The Revising Stage: Everything You Need to Know

Revising is the stage where students make necessary edits based on the reviews and corrections their teachers or peers have provided. Some of these edits may also be based on their own new opinions. Revising gives students an opportunity to reconsider their topic, their readers, and even their purpose for writing.

Taking the time to rethink their approach may encourage them to make major changes in the structure and content of their work. Generally, the ideal time to revise isn’t right after students have finished a draft (although this is unavoidable at times). Instead, they should wait a few hours to gain some distance from their work. This helps them to be better prepared to make changes and less protective of their writing.

As students enter the revising stage, they should read the draft aloud. Their ears will catch the errors and awkward patches of sentence structure that their eyes won’t. They’ll just be looking at style, formatting, and language here. One effective technique is to spot problem areas that they’d like to improve, then mark those areas with a colored highlighter. Students should set a goal to get the entire draft back to colorless.

They should particularly look for sections where the writing feels different. They also need to search for sections that are too dense with exposition or too heavy on dialogue and try to balance them out. Students should let their instincts guide them to the areas where something feels off and visit them later for correction. Each section of a draft will have its own challenges, and students might struggle with one more than another. Some writers identify that their beginnings are excessively slow, their middle sections tend to be messy and shapeless, or their endings don’t have a satisfying note.

Here’s a checklist students can follow when revising their work.

  •         Does the piece comprise a clear and concise key idea? Is this idea made easily understandable to the reader early in the piece?
  •         Does the piece have a particular purpose (such as to entertain, evaluate, persuade, or inform)? Is the purpose made clear to the reader?
  •         Does the introduction generate interest in the subject and make the audience want to read on?
  •         Is there a clear sense of organization and plan to the piece? Does each paragraph flow logically?
  •         Is each paragraph clearly associated with the key idea of the piece? Is there sufficient information in the piece to support the key idea?
  •         Is the key point of every paragraph clear? Is every point supported with specific details and clearly and adequately defined in a topic sentence?
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