Revision (writing)

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Revision is the stage in the writing process where the author reviews, alters, and amends her or his message, according to what has been written in the draft. Revision follows drafting and precedes editing. Drafting and revising often form a loop as a work moves back and forth between the two stages. It is not uncommon for professional writers to go through many drafts and revisions before successfully creating an essay that is ready for the next stage: editing.

In their seminal book, The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White acknowledge the need for revision in the writing process: “Few writers are so expert that they can produce what they are after on the first try. Quite often you will discover, on examining the completed work, that there are serious flaws in the arrangement of the material, calling for transpositions... do not be afraid to experiment with your text.”

Successful revision involves:

Identification of thesis. The purpose of the essay should be re-considered based on what has been written in the draft. If this purpose differs from the original thesis, the author must decide from which thesis to continue writing.

Consideration of structure. The author should identify the strengths of the draft, then re-consider the order of those strengths, adjusting their placement as necessary so the work can build with auxesis to a crescendo.

Uncovering weakness in argument or presentation. Once the strengths of the draft have been identified and placed in the strongest order, the author can re-examine the work for weaknesses in argument or presentation. Faulty logic, missing transitions, and unsupported or poorly supported assertions are common weaknesses. Identifying these weaknesses during revision will inform the next draft.

Successful revision is not improving grammar or diction. Those will be the focus of later editing.