Friday, February 11, 2011

September 1976: Thoughts on Revision

Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.

Revision Checklist…not meant to be all inclusive…merely an aid to revision.”

(1) Don’t bind yourself to your original intention. Writing is an act of discovery. Once the material is down on paper in rough draft form, it may be necessary for the writer to revise his original intention and work with the intention of the language he has set down.

(2) Nothing is sacred. No matter how provocative an image or a phrase or a word may seem to the writer, he mjust keep in mind that anything can be deleted or altered to achieve clear writing.

(3) Look for the beginning, middle, and end, anywhere. The beginning may come where the ending is; the end may be what the writer thought was the middle; and the middle could be anywhere. The writer must discover through revision where these elements are and not assume that his first choice was the correct one.

(4) Be aware of the mixed associations of words. Different words mean different things to different people. The writer must make the best possible word choice and be aware of the different possibilities of meaning of the words.

(5) Keep your usage and punctuation straight. No matter what form the writer is working in, the standards of usage apply and must be kept in mind. On punctuation: just as bad word choice can mislead the reader, so can bad or incorrect punctuation confuse the writing. P. 68.

Comment: What exactly does “revision” of writing mean? Does it include “editing”? I have always thought of editing as dealing with surface features like punctuation that are conventional, but in this writer’s context, punctuation can affect meaning. I guess I would say that if the change affects meaning, then it is revision. What do my readers think? RayS.

Title: “Revision As a Creative Process.” Bruce Weigl. English Journal (September 1976), 67-68.

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