Revisions (Rs)

A revision is an exercise taken to the next level—a second or third draft of a piece that you bring to your writing group for feedback and advice. They are thus an intermediate stage between the exploratory writing you do in the exercises and the finished essays that will culminate your work for this course.

Let me suggest three basic types of revision:

  • Developing:  This is probably the most common form of revision. It involves identifying a piece you find promising or interesting, and then adding to or extending the work you’ve done in it.
  • Restarting: Sometimes, though, after having tried a particular approach to an exercise, you may realize you now have a better idea about how to go about it. Feel free to start over in revision.
  • Refining: Occasionally, when a piece is nearly done, you may want to concentrate on editing it to meet the requirements of a particular journal or website, or simply to make your prose more clear, graceful, and expressive.

Revision is the moment when you begin to commit yourself to a piece. It is thus also the moment when you are most likely to profit from a close and focused reading of your work. And so, when you prepare a revision for your writing group, I will ask you to preface your text with a paragraph in which you state your goals in writing and list any questions or worries you have about your piece as it stands. After your writing group meets, I’ll ask you to email me a revision plan  in which you summarize the responses you received, outline your current plans for the piece, and tell me what kinds of feedback you’d most like to get from me. I will email you back with some thoughts about how to move your piece forward (or in some cases, to suggest you work on something else).

You may revise and workshop the same piece more than once. Indeed, since you are required to turn in five revisions but only two final essays, you’ll almost certainly end up workshopping some pieces multiple times. You’ll want to make sure, though, that you make good use of the chance to share your work with your writing group—that you don’t ask them to reread a piece you haven’t made significant changes to. I will grade revisions with a √ or √-, so you should feel free to experiment in them.

To earn a √ for a revision, you must turn in (1) a revised draft, (2) comments on the drafts of your group members, and (3) a revising plan. If any of these is missing or late, your grade will be a √– or lower.