This exercise is meant to be combined with the “Finding & Writing from a New Lead” exercise and, ideally, with Sondra Perl’s “Felt Sense” Exercise. Introduce your students to the concept of wholescale revision using Anne Lamott’s “Shitty 1st Drafts” and the accompanying slideshow. I recommend doing “revisioning” work as a class before asking the students to revise their own work. Have them work from the same student piece and compare and contrast their suggestions.
1. Rescue good ideas from where they’re buried at the middle or end of your paper and expand on what makes them interesting. Create new ideas by merging these new leads with your paper’s topic. How can they redefine your focus?
2. Cut out anything that’s boring, cliched, redundant, or predictable.
3. Is what you’ve written the full extent of what you believe? Contemplate different perspectives and rewrite whole sections of your paper accordingly. Every time you revisit a paper, you will likely have new ideas and have more to say on the topic than you did previously.
4. Rearrange paragraphs to make your paper more logical and more fun to read. Add and cut material as necessary to make the paper read smoothly.