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Why Do I Need To Revise? - A First Draft is Not a Final Draft

Your first draft of any writing assignment should never be the version you hand in for grading. To avoid being judged on incomplete or awkward writing, finish your draft as quickly as possible, at least a few days before the paper is due.

Here are some suggestions for the difficult task of re-seeing a first draft:

  • Put the completed draft aside for a day and distance yourself from it.
  • When you pick it up again, first re-read the assignment and write out a quick answer to the main question. Then compare it to your tentative thesis.
  • Make an outline that shows the skeleton of ideas in the first draft. Number each paragraph and state the point it makes in a complete sentence using different words. Do not copy a sentence you have already written. Continue until you have a list of all of the ideas in the paper.
  • Then re-examine this "skeleton" with a critical eye. Ask yourself:

    • Are my key points in order? Is there a leg bone where a knee bone should be?
    • Are there smooth transitions between the main sections? What muscles connect the bones together?
    • What key statements need more evidence and more analysis?
    • What weak statements can I cut? Which don't make sense, are repetitive, or don't relate clearly to my thesis?

The purpose of revising is to create a structure that is strong and balanced.