40 Revisions

Writing 40 pieces of writing doesn’t help us much if we don’t figure out how to make each one better than the last.  So, once we have a few pieces written, we’ll  start working on revising them to make them better and better and better.

Every piece that you write will be saved, so that you can go back any time and make corrections, changes, additions, or edits to them.

About once a week, you’ll focus on one aspect of writing, and try to master using a different skill that makes your writing stronger.  Each time you work on a skill, you’ll pull out one of your writing pieces and practice your new technique on that piece.   If there’s one particular piece of writing that you like best, you can keep working on it week after week, but if you get tired of it (or get it to the point where it’s as perfect as you can make it), then we’ll retire it and work on something else.

When you’ve revised a piece, you’ll show it to me, letting me know which skill you were working on, and we’ll see how you’ve done.

Forty Revisions  
Finding a topic The writer offers a clear, central theme or a simple, original story line that is memorable.
Focusing on a topic The writer narrows the theme or story line to create a piece that is clear, tight, and manageable.
Developing the topic The writer produces enough critical evidence to support the theme and shows insight on the topic.  Or they tell the story in a fresh way through an original, unpredictable plot.
Using details The writer offers credible, accurate details that create a picture in the reader’s mind, from the beginning to the end.  Those details provide the reader with evidence of the writer’s knowledge about and/or experience with the topic.
Creating the Hook/Lead The writer grabs the reader’s attention from the start and leads him or her into the piece naturally.  They entice the reader, providing a tantalizing glimpse of what is to come.
Using sequence words and transition words The writer includes a variety of carefully selected sequence words (such as later, then, and meanwhile) and transition words (such as however, also, and clearly), which are placed wisely to guide the reader through the piece by showing how ideas progress, relate, and/or diverge.
Structuring the body The writer creates a piece that is easy to follow by fitting details together logically.  They slow down to spotlight important events or points, and speed up when they need to move the reader along.
Ending with a sense of resolution The writer sums up their thinking in a natural, thoughtful, and convincing way.  They anticipate and answer any lingering questions the reader  may have, providing a strong sense of closure.
Establishing a tone The writer cares about the topic, and it shows.  The writing is expressive and compelling.  The reader feels the writer’s conviction, authority, and integrity.
Conveying the purpose The writer makes clear their reason for creating the piece.  They offer a point of view that is appropriate for their mode (narrative, expository, or persuasive), which compels the reader to read on.
Creating a connection to the audience The writer speaks in a way that makes the reader want to listen.  They have considered what the reader needs to know and the best way to convey it by sharing their fascination, feelings, and opinions about the topic.
Taking risks to create voice The writer expresses ideas in new ways, which makes the piece interesting and original.  The writing sounds like the writer because of their use of distinctive, just-right words and phrases.
Applying strong verbs The writer uses many “action words,” giving the piece punch and pizzazz.  They have stretched to find lively verbs that add energy to the piece.
Selecting striking words and phrases The writer uses many finely honed words and phrases. Their creative and effective use of literary techniques such as alliteration, simile, and metaphor makes the piece a pleasure to read.
Using specific and accurate words The writer uses words with precision.  They select words the reader needs to fully understand the message.  The writer chooses nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and so forth that create clarity and bring the topic to life.
Choosing words that deepen meaning The writer uses words to capture the reader’s imagination and enhance the piece’s meaning.  There is a deliberate attempt to choose the best word over the first word that comes to mind.
Crafting well-built sentences The writer carefully and creatively constructs sentences for maximum impact.  Transition words such as but, and, and so are used successfully to join sentences and sentence parts.
Varying sentence types The writer uses various types of sentences (simple, compound, and/or complex)to enhance the central theme or story line.  The piece is made up of an effective mix of long, complex sentences and short, simple ones.
Capturing smooth and rhythmic flow The writer thinks about how the sentences sound.  They use phrasing that is almost musical.  If the piece were read aloud, it would be easy on the ear.
Breaking the “rules” to create fluency The writer diverges from standard English to create interest and impact.  For example, he or she may use a sentence fragment such as “All alone in the forest,” or a single word, such as “Bam!” to accent a particular moment or action.  They  might begin with informal words such as well, and, or but to create a conversational tone, or they might break rules intentionally to make dialogue sound authentic.
Checking spelling The writer spells words correctly.  They take the time to check spelling.  When mistakes are made, they are at least phonetically correct.
Punctuating effectively and paragraphing accurately The writer handles basic punctuation skillfully.  They understand how to use periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation points to enhance clarity and meaning.  Paragraphs are indented in the right places.  The piece is ready for a general audience.
Capitalizing correctly The writer uses capital letters consistently and accurately.  A deep understanding of how to capitalize dialogue, abbreviations, proper names, and titles is evident.
Applying grammar and usage The writer forms grammatically correct phrases and sentences.  They show care in applying the rules of standard English.  The writer may break from those rules for stylistic reasons, but otherwise abides by them.
Pick any two x 2 (this category and all the ones below can not be chosen until all the ones above have been completed) Pick any two categories and revise the same piece of writing for both of them.
Pick any three x 2 Pick any three categories and revise the same piece for all three of them.
Pick any four x 2 Pick any four categories and revise the same piece for all four of them
Pick any five x 2 Pick any five categories and revise the same piece for all five of them
Pick any six x 2 Pick any six categories and revise the same piece for all six of them.
Pick any seven x 2 Pick any seven categories and revise the same piece for all seven of them.
Pick any eight x 2 Pick any eight categories and revise the same piece for all eight of them
Pick any nine x 2 Pick any nine categories and revise the same piece for all nine of them.

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