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4.1: What is Revision?

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    Author: Roxann G. Schmidt

    What is Revision?
    “There is no good writing, only rewriting.” –James Thurber

    The word revision literally means to “see again” (“re” meaning again while “vision” refers to sight). When professors ask you to revise a piece of writing, they are not asking for you to proofread or edit your work. Proofreading and editing suggest catching errors like spelling errors, punctuation mistakes (like comma splices), and rewording sentences (to prevent wordiness). Rather, revision implies rethinking your ideas. Now that you have had a moment to step back from your ideas, read other people’s thoughts and reflect on your own, your thoughts should evolve.

    The assumption behind revision is that writing, like thinking, is not a static, fixed, and correct answer to a question posed. Instead, writing is a fluid process that reflects your thinking. As you continue to think about a topic, your ideas should change, and your writing should reflect this progression of thinking. Revision is an ongoing opportunity to discover, remember, reshape, and refine your ideas. If your ideas remain stagnant, this is an indication that you are not engaging in the critical thinking process.

    One reason why professors will ask you to write rather than take multiple-choice answer tests is to demonstrate your critical thinking skills. A multiple-choice test can establish that you have knowledge about a concept or good memorization skills. What most multiple-choice tests cannot demonstrate is that you have thought about the material. An important goal in writing is not to prove what you already know but to explore and discover what you don’t know. As such, professors value writing that not only shows command over Standard American Edited English but also demonstrates careful thought, consideration, and critical thinking. This is nearly impossible for most writers to do in one draft.

    Revision can occur throughout your entire writing process. You may start revising even as you are writing your child’s draft (aka “shitty” first draft).

    Consider starting at the top of this hierarchy and work your way down:

    1. Revise for Purpose, Thesis, & Audience
    2. Revise for Ideas & Evidence
    3. Revise for Organization
    4. Revise for Clarity & Style
    5. Edit for Errors
    6. Proofread
    7. MLA

    4.1: What is Revision? is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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