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Revising Up, Revising Down At the most basic level, there are only two ways to revise something. (Or you can spend all day moving commas around, but that’s a whole other thing.) If you’re adding, the main concerns are what to add, and where.If you’re writing prose, especially prose fiction, you might be looking for opportunities to add detail, to the emotional state of a character, or the physical details of the world of the story, or wherever else it seems relevant and useful.
You overhear a conversation, something catches your eye, your boy/girlfriend makes/ruins your day, and bam—you’re off to the notebook or the computer or whatever.
There’s also, of course, the possibility of prompt-driven writing, which in my estimation really means anything assigned: a homework essay, a newspaper article, or the exercises we do in this class, just to name a few.
At the first-draft stage, you don’t need to know the answers to any of these questions.
In fact, the less thought you give them the better off you’ll probably be. The first thing you should do is recognize that you’ve already made your first major decision in the revision process, which was deciding to try and work with this piece again at all.
The “lecture,” such as it is, runs just about 2000 words, and it doesn’t attempt to be in any sense comprehensive.
It is intended for an audience of beginning writing students, some of whom may be encountering the concepts of editing and revision for the first time. The first part discusses how–and if–to develop material from in-class exercises (and/or free-writes) into workable and work-with-able drafts., the nature of the class shifted and we went into workshop mode.Since we’re now reading student work and not publicly available work, it doesn’t leave me with a whole lot to share.You tuck it away in your folder or on your hard drive. It’s likely—almost certain, in fact—that what’s really on the page is going to be different than how you remember it.It might be better, it might be worse, but in any case—different. What matters is that you take the time out to survey the lay of the land, and make those (re)discoveries, whatever they might happen to be.Revision: An Almost Obscenely Brief Overview “Inspiration” is a very funny thing.It can come on strong, out of nowhere, and might be triggered by anything.Most likely, it won’t be a question of better and worse at all. Very often, the thing you initially sat down to write about will have been eclipsed during the writing process by something else that caught your attention. That last one is especially important, because it’s going to govern what happens next.So maybe the first revision questions to ask yourself are: What do I think this piece is about? Maybe the thing that side-tracked you is much more interesting than your original thought, which is why you pursued it when you were writing.Writing is an art form that relies heavily on exchange—on a give and take between the writer and the reader.If you do all the reader’s work for them, you are depriving them of their rightful experience as the reader, that is, of the very thing they were looking forward to doing with you.