How to Self Edit (to Improve Writing)

By Bates, Dianne | Practically Primary, October 2011 | Go to article overview

How to Self Edit (to Improve Writing)


Bates, Dianne, Practically Primary


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

'NOW WRITE THE STORY,' you tell your students after spending much time motivating them and discussing ideas. Then, as your students strain their brains to come up with a half-way decent plot and a beginning sentence that will hook their reader's attention, you wonder what the result will be. You know that writing is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. Your students perspire--lots. Some take a long time to get words on paper. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, they finish the first draft of their stories. The relief of being able to produce an abundance of words often produces a lush of accomplishment, a desire to immediately hand in their work, and a conviction that you, their teacher, will surely be impressed.

Student writers are often so excited to finish assignments that they never get past the first draft.

   Student writers are often so excited
   to finish assignments that they never
   get past the first draft. They think their
   piece of work is wonderful, not because
   of what it is, but because they wrote it.

They think their piece of work is wonderful, not because of what it is, but because they wrote it. They do not want to part with a single word. Professional writers, however, have a totally different attitude to their first draft: they are pleased to find how many words they can cut in successive revisions. Proficiency in editing is the key to excellence in writing. Thus, if you want your students to get top marks in writing assignments, you must teach them how to edit ruthlessly and efficiently.

It is difficult to be critical of your writing when you have just completed your first draft. The creative part of the brain is still switched on. Time allows the writer to more objectively see laws in their writing, so it is best to have them put their work aside for as long as possible before editing it.

   ... if you want your students to get
   top marks in writing assignments,
   you must teach them how to edit
   ruthlessly and efficiently.

Teaching editing

One way of 'teaching' editing is by sharing a first draft with your class on the interactive white board. Point out how the draft might be improved using techniques in this essay. Later, when they have confidence in editing, students might form small critiquing circles to workshop one another's drafts. Working as a team is a sure-ire way of enabling students to transfer editing skills from class exercises onto their own drafts. So what do students need to know about how to self-edit?

Put simply, there are four main processes at work in editing: adding words, deleting words, changing words and moving words.

The processes of editing:

* adding words

* deleting words

* changing words

* moving words

Professional writers would agree that the greater part of revising drafts is removing words already written and then improving the words that remain. Putting the best word in the right place is at the heart of all good writing, as is getting rid of all unnecessary words. Sometimes, in order to achieve this, the writer might have to change ten words for every five originally written.

Each and every word in a sentence should play a vital role. Words must it the exact shade of meaning. One of the most valuable means by which students can strengthen their word power is by regularly consulting--and using--a thesaurus. When teaching them to self-edit, have them get into the habit of underlining over-worked or cliched words. Challenge them to add zest to their writing by searching for synonyms to replace all sub-standard words. Aim, too, for them to use the most specific words. Student writers often use words that are vague and open to interpretation. The word 'tree', for example, is vague, whereas 'palm', 'sapodilla' and 'acacia' are specific. 'Dog' is vague whereas 'greyhound', 'terrier' and 'spaniel' are specific. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How to Self Edit (to Improve Writing)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.