“What did you do in class today, sweetheart?”
“Oh, we just sat around rereading our stories and fixing them up.”
“That, Chili Bean, is not ‘nothing!’ It’s the SOME in something!” I answered.
Always the editor, I launched into a short exhortation extolling the value of revision. “It’s the spit and polish that give pizazz to a ho-hum pile of words,” I explained. “Instead of an article which resembles a pair of old scuffed shoes with untied laces, your writing can rock like a pair of red-soled Louboutins.” (It helps to use a teen’s vocabulary.)
I stopped short of a full harangue, since my younger daughter has heard this editing advice before. She just needed a refresher course.
However, for those who have not been privy to my writing revision checklist, here are a few tips. Whether 8 years old or 80, following these pointers will make your words pirouette instead of slog along. (Of course, you must have a solid idea or plot outline in place before you get to this point.)
7 Revision Reminders
1. Read your text aloud. Do your thoughts flow with rhythm? Hearing your own voice will help you ferret out missing words and homonyms. It helps those wrestling with punctuation, too.
2. Transitions can make or break an essay. If thoughts jump around on paper, it’s hard for the reader to follow. Make a list of transition words and use them. They are like the clutch, when shifting gears manually in a car. Grinding gears make people cringe, as do abrupt changes in thought.
3. Double check each proper name, as well as facts and numbers. Do they make sense? Is the spelling of the name consistent throughout the piece?
4. Let your writing sit for 12-24 hours. Fresh eyes can locate redundancies. Use a highlighter to note repeated words. Then go back and substitute synonyms, but only if they seem natural. Never force it. Underline action verbs and consider whether a stronger verb would convey your thoughts better.
5. Check your work for spelling errors. Use your computer or trusty Webster’s. When writing, learn to trust the little voice in your head. If you hesitate over a word’s spelling for even a moment, look it up. The key to being a good speller is not necessarily having a great memory. Knowing when you don’t know something is equally important.
6. Have a friend or family member read your writing. Ask them if anything is confusing. Where would they like more details? Do you go on and on about an unimportant point? Flesh out your ideas where needed and learn to use your eraser or delete button.
7. Three is the magic number. If you are making a point, three examples are much stronger than a single example. …Cue the Three Dog Night lyrics:
“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.
Two can be as bad as one.
It’s the loneliest number since the number one.”
Revision is perhaps the most underrated SECRET to good writing. Add frequent exposure to good books and essays, and your writing is bound to improve. …Now, please let the cat out of the bag!
Big Universe is the perfect place for young ones to hone their writing skills. Not only can they read more than a 1,000 quality books, but they can create stories, too. The website’s graphics library stimulates ideas, and young authors can use the author tool to write their own tales. Each version of a book can be saved, allowing revision the next day or the following week.