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    Using Post-Writing Strategies

    Now, you have arrived at the final stage of the writing process: post-writing. This part entails looking over your draft critically, paying attention to content, organization, and mechanics by using techniques like revising, editing, and proofreading. While revising, editing, and proofreading are among the last things that you do when you finish writing a paper, they are not always the easiest. In fact, many students may take this part for granted—they think that once they have finished researching and writing their papers, their work is complete. That is far from the truth. In fact, post-writing is where the hard work of adding to, deleting from, rewording, and reorganizing your essays happens. Instead of being daunted by the task, you should take this as an opportunity to improve your essay—after all, the post-writing stage is an opportunity for you to discover new ideas and better ways of communicating those insights. This lesson will introduce you to the techniques that you can use for effective revision.

    Defining Revision and Editing

    Revision is the general process of going back through your whole draft, from start to end, and improving on or clarifying your writing subject’s meaning. This can include adding in, taking out, moving around, and polishing certain parts of your draft to make it much more understandable and easier for reading. Revision focuses on the bigger picture of your draft so you can resolve any significant issues on content that may have otherwise been hidden while you were writing.

    Editing, sometimes known as proofreading, is the more meticulous process of clarifying meaning by revising each word and line of your draft. This includes you working on grammatical principles such as subject-verb agreement, verb tense, noun and pronoun usage, prepositions, sentence transitions, and verb tense; and typographical matters such as punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. Note that while revision focuses .on the bigger picture of your draft, editing focuses on its finer details, making sure every word contributes precise meaning etc., your writing subject. Furthermore, when writers proofread, they mark their drafts by using editing symbols, which guide them in knowing what to remove, correct, or improve on.

    Always remember that revision and editing are two different activities. Isolating one from the other actually makes the rewriting process much easier. But whether you are revising or editing, it is important for you to revisit your work with an analytical eye so you can turn in a satisfying final draft with minimal errors. Only then will your draft be ready to face your readers.

    Steps in Revising Your Draft

    Revision can be simplified in two steps. The first step is to take a bird’s eye view of your draft, to reread it as a whole. Reviewing your draft this way lets you do two things: Check if you have attained your writing purpose (to entertain, to enlighten, to persuade, etc.) and check if you have used the language and tone that best serve your writing purpose. Note that at this level of revision you need not zoom in on any details yet, so you can do quick re-readings of your draft just to see whether or not it works overall.

    For instance, you just finished writing a short essay about the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Your purpose for writing it, was to share to other young readers how physically beautiful the hills were, and to entice them to visit the hills with their families someday. You wanted the language for your paper to be simple yet descriptive; the tone nationalistic. In revising your

    output, first, you would need to read your draft over, even just skim through it, to see if it conformed to all of the above. Let us say the following paragraphs make up the short essay that you wrote:

    How I love the chocolate hills of Bohol! They’re my favorite tourist spot here in the Philippines. I’ve only been there once in my whole life with my family, but I will never forget that one time we went. I was utterly captivated by the magical beauty of the hills the moment I first laid my eyes on them. I actually wonder if those hills had magical beginnings.

    I have heard at least two origin stories from my Iola about the chocolate hills. The first tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days, and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence it became the chocolate hills.

    The second origin story is a more romantic legend of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the chocolate hills were formed.

    For me, these two origin stories just add more to the natural beauty of the hills. I wish everyone could feel what I feel about our country’s national treasures. I encourage all high school students and their families to go visit Bohol now! Treat yourselves to a visual feast that you will never forget!

    Did this draft achieve the writing purpose you intended, which was to talk about the physical beauty of the Chocolate Hills? Was the language simple and descriptive enough? Did the tone that you struck evoke a sense of nationalism? Even just from one reading you should be able to answer all those questions, and know if the whole draft needs simple changes or a complete rewrite. Here, we see that it fails to picture the Chocolate Hills at all. The language is simple, yes, but not descriptive. And any sense of nationalism that the draft captures is weak and ignorable.

    Since the whole draft does not serve your intended purpose, going into finer details would be a complete waste of time. It would be better for you first to write from scratch until your draft achieved the purpose, language, and tone that you aimed for.

    Already satisfied with your overall draft? You can move on now to the second step of revision, which is reviewing your draft portion by portion and adding in, filtering, and re-organizing content according to form and flow. This narrower view of your draft gives you a better idea of what works and what needs work, with respect to the structure of your draft.

