Practicing Revision

Learning Objectives

  • Revise for the rhetorical context, style, structure, and claims

Now that you understand the difference between revising, proofreading, and editing, let’s think more deeply about the revision process.

A piece of writing might be fantastically written, edited, and proofread, but it might still need to be revised? Why? Because it might need to be revised for a different rhetorical context.

Rhetorical Context

The “rhetorical context” of a piece of writing is made up of three components: author, audience, and purpose. A piece written for a blog intended for teenage readers has a very different rhetorical context than a piece written for a scholarly audience. Each piece of writing needs to fit its rhetorical context.

To revise a piece in relation to its rhetorical context, we need to consider the purpose of the writing and its intended audience. For example, imagine that you wanted to encourage more people in your community to recycle. How would you explain the benefits of recycling to a group of your peers? How would you explain the same topic to a group of kindergarteners? To be effective with these very different audiences, you would need to change your approach.

Recycling bins

Figure 1. When writing a paper about recycling, you want to keep your audience in mind.

Style

Understanding rhetorical context often leads to style revisions. Style refers to the word choice, sentence fluency, and voice of a piece of writing. Returning to the example above, you would probably use simpler sentences and words when writing to the kindergarteners since this would be a more effective way to reach your audience.

Structure

When you revise for structure, you want to consider how well all the parts of the essay (or any piece of writing) work together and whether the order of ideas makes sense.

Claims

Anyone can write a claim, but to make that claim convincing, it should be supported with credible evidence. Evidence can come in many forms, including facts, judgments, testimony, and personal observation. However, kindergartners are probably going to be convinced by different types of evidence than your peers.

For example, which one of these statements might be more convincing to kindergartners?

  1. Principal Green wants all the students at Earth First Elementary School to know recycling is easy and important to our community.
  2. Uncontaminated glassware is common waste and can be upcycled rather than disposed of in end-cycle landfills.

Try It

Writing Workshop

Open your Working Document template and find the “Practicing Revision” heading.

  1. Read the following paragraph, and consider how you would revise it for Rhetorical Context, Style, Structure, and Claims. For this assignment, imagine that your purpose is to communicate the overall effects of regularly eating fast food, and your audience is college-educated adults.
    • These are some common effects that fast food has on the body. Eating fast food to much may causes a variety of things that are going on with the body and may lead to serious health problems. Many people like to eat fast food not just once but many times a week. This can become very dangerous to the body. While people are eating out so much people think that getting a salad or a food that is labeled “healthy,” but in reality, they are just as bad. It can be dangerous because most fast foods have high levels of fats, sugars, and sodium’s. Eating it can increase your cholesterol and high blood pressure and heart disease. And diabetes concerns. There are several negative effects like obesity and that is caused when people consume way too much unhealthy foods without exercising. While eating fast food some might believe that they are getting full, but actually they are starving because they are not getting enough of the nutrients they need. Fast food is a growing industry that will never stop, with that comes bad eating habits that can become very dangerous to many people.
  2. Revise the paragraph for Rhetorical Context, Style, Structure, and Claims, and post your revised version here.
  3. Write a reflection paragraph explaining the changes you made and your rationale behind these changes. For smaller, sentence-level revisions, you can highlight your changes and leave a comment in the margins (highlight the section, right-click, then choose “New Comment”).

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