Wednesday, August 1, 2007
WRITING IS LIKE COFFEE
EDITING VS. REVISION
Revision and editing are practically the same thing, right? Dude, where do you get those ideas? Some people may think this (we aren’t necessarily implicating you), but editing and revision are very different processes. Assuming revision is simply changing words, fixing some commas, and moving one paragraph is a dangerous assumption when revising. This is editing. When writing teachers ask you for revision, they’re probably looking for re-vision, that is, to have the vision again. Yes, this sounds scary, but if you do it, you’ll impress your professor. Revision and editing are like coffee. Some days you’re doing pretty okay and maybe only need a tall. Sometimes if you’re feeling shlumpy, you may need a grande. Other days just suck, and you definitely need a venti. If major revision were coffee, it would be the venti.
What does that mean? Well, to start with, you may have to re-think your idea or even change your thesis. In its most radical stages, revision could entail completely rewriting your whole paper. This could happen if you finish your paper and realize the last sentence in your conclusion is really what you want to write. But it might mean that you haven’t clarified your thesis and simply need to rewrite the introduction so it’s coherent. It might mean that you have a super duper introduction, but got bored and rushed through the rest. Your ideas might not be fully developed, so you need to go back and unpack them. (i.e. rewrite these paragraphs.) You may have one awesome paragraph and some muddy ones. Perhaps that awesome paragraph really comes first and the rest just needs to be thrown out and rewritten. Occasionally, revision could be paragraph rearranging if you’ve already rewritten a lot, but we would consider this only a grande. Revision can mean a lot of things, but editing it is not.
What is editing then? If you are sick to death of your paper and can’t possibly think of anything to add or rewrite and find yourself simply fixing comma splices and changing words with a thesaurus, then you’re probably editing without knowing it. Even going through and fixing little lexical ambiguities falls under the heading of editing and proof reading. Things are good. You only need a tall.