ENGL 1020: Composition/Analysis
University of Memphis
Argument Revision Assignment
I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” — Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory, 1966
“I don’t write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn’t work, or what simply is not alive.” — Susan Sontag
“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” — Colette, Casual Chance, 1964
“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl
“The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” — Neil Gaiman
As the above quotes from famous writers explain, successful writers are successful revisers. Writing courses often don’t build in time to allow for revision, leaving the false impression that effective writing can actually happen in a few days or weeks. Thus, your final and major project of this course asks you to take all that you have learned about writing processes, composing, and research in order to revise your researched argument. You may use writing you produced in your first draft, but if the paper does not change significantly, then your essay grade will be lowered. Your goal for this paper should be to improve your argument and to improve your presentation (tone, sentence structure, organization) of that argument. This paper should be a minimum of eight pages and use a minimum of eight sources (five of which have to be academic/government).
What is revision? Revision involves making global changes to your writing. It involves deleting, moving, and rewriting large parts (if not all) of your previous drafts. It often means doing new research, finding new ways to discuss your topic, and even starting fresh—only pulling words from your first draft when absolutely necessary (and even then those words might need to change). Revising is not the same as editing and proofreading. Editing and proofreading focus on sentences, words, and correctness. Revision focuses on making meaning and on the overall organization and development of your argument.
This is the culmination of all of our work this term and is worth 35% of the semester grade.
This assignment is going to ask you to complete a number of steps in order to improve your essay.