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Revising for Clarity and Focus

Revising for Clarity and Focus

Author: Mackenzie W

Understand how to revise an essay for focus and clarity.

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Hi everyone. I'm McKenzie, and today we're learning about revising for clarity and focus. Have you ever wondered how you can tell if your ideas are clear enough to other people? In this tutorial, we'll learn about revising for content. We'll discuss revising for the rhetorical situation, and we'll take a look at an example of revising for clarity and focus. When we revise a piece of writing, what we're doing is we are revisioning or rethinking the ideas, support, and organization that we've included in that piece of writing. One of the main ways that we have to approach this is to think about the thesis, because the thesis is the driving force of the essay.

There are some questions we need to ask ourselves when we are revising for content. Here's how we can best approach revision and content. Because the thesis is the key component of the essay, we first have to ask ourselves if the thesis is effectively written. First, we need to read through the entire essay, paying close attention to the thesis and the support of the thesis. Asking ourselves if we still agree with the thesis. It's possible that through the process of researching your topic and explaining your topic in the essay, you may no longer agree with your thesis. If that is the case, it's time to revision or rethink your thesis so that it best reflects your ideas about the topic.

If we do still agree with the thesis, we have to determine if the thesis truly does express our main point concisely throughout the paper. Next we need to think critically about each of the body paragraphs within the paper itself. Looking at them one by one to determine, first, is this paragraph supporting my thesis. Next, is this individual paragraphs supporting just one main idea or topic, and is that topic reflected in a topic sentence that tells the reader exactly what the paragraph is going to be about. Then we look at the additional sentences, the supporting sentences of the paragraph.

Do they support the topic sentence, the main idea of the paragraph. And do they help to support the overall thesis of the paper? If there are some supporting sentences that don't directly relate to the topic sentence of the paragraph or that don't help to support the overall thesis, we need to eliminate them even if they are interesting sentences. Next we have to think about the ideas communicated in the topic and supporting sentences. Are the ideas clear enough? Are the ideas well supported? Do I feel like I need more support to clearly express and explain my ideas? Or perhaps, I may need to include some additional ideas to better support my topic sentence, and therefore support my thesis.

Do I need some additional ideas to make the paper more interesting or complex? Have I adequately supported the ideas in my paper? Do I need additional support? Is there better evidence that could make my paper stronger? While I am using outside pieces of evidence and support, am I citing them correctly. Am I giving credit to the authors whose work I have used as support and evidence for my ideas? And I have to ask myself, if my ideas are clearly connected to each other. Have I demonstrated the ways in which my ideas relate to each other, relate to the topic sentence, and relate to the thesis? Does my introduction effectively state my thesis? And is the introduction engaging and interesting to encourage the reader to want to keep reading my essay?

Remember the introduction does not have to be the first thing you write. In fact, it may be easier to write the introduction after you have finished drafting and perhaps revising your body paragraphs. Lastly, we can think about revising the conclusion. We have to ask ourselves if the conclusion effectively summarizes what we have written in our paper. And we have to decide if there is anything else we can add or change to make the conclusion more interesting or more complex.

When revising our writing, we also have to think about the rhetorical situation because components of the rhetorical situation are always present when we write. We ask ourselves the following questions to help to revise for the rhetorical situation. We first think about the purpose of the writing. When we began writing, we had a purpose in mind. And now that we're revising, we have to ask ourselves if we have fulfilled this purpose. What evidence do we have that we have in fact fulfilled our purpose for the writing?

If we have not fulfilled it completely, what can we add or change so that we are fulfilling the purpose. For example, if your purpose was to persuade your reader, why do you think the writing is actually persuasive. Do you think it's persuasive enough? Next, we think about our intended audience. We write a piece of writing for our particular audience. And we have to ask ourselves if we've written it in a way that appeals to, or convinces that audience most effectively.

What is our evidence that we have or have not addressed that audience in the best way possible? If you don't feel as though the audience is being addressed correctly, what can you add or change to the writing so that it is best suited for that particular audience. And we need to think about any instances of bias or unstated assumptions that may be coming across or may be reflected in our writing. Do I have a bias regarding the topic, and could that be causing a problem with the ways in which I write the information.

Should I address the bias? Do I have any unstated assumptions that are inadvertently being expressed in my writing? Do I need to reflect upon those? Does my writing need to be adjusted so that it sounds less biased, or so that I clarify any unstated assumptions I may be making? Here is an example of revising content and revising for the rhetorical situation to help us to add clarity and focus to our writing.

We first see that the thesis of this paper is that the decrease in manners in the United States poses societal concerns, and focus should be placed on improving manners. We know that whatever follows in the following body paragraph needs to match the thesis. We see that this is body paragraph number four, which means that there were some additional paragraphs before this that perhaps had discussed other topics related to the thesis.

We'll first look at the topic sentence to decide if it relates to the thesis itself. The topic sentence reads, society as a whole may suffer the consequences of the decrease in manners. This topic sentence mostly relates to the thesis. In the thesis we said that the decrease in manners poses societal concerns. And the topic sentence says that society may suffer the consequences of the decrease in manners. The only problem here is the word may. It says that this might be a problem, whereas the thesis states that this is a problem.

We should revise by taking out the word may and replacing it with the word will, so that the topic sentence better matches the thesis. Next we have to take a look at the supporting sentences. The supporting sentences in this paragraph offer statistics from Good Housekeeping magazine. The statistics demonstrate that Americans perceive lack of manners to be a problem. And even though the nature of this support is effective as it relates back to the thesis, it's sort of misplaced for this particular paragraph.

The topic of this paragraph is that there are consequences of the decrease in manners. The topic is not whether or not manners are actually decreasing. It's likely that we've already demonstrated that earlier in the essay. So that means that the supporting sentences here are in need of revision. We need to find additional evidence or support to prove the facts that there are consequences to the decrease in manners. I need to revisit the researching stage of the writing process to do so.

Even though I now know that the evidence will need to be changed, I can see that I do have some effective transitions within my paragraph. The transition of the last sentence of the paragraph is rather smooth, connects the ideas in the supporting sentences to the main idea of the paragraph. I do have a little more work to do yet, because this paragraph isn't as clear as possible. I say that the results of rude behaviors are plaguing society, but I never once say what those results actually are.

In order to make this more clear, that is something I should include in my supporting sentences. And I should think about my rhetorical situation. It's possible that I'm making some unstated assumptions through this writing. My supporting sentence tells me that 79% of Americans perceive that manners have decreased, and perhaps an unstated assumption is that the audience will also agree with me. I'm assuming that the audience is part of that 79%.

What if my audience included the remaining 21% of Americans who do not agree that manners have decreased. By making an unstated assumption that the audience already agrees with me that manners have decreased, it skews the way I've written the information. This example demonstrates to us the ways in which we can use revising for content and revising for the rhetorical situation to help to focus our writing so that it is as clear as possible.

In this tutorial, we learned about revising for content. We discussed revising for the rhetorical situation, and we looked at an example of revising for clarity and focus. Make sure your ideas are clear to other people. I'm Mackenzie. Thanks for listening.