Revising is an important step in writing. In fact, revising is most of what writers do. In this chapter, you will practice this skill with a focus on descriptive writing.
Exercise 1: Word choice feedback
Compare these two versions of a descriptive paragraph. The first paragraph includes underlined sections where the teacher suggested adding more detail or better word choice. The second paragraph is the revision the student wrote in response to the feedback.
- What changes did the student make in terms of adding descriptions?
- What changes did the student make to word choice?
- What changes did the student decide not to make?
- What changes did the student make that were not suggested by the teacher?
- How do those changes impact the overall writing?
Original with feedback underlines:
Innovation allowed him to adapt to market requirements and raise his business when other companies were taking advantage. After almost two decades of production, the companies began to surpass in sales. The innovations that Henry Ford did until that time look for improve the assembly line and to improve the functionality. The cars were all one color because the drying time was lower than the drying time of the other colors. Due to this he realized he did not change according to the market. That's when he decided to turn to the model that he had been producing and start looking for more models, with the purpose of keeping the company. Then, Henry Ford started working in a new model called “Model A”. This model was available for sale in various combination of colors, depending on models, and after some years they were increasing and changing these colors (Sorensen, 1956, p. 223).
Innovation allowed him to adapt to market requirements and increase his business when other companies were taking the lead. After almost two decades of production, the competing companies began to surpass Henry Ford company in the sale of automobiles. The innovations that Henry Ford had done up until that time to improve the assembly line and the functionality of the vehicle kept the appearance of the cars the same. The cars manufactered were all black because the drying time of the color black color was lower than the drying time of the other colors. Ford was even quoted as saying "Give them any color they want so long as it is black" (Sorensen, 1956, p. 217). However, the increasing competition caused Ford to realiz the flaw that this emphasis on efficiency had: he did not change his product according to the tastes of the market. That's when he decided to turn to the model that he had been producing and start looking for more attractive adjustments for the consumers, with the purpose of keeping the company prosperous. Then, Henry Ford started working on a new model called “Model A”. This model was available for sale in various combination of colors. Ford demonstrated that he was aware of the innovations necessary to keep his product competitive.
Exercise 2: Word choice revision
Read through this paragraph. The student received feedback from the teacher that the paragraph is not descriptive enough for this assignment. Revise the paragraph by replacing the underlined sections with more specific vocabulary or phrases to provide a richer description.
An important person in my life was my grandmother. She lived with my family. She was kind and helpful. My grandmother made me feel special. She told me to work hard. I learned a lot from him. I am a better because of her example. Everyone needs someone like my grandmother to help them become better.
Exercise 3: Peer feedback
Read the student paragraphs. What suggestions would you give the authors?
- The reason that Matteo Ricci became a well-known figure in the Age of the Discovery not only because he translated the Elements of Euclid, but also, he is the first person to bring gospel to China. How Matteo Ricci, the missionary of the Society of Jesus, did the missionary work in China, where culture was totally different from him?
- Batman appeared for the first time with a large shawl, and the outside was bluewith a black, yellow belt. Bob Kane doesn't seem to draw too much shadow in bothcharacter and environment. Everything looks simple and clean, including everypainting. However, Kane's Batman doesn't seem to highlight his silhouette in muscles or the whole body, just some simple lines to represent the overall shape, chest muscles, thighs and arms.
- Micaela Bastidas all an example of woman. She was the Tupac Amaru’s wife, a man well known in Peru, but she forged a name for her own. She got married very young but raised all her children as an expert. She was stronger than her husband.Who is this extraordinary woman? Micaela Bastidas all an example of woman.
Exercise 4: Revise a body paragraph
Read the paragraph and revise it. First, check to make sure all of the supporting sentences support the topic sentence. Some information may be better for the introduction or another body paragraph. Also think about how to add commentary between quotes as necessary.
Joan of Arc was a brave leader who was sensitive to spiritual impressions. “At the age of 18 she led the French army to victory over the British at Orléans in the Hundred Year’s War. She was captured a year later and burned at the stake as a heretic by the English and their French collaborators. She was named as a Roman Catholic saint more than 500 years later in 1920. Joan of Arc was a young girl and her bravery and actions to protect France were unheard of for a woman. Joan of Arc is one of the most powerful female figures in French history” (“France’s Great Heroine,” 2009, para. 1). She became one of the great heroines through divine help. “At the age of 13, Joan began to hear voices, which she determined had been sent by God to give her a mission of overwhelming importance: to save France by expelling its enemies, and to install Charles as its rightful king” (“France’s Great Heroine,” 2009, para. 3).
Exercise 5: Check your own writing
Use these questions to evaluate your essay.
- Do you include an effective thesis? Does it match the style of the essay?
- Is the topic of your short descriptive essay focused? (not too general, not overly specific)
- Do each of the body paragraphs begin with an effective topic sentence?
- Are the body paragraphs sequenced in a logical order?
- Look at each body paragraph. Do the supporting sentences support the topic sentence?
- Look at each body paragraph. Are the supporting sentences sequenced in a logical order?
- Look at each body paragraph. Is there enough development? Are there more details or examples that would help the reader?
- Look at each body paragraph. Does the concluding sentence close the paragraph logically?
- Does the conclusion paragraph include a restated thesis?