Revising the Big Picture of Your Essay Help (page 2)

Updated on Sep 6, 2011


Once you've got feedback and have taken your own notes on what could be improved, it's time to make changes. Those changes could be additions, deletions, or rewordings. The second type of change is probably the hardest. Especially if you don't consider yourself a strong writer, you may feel unwilling to give up a paragraph, or even a sentence. But revising is about keeping what works, and fixing or eliminating what doesn't. If it doesn't work, it detracts from the rest of your essay and needs to go.

Fulfilling the Assignment

On the largest scale, if your draft doesn't fulfill the requirements of the assignment, you need to figure out where you went wrong. You probably don't need to rewrite the whole thing, but rather shift the focus. Try rewriting the assignment in your own words to determine exactly what is expected of you. You may simply need to add a few sentences to your introduction and conclusion, or add a new paragraph that helps clarify your position. Don't stop reworking until your essay clearly and completely responds to the assignment.

Rewording Your Thesis

If your thesis isn't clear, or is not easily identifiable, you probably have one of these common problems:

  • No thesis. Your essay may have a lot to say, but its paragraphs are not held together by one controlling idea. This type of essay is often the result of insufficient planning. If you took the time to consider your audience and purpose, brainstorm, and develop a tentative thesis and outline, you should be able to avoid this problem. Go back to your prewriting notes to find the main idea you started with, and begin drafting a thesis from there.
  • Your thesis isn't supported by your essay. You do have a thesis, but the body of your essay supports another (perhaps similar) idea. This often happens when writers discover, through the drafting process, that they feel differently about their topic than they originally thought. As a result, they end up building a case for a different thesis. If your essay does indeed support an idea that's different from your thesis (and that idea still addresses the assignment), the easiest way to correct the problem is to rewrite your thesis to fit your essay.
  • More than one main idea. If your essay has two, or even three, main ideas, you may not have sufficiently narrowed your thesis during the planning stage. Recall in Lesson 5 the discussion concerning the need to have a thesis that correlates with the space confines of an essay. It must be broad enough to warrant an essay-length discussion, and narrow enough to be able to complete a thorough discussion within those confines. Or, you may have discovered other interesting ideas while drafting and decided to include them. As a result, you have two or three underdeveloped mini essays rather than one fully developed idea. If you have more than one main idea, see if there is a way to tie them together. Otherwise, choose the better of the two and revise your essay to develop that idea alone.

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