    What you will be keeping in mind now are the relationships between sections of the draft, the connections between your ideas from the beginning to the end. First of all, the beginning should hook in the reader, evoke his/her interest in your writing subject. Once he/she is interested, he/she will want to read your point-by-point discussion on the topic. Each of your points should support and lead to the next point, while moving your meaning forward. (This is especially true if your draft introduces new ideas previously unfamiliar to your reader.) If your draft raises any questions or issues in the reader’s mind, these should be resolved by the time he/she reaches your conclusion. Finally, the conclusion itself should be effective, leaving a lasting impression on your reader so he/she can continue thinking about your subject even after he/she is done reading.

    Other factors in writing may also need to be considered. Writers look at the form they have used for their drafts, for example. If your purpose for writing is to describe a person

    or a place, then you should be working on a descriptive essay. If you are shedding light on a current event, then you should be working on an expository essay. The pace of your draft is also important. It should be fast enough that it can hold the reader’s attention all throughout, but slow enough that the reader has time.to digest all of your points. Then there is also proportion: sections of your draft that drag on unnecessary details should be trimmed down, while sections that fall short of detail should be expounded on.

    Let us go back to your short essay on the Chocolate Hills. Say you rewrote it from scratch and ended up with the following draft:

    I have a lot to say about the chocolate hills of Bohol. Out of all of the tourist spots to see here in our country, it was only the chocolate hills that have amazed me. Nothing else comes quite close.

    Let me tell you just how remarkable they are? imagine hills and hills and hills, spread for and wide across the land. Want to know how many there were? 1,268 all in all. (I find that number astounding; when I first visited the hills with my family lost year, I could only count at least two hundred from where we stood.) If you added just a few hundred more hills, they would actually be as numerous as our country’s islands!

    The most striking thing about the hills, though, is their color. When you go there in sunny weather you’ll see the hills turn brown. Think a light, nutty brown just like Chocnut. (Or Cadbury, if you prefer milk chocolate.) On the other hand, if you went there in rainy weather you’d have seen the hills turn a luscious leaf-green. Green like the peaceful Pampanga countryside when you pass through North Luzon Expressway. If you ask me, those are very pleasant colors to the eyes, you could just stare at them for hours and feel relaxed.

    How tall is each hill, you ask? Each one is about 30 to 50 meters (or 100 to 160 feet) in height. That’s thrice the height of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park. Doesn’t that just make you shrink?

    I have heard at least two origin stories from my Iola about the chocolate hills. The first tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days, and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence it became the chocolate hills.

    The second origin story is a more romantic legend of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the chocolate hills were formed.

    The innate, natural beauty of these bilk just made me proud to be a Filipino. I hope that you find your love for our country too by traveling around to see what our own lands can offer.

    From one reading of this draft you can see that it details the Chocolate Hills quite adequately, so it works for your writing purpose much, much better than the last one. With that in mind, you can focus now on the individual paragraphs and see if it tells your story in a form and flow your audience can follow easily. As you go, you can trim, rearrange, and develop certain parts, as well as insert new information.

    After going through the writing again, we see that the two paragraphs on the origin stories of the Chocolate Hills add no value or relevance whatsoever to the draft’s purpose of picturing the said tourist spot. Therefore, we can safely remove these without compromising the remaining content. Furthermore, the facts that you shared on the Chocolate Hills can be re-ordered for better coherence and understanding, as shown below:

    Let me tell you just how remarkable they are? Imagine hills and hills and hills, spread far and wide across the land. Want to know how many there were? 1,268 all in all. (I find that number astounding; when l first visited the hills with my family last year, I could only count at least two hundred from where we stood.) If you added just a few hundred more hills, they would actually be as numerous as our country’s islands!

    How tall is each hill, you ask? Each one is about 30 to 50 meters (or 100 to 160 feet) in height. That’s thrice the height of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park. Doesn’t that just make you shrink?

    The most striking thing about the hills, though, is their color. When you go there in sunny weather you’ll see the hills turn brown. Think a light, nutty brown just like Chocnut. (Or Cadbury, if you prefer milk chocolate.) On the other hand, if you went therein rainy weather you’d have seen the hills turn a luscious leaf-green. Green like the peaceful Pampango countryside when you pass through NLEX. If you ask me, those ore very pleasant colors to the eyes, you could just stare at them for hours and feel relaxed.

