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English Composition 1

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Revision Plan

With each final revision, please submit a list of the improvements that you have made to the essay, organized according to the following major aspects of the essay:

  1. Thesis
  2. Organization
  3. Support and Development of Ideas
  4. Style
  5. Mechanics

The outline should begin as a list of possible improvements that you could make to an essay and should evolve into an outline of the actual improvements that you made. The outline is a way for you to call attention to the various improvements you have made to the different aspects of an essay. Be specific as you list the improvements to your essay.

The Revision Plan Example should give you a good sense of the expectations for the plan, but please note that the example has information listed only for the "Support and Development of Ideas" part of the plan.

Please note that the first three items listed above--thesis, organization, and support and development of ideas--mainly involve "deep-level" revision, while the last two items--style and mechanics--mainly involve "surface-level" revision. The grade of a final revision can be higher than the earlier draft only if the essay demonstrates both deep-level and surface-level revision. You may not be able to find ways to strengthen each aspect of an essay, but you should try to make as many improvements as possible.

The information below should help you decide how you might strengthen the different aspects of your paper.

1. Thesis

"Thesis" does not refer to the thesis statement but to the main points of an essay. All of the main points of your essay should be logically related, giving your paper a strong sense of unity.

The wording of the thesis statement is mainly a matter of style, but you might reword the thesis statement to help you better convey the thesis of your essay.

To strengthen the thesis, you could consider changing one or more of the major ideas that you develop in your essay.

The following course web pages can help you strengthen the thesis and thesis statement:

2. Organization

Organization involves both the order of body paragraphs and the order of ideas and supporting material within each body paragraph, as well as the use of transitional words, phrases, and sentences to take readers smoothly and logically from one part of your paper to the next. There should be a "logical progression of ideas" throughout your paper, a clear sense of one idea and one sentence logically leading to the next.

As you look for ways to strengthen the organization of your essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is each body paragraph at least half of a page long (double spaced) and at least twice as long as the introduction or conclusion?
  2. Could a different order to the body paragraphs strengthen the essay?
  3. Could a different order to the ideas and supporting material within a body paragraph strengthen the essay?
  4. Could a body paragraph be better focused on just one major point?
  5. Does each body paragraph (except the last) end with a transitional sentence that takes readers smoothly and logically to the next paragraph?
  6. Do you use transitional words and phrases throughout the essay to take readers from one idea and one sentence to the next?

The following course web pages can help you strengthen the organization of your essay:

3. Support and Development of Ideas

The support and development of ideas in an essay involves the ideas that you present, how well you support those ideas with specific evidence, how well you explain the ways that the evidence logically supports your ideas, and how much insight you demonstrate into your subject. 

Important: It is difficult to do any "deep-level" revision to an essay if you do not attempt to strengthen the support and development of ideas, so you should give special attention to this aspect of your essay.

As you look for ways to strengthen the support and develop of ideas in your essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Could certain ideas in your essay be changed or expressed in different ways to strengthen your essay?
  2. Could you present and develop a new idea about your subject that you did not present in the earlier draft?
  3. Could you add supporting evidence to a body paragraph?
  4. Could you delete any supporting evidence from a paragraph because the evidence does not clearly or effectively support the main idea of the paragraph?
  5. Could the supporting evidence in a body paragraph be more effective if that evidence were presented in a different order? 
  6. Could you shorten any quotations, deleting parts of a quotation that are not clearly relevant to the main idea that you are developing?
  7. Could you more effectively explain the meaning and relevance of some of the supporting evidence that you present?

Because the support and development of ideas is closely related to the organization of an essay, the course web pages linked under "Organization" above can help you strengthen the support and development of ideas in an essay. 

4. Style

The term "style" has various meanings when applied to writing, but we will limit the term to your writing at the sentence level: the words you use (or the diction) and how those words come together into sentences.

As you look for ways to strengthen the style of your essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are there any words that can be replaced with more effective synonyms?
  2. Do you use concrete and specific words and avoid abstract, vague, and general diction?
  3. Do you use a formal writing voice in your essay, avoiding such things as the first person ("I," "me," etc), contractions, and informal diction?
  4. Do you use a variety of words in your essay?
  5. Do you use a variety of sentences in terms of length?
  6. Do you use a variety of simple, compound, and complex sentences?
  7. Do you integrate all quotations into your own sentences effectively?

The following course web pages can help you strengthen the style of your writing:

You should also consider trying to strengthen the style of your writing by using some of the methods on the Strengthening Style exercise, which you will work on in class during the time when you are revising your essays.

5. Mechanics

"Mechanics" refers to the correctness of your paper. It is especially important to note that an essay must contain almost no serious errors to earn at least a "C." The college's Grading Standards for Students Essays is clear on this point, stating that a "C" essay "contains almost no serious errors in sentence boundaries, grammar, punctuation, and spelling." Significant errors in a final revision will result in a low grade for the essay, so do your best to understand, eliminate, and avoid errors.

The following course web pages can help you understand and avoid errors in your writing:

Copyright Randy Rambo, 2013.