Next, you’ll want to shape your writing into a complete draft for others to read. First, we’ll talk about “reworking” our writing, which we see as a messy step following the initial writer’s draft, making it into a reader’s draft. Then, we’ll move on to revision where the work is refined through changes in organization and structure.
There are various ways to approach reworking a draft:
- Create an outline of your ideas as you read through your writing. You can sum up each paragraph in the margin, write down questions, or categorize ideas. This is sometimes called a reverse outline.
- As you read the draft, look it over to see how your argument and ideas fit together, and move sections around thematically. You can cut up pages on your printed draft if necessary, or highlight sections that are similar.
- Briefly sum up your ideas after each sections (“What am I really trying to say in this argument/chapter/section?”) to articulate what you are trying to do in different sections. This can be like freewriting about each section to determine what you’re trying to say, and it can help you gain clarity.
- Do what works for you. Don’t try to force yourself into someone else’s method. Consider what has worked for you in the past, and adopt methods only if they fit your style. Remember, don’t get overwhelmed by working through an initial draft, break it into chunks to make it manageable.
General Tips for Reviewing Your Draft
- Look for materials that stand out as interesting.
- Look for questions that pop up as you read.
- Read and mark themes by color, number, letter, etc.
- Read through and put a check by something that seems (very) right, or (very) wrong.
- Cut out, but save, the paragraphs that have interesting ideas but don’t belong in that chapter. Put them in a specific file or section “to be used later” and hold on to them.
- Identify what you need or where you are struggling and ask someone else to work with you on these concerns. The Writing Center can be helpful here, as can friends, family, and colleagues. Visit writing.msu.edu to make an appointment at the Writing Center.