    Lastly, say you suddenly wanted to write about the forests surrounding each hill because you thought they added more beauty. Do not be afraid to use the inspiration; plunge right in and write about it! Just make sure that your new content ties in neatly and smoothly with the rest of your draft.

    Essay Revision Checklist

    Still lost on how and where to start revising? Below is a handy, constructive checklist you can refer to in the meantime. It is likely that a lot of the questions you will see below, you have already answered in the initial writing of your draft. This checklist is just here to help you weed out any remaining problems you may have missed out on.

    • Do I have a big idea I want to express, an important message to send out? Do I have an audience who will listen to me? Who is my audience?
    • What is my purpose for writing? Have I achieved it?
    • What language and tone do I take in my writing? What point of view and voice? Are all these appropriate to my purpose for writing, and the audience I am speaking to?
    • Do I have enough credibility to speak on my chosen subject? Can I back up all of my discussions on the subject with confidence and sufficient knowledge?
    • Does my draft make a central point? Have I defined the limits of my draft well, so that only essential information is included? Is the context of my draft established?
    • What form of writing does my draft take? Is it the best venue for my ideas to be expressed?
    • Does the beginning of my draft draw the reader in? Does it introduce my subject to the reader well?
    • Do my succeeding points support my beginning statements? Does each idea connect to the next one? Do all the sections of my draft move my discussions on the subject forward, toward the conclusion?
    • Does the conclusion make the reader think? Does it answer all the reader’s questions on my subject?
    • Is the pace of my draft just right? Is it slow enough so the reader is not left behind by my discussions? Is it fast enough so the reader’s interest still stays with me?
    • Does the draft read smoothly and coherently overall?
    • What are the strengths of my draft? How can I make these stand out more?
    • What are the weaknesses of my draft? How can I improve on these?

    Steps in Editing Your Draft

    Once you have revised all the content of your draft to your liking, you can now proceed to the final stage of the writing process: editing. Remember that editing (or proofreading) is revising your draft line by line, word per word, according to proper grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. While that is how the process goes, editing must be viewed as your final preparations and changes on your draft before it faces your readers. To effectively get your message across to them in the best way, you, as the writer, will need to be very concise in your writing and make every word count. Therefore, you will be required now to be more thorough than ever in re-reading your drafts and spotting errors.

    Never make the mistake of editing your works before revising the content. This is common among most teachers and students nowadays: To start the rewriting process by attacking grammar and form first, and then content. It will never work, since there is no use in editing a draft whose meaning was not even clear or developed in the first place. Always make sure that content is clear before you start editing.

    As in revising, you will also be required multiple re-readings of your draft in editing, with each re-reading having a different editing focus from the last, so you can spot errors more accurately. For example, take a first re-reading to check only for subject-verb agreement and correct pronoun usage. Your second re-reading will have you focus next on sentence fragments and run-on sentences. Your third re-reading will focus on spelling, your fourth re-reading on punctuation, and so on and so forth. You may need to make as many re-readings as you can to minimize the risk of error in your draft. This may take some time on your part, but rest assured there is nothing more satisfying than turning in a final draft that reads effortlessly.

    For a better idea of how editing works, let us go back to the draft on the Chocolate Hills. From one re-reading with capitalization and punctuation as the focus, you can already see that the letters “c” and “h” in “chocolate hills” should be capitalized (since the phrase is a proper noun). And the declarative statement “Let me tell you just how wonderful they are” should be punctuated with a period, and not a question mark. A second re-reading focusing on sentence construction will reveal to you that the following statements should be cut into two separate sentences so that they do not read as one long and tedious run-on sentence:

    If you ask me, those are very pleasant colors to the eyes, you could just stare at them for hours and feel relaxed.

    In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had mode during their battle, hence it became the chocolate hills.

    Again, you need not stop there. Take as many re-readings as you can until you are sure that all possible errors have been addressed.

    This also gives you an overall idea of what editing allows you to do. By reading through it again, you may discover a new angle about your subject that you would like to tackle. Or, you may stumble across some new information which may bring your points to a clearer light.

    Common Editing Symbols

    Finally, remember that writers usually note errors in their drafts by marking them with editing symbols. Though these symbols need not be used in the editing process, they are very helpful because they give the writer an idea of how the specific error should be corrected. For your reference, below is a list of common editing symbols. Study them at your own time and pace, and practice using them on your drafts until you feel you have mastered them already. This will also help you understand any markings that your teachers or classmates may use when giving comments on your work.

    Common Proofreading Symbols

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