or short story without looking at the previous one. The idea is that you will remember the most important parts of your previous draft, but your new work will dispense with any unnecessary words or details that may have slowed down your initial draft.
Others draft meticulously, making outlines and referring to the original. Still others don’t rewrite at all: they simply incorporate changes into the existing document, an easy thing to do with a computer. Even in this process, however, it can be helpful to see a printout and make your changes on paper before incorporating them into your electronic version. Trying to change an electronic version of your work on a screen is the least effective form of revision and should be avoided.
You’ll probably use a mix of forms, unless you hit on one that works for you across all your writing.
- Read over a poem you wrote. Now, without looking at it again or even trying to remember what you wrote, rewrite the poem. When you have finished, compare the two. Which do you like better? Why?
- Write a second draft of an essay using an outline. First, outline your existing essay, if you haven’t already. Second, decide what and where you’ll change, and incorporate those changes into the outline. Thirdly, rewrite your essay. Does it make a difference if you rewrite by hand versus using your computer? Why or why not?
- Take your printed work to a space with few distractions (like a library or an unfamiliar café). Read it through, making changes in the margins. Go home and transfer the changes to the electronic version. (Hint: Make sure to print your changes clearly so that you can understand them when it comes time to add them to your electronic document. You may want to use the editing marks found in Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) or elsewhere.)