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.
1 Exercise: 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:
Henrietta Leavitt was an astronomer at Harvard. Henrietta's job was recording the brightness of stars from the Harvard collection of images. At that time, women were prohibited from using telescopes, but they could look at the data. When Henrietta was working, she learned something interesting about the stars. Her work made it possible to measure distance between far away stars. This sounds like a small thing, but this knowledge made it possible to understand the universe beyond the Milky Way galaxy. Henrietta Leavitt's work was needed before other important research. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize, but she died before her work was fully recognized.
Henrietta Leavitt was a talented astronomer who worked as a "computer" at Harvard in the late 1800s. Henrietta's assignment at the observatory was recording the brightness of stars from the Harvard collection of images. At that time, women were prohibited from using telescopes, but they could look at the data. When Henrietta was working on recording data, she discovered that there was a connection between the periods of time and the brightness of stars known as Cepheids variables. This important discovery is known as Leavitt's law, or the period-luminosity relationship for Cepheids, and was an essential step to measure distance between remote stars that were previously impossible to determine. This sounds like a small thing, but this knowledge made it possible to understand the universe beyond the Milky Way galaxy. Henrietta Leavitt's work was necessary before other important astronomy research. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize, but she died before her work was fully recognized. Even though the name of Henrietta Leavitt may not be well-known, her contributions to science were a foundation for many of the exciting discoveries we enjoy today.
2 Exercise: 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 is Coach B. He was my soccer coach in high school. He was nice and helpful. Coach B made the team feel like friends. He told me to work hard. I learned a lot from him. I am a good soccer player because of his help. Everyone needs a strong teacher like Coach B to help them become better.
3 Exercise: Peer feedback
Read the student paragraphs. What suggestions would you give the authors?
- Firstly, Audrey Hepburn has been recognized by her work in many movies in Great Britain for many years. As a result, she was owner of many awards. As her life went on, she contributed to UNICEF and she took advantage of her fame in order to make many contributions to UNICEF (Ferrer and Dotti, 2017). Therefore, I think that she used wisely her fame and she was not selfish at all. She is an amazing example for all of us.
- William Tyndale achievement was the English Bible number one to reflect straightly from Hebrew and Greek passages; moreover, was the first English Bible to adopt the word Jehovah referring to God, because the English Protestant Reformers rather that name. Tyndale's translation Bible was the first of the reformation, and was stamped using the printing press. For the hegemony, it was hard to preserve the decrees of England, and Roman Catholic Church while keeping the church's position after the Tyndale's accomplishment. The English Bible was not the only legacy of Tyndale. William also wrote The Practice of Prelates in 1530. Having as a fundament the Scriptures, Tyndale expressed his disagreement against to the breakup of Henry VIII's matrimony. William said: "I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you" (Greatsite, 2016)
4 Exercise: 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?