Since you’ll be receiving a grade based on the holy 6 traits of writing, I thought I might suggest a simple revision activity that would help you polish the paper in each of those 6 areas. I might humbly suggest that if you seriously ran your paper through each of these 6 exercises, you would likely end up with an A (or better) on your essay. Behold:
1. Ideas: Kill two birds with one stone by trying to summarize the idea of your paper in one simple, attention-grabbing title. You need a title anyway, and if you can’t think of one its a sure sign that your essay isn’t focused on any particular idea.
2. Organization: Some teachers want you to outline before you write. I prefer to outline after I write. “Reverse-outline” your essay by reading through your essay while writing on a separate page the basic gist of each paragraph. Look at the outline you just created–does it present a report or an argument in a natural, logical way? Is there any obvious question the reader might have that you have left unanswered? Does each paragraph have a job–a single idea (or piece of an idea) to convey?
3 . Voice: How does one revise for “voice”? When you read your writing, does it sound like you? Is it appropriate for your audience?
4. Word Choice: Read through (yes, again), and circle any words you consider “uncommon.” Try replacing these fancy words with more common words. Beware of the thesaurus–only use a new, “big” word if you have verified it’s the absolute best word for that phrase. Don’t use big words just for the sake of, well, bigness. Finally, confirm your use of each of these commonly confused words:
5. Sentence Fluency:This one’s easy, yet I’ve only ever met one or two students willing to do it. If you choose only one revision activity before handing this paper in, choose this one.Go in a room alone and read the paper out loud to yourself. Mark any spot where you become confused or where a strange word or phrase derails your natural reading style. These are places that will trip up any reader–especially one with a red pen and a gradebook! Pay special attention to sentences that are missing verbs, or sentences that run on and one without proper punctuation like commas and periods because it’s totally required to put in commas and periods some students forget to do this it makes it really hard to read see?
6. Conventions: With these conventions, you either know them or you don’t. Even if you know them, it’s sometimes hard to spot small errors in the writing you’ve been staring at for hours already. The best and only way to scrub an essay clean of “conventions” errors is to have a smart person read it. So, find a smart person, and ask them to read it and mark any grammar, punctuation, or formatting they think is wrong. Then go back and fix it. (Beware: Nobody knows everything about grammar, some things come down to opinion, and some reader/editors may lead you astray–take their advice critically and don’t fix stuff if you’re pretty sure it’s right the way it is.)