Process Writing: Revision

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Revision is the process of improving writing. It implies a belief that written communication, unlike most forms of oral communication, can and should be improved and will benefit from the process. It also allows for a developmental approach to writing so that various areas of improvement can be approached separately. This removes the need for writing to be a totally focused activity. Instead, writers develop ideas, craft them into a workable form, and then apply themselves to specific concerns. Specific areas of revision may be considered individually or according to need.

Areas to Consider

Active/passive voice is concerned with the use of verbs to show the relationship of the subject of a sentence to the action in a sentence. Active voice is used to convey a sense of power and involvement, and passive voice is used to convey distance and a lack of involvement. More importantly, the consistent use of active voice brings a forcefulness to writing. Active verbs are those in which the subject of the sentence performs the action. Passive verbs are those in which the subject of the sentence receives the action. Passive verbs are written using the past participle form of the verb plus a form of "to be." It has come to my attention that...(passive) I found out that...(active)

A check for brevity will ask if the writer has explained the subject as concisely as possible. That which is unnecessary should be removed to allow a clear view of the message to come through. It is helpful to consider those words ending in "ly" and "ing" as well as the word "very." Often these can be omitted.

Clarity implies a question about the effectiveness of a piece of writing at expressing an idea.

Cliches and trite expressions are figures of speech which have been so overused that they no longer convey a sense of sound or feeling.

Diction is concerned with whether the vocabulary effectively conveys meaning and appeals to the audience. The concept of connotative/denotative language is taken into consideration.

Euphemisms are words or phrases used to speak about a subject which is not socially acceptable in a way which does not offend. Other uses of language which are used informally consist of slang which is language used by a particular group of people, jargon which is technical language used by a group, and colloquialisms which are phrases or terms limited to a particular region.

Expansion considers whether the writing is clearly understood and fully explained. It determines if there are enough details to convey the idea intended.

Parallelism, or consistency of structure, requires that coordinate ideas be treated the same way grammatically.

Subordination/coordination is concerned with whether coordinate ideas are treated as equals and subordinate ideas are shown as dependent upon another idea. Both are used as a means of showing the reader the significance of various ideas and the relative importance of ideas to each other. Frequently, misplaced or dangling modifiers are the result of subordinate ideas placed too far from the source.


A check for technical accuracy/mechanics will help avoid confusion about a writer's intentions. This check will include the use of commonly accepted rules of capitalization, spelling, punctuation (internal/commas, semi-colons, colons, apostrophes, external/periods, question marks, and exclamation points), and usage. Usage will consist of verb usage such as subject verb agreement and tense consistency, pronoun usage such as pronoun antecedent agreement, adjective/adverb usage, word choice, fragments, and run ons.

A check for variety will ensure that the writer has tried to keep the interest of the reader. This can be achieved through a variation in sentence types (simple, compound, complex), patterns (svo, sv, svp), arrangements (periodic, balanced, loose), and kinds (declarative, imperative, interrogative, exclamatory). In addition such techniques as the use of parallelism, figures of speech, and carefully considered diction are ways to add variety to writing.        

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