CoverObjectivesThe Writing ProcessAddressing the PromptPrewritingWritingRevisingOriginalityTimed Writing 1Integrated Writing 1Essay Shape and OrganizationIntroduction ParagraphsBody ParagraphsConclusion ParagraphsReference PageA Shifting StructureExample EssayTimed Writing 2Integrated Writing 2Descriptive EssaysExample Descriptive EssayPrewritingWriting: Word ChoiceSources: QuotingRevisingRevise a Descriptive EssayExplore Other Genres: Creative WritingTimed Writing 3Integrated Writing 3Personal StatementsExample Personal StatementTypes of Personal StatementsOrganization for Comprehensive Personal StatementOrganization for Prompted Personal StatementWriting: DevelopmentRevisingRevise a Personal StatementExplore Other Genres: Formal EmailsTimed Writing 4Integrated Writing 4Cause-Effect EssaysExample Cause-Effect EssayPrewritingWriting: UnitySources: SummarizingRevisingRevise a Cause-Effect EssayExplore Other Genres: ReviewsTimed Writing 5Integrated Writing 5Persuasive EssaysExample Persuasive EssayPrewritingWriting: CohesionSources: ParaphrasingRevisingRevise a Persuasive EssayExplore Other Genres: ReflectionsTimed Writing 6Integrated Writing 6Appendix A: Argumentative EssaysExample Argumentative EssayStructure of an ArgumentPrewritingWriting: Cohesion in ArgumentsRevisingRevise an Argumentative EssayAppendix B: Using SourcesFinding SourcesIn-text CitationsMore about Reference PagesAppendix C: Extra TOEFL ResourcesTOEFL Integrated WritingTOEFL Independent Writing
University Prep Winter Writing C

Revising

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.

Exercises

Exercise 3.24: 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.

Revised paragraph:

       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.

Exercise 3.25: 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.

Exercise 3.26: Feedback Comparison

Read the student paragraph. What suggestions would you give the author?

       Third is the end of draft. During the Vietnam war, men of more than 18 years old drafted and they were forced to go to the war and sacrifice their life for the country. But after the Vietnam war, President Nixon decided to abolish the draft and change to all volunteer soldiers before the election of 1972. The end of the draft was a significant change for the US. Also, it was not just the abolishment of the draft, but the voting age also changed. When the draft was in place, 18 year olds could not vote. That was a problem that required an urgent solution. The president Nixon, like he promised, ended the draft. According to a CNN article, "This initial foray into 'wedge politics' would help Nixon win a controversial re-election in 1972 in a landslide" ("Five Ways the Vietnam War Changed America,"  para. 2).  So, the law he changed also helped him win the election.

Now compare your suggestions to the feedback given by a teacher.

TS= Topic sentence; CIT = Citation; IR= Irrelevant; CS= Concluding Sentence

       TS Third is the end of draft. During the Vietnam war, men of more than 18 years old drafted and they were forced to go to the war and sacrifice their life for the country. But after 1972, the Vietnam war, President Nixon decided to abolish the draft and change to all volunteer soldiers before the election of 1972. CIT The end of the draft was a significant change for the US. IR Also, it was not just the abolishment of the draft, but the voting age also changed. When the (Why? How?) draft was in place, 18 year olds could not vote. That was a problem that required an urgent solution. The president Nixon, like he promised, ended the draft. According to a CNN article, IR "This initial foray into 'wedge politics' would help Nixon win a controversial re-election in (CIT) 1972 in a landslide" ("Five Ways the Vietnam War Changed America,"  para. 2).  So, the law hechanged also helped him win the election. CS

Exercise 3.27: Peer feedback

Read the student paragraphs. What suggestions would you give the authors?

  1. 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.
  2. 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)

Exercise 3.28: Check your own writing

Use these questions to evaluate your essay.

  1. Do you include an effective thesis? Does it match the descriptive style of the essay or written piece?
  2. Is the topic of your short descriptive essay focused? (not too general, not overly specific)
  3. Do each of the body paragraphs begin with an effective topic sentence?
  4. Are the body paragraphs sequenced in a logical order?
  5. Look at each body paragraph. Do the supporting sentences support the topic sentence?
  6. Look at each body paragraph. Are the supporting sentences sequenced in a logical order?
  7. Look at each body paragraph. Is there enough development? Are there more details or examples that would help the reader?
  8. Look at each body paragraph. Does the concluding sentence close the paragraph logically?
  9. Does the conclusion paragraph include a restated thesis?
  10. Do you use rich descriptions throughout the essay or written piece?