To learn that revising is not the same as editing: truly, it’s a creative and often playful act.
To revisit our earlier work with Barry.
To practice revision techniques as a means of understanding what true revision can yield in writing.
| Project Requirements
In the TED Talk we viewed this unit, you learned from Peter Dolittle the challenge of attending to all the details of writing—and how our minds can only handle so much at a given time. With this project, you’ll see the wisdom of Doolittle’s commentary as you attempt a revision of your first piece, the Narrative. Since so many weeks have passed, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your original draft. That perspective will help guide the changes you will make.
The piece you will produce during this unit will be a deep revision. This is less about “fixing” and more about playing, developing, and deepening. The new version of your old Narrative should be a very different draft from the original; the idea here is to see what happens if you allow yourself to truly revise (to re-see, in other words).
To push you beyond making small adjustments to the draft, however, I’m going to give you some specific approaches to pick from to guide your revision: choose one. Depending on what your old draft was like, one of these is sure to be a good fit and should push you to do the kind of big revision we are striving for:
If your original piece covered too much time, let the revision handle a smaller chunk of time by focusing ONLY on the original narrative’s beginning, middle or end. This forces you to develop and deepen the draft.
For another variation on re-seeing your narrative and its use of time, completely rework the chronology: for instance, if you presented the original parts in order—say, 1, 2, 3, 4—then in this version go with 3, 2, 4, 1. This involves more than just copying and pasting the parts; you really have to rework everything for the reader. With this option you absolutely have to start and end in a different place on the story’s timeline than you did in the original version.
A more radical challenge involves using the revision project as an opportunity to show something completely different using the same story. If the old draft told a story about learning to drive and focused on your relationship with your dad, maybe the new version tells the same story but focuses on your younger brother’s resentment that you were becoming a grown up. It’s the same event, but a different theme and focus—you’d have to let the story’s arc unfold differently due to that major change.
If your original version was very orderly (but bland, in your view), maybe a more collage-like approach would force some interesting exploration. You could try weaving in quotes from a source text, like this piece by Sarah Freligh
(Links to an external site.)
weaves in passages from an anthropology textbook, as you jump more poetically through your story. Here, the source text “speaks” to the parts of the story that follow.
If your draft was really successful the first time through because you’d done a lot of deep revision, then try something really radical: refashion your piece into the form of a listicle, as you’d find on Buzzfeed. For an example of how a narrative could work as a list, take a peek at these
(Links to an external site.)
, including this one
(Links to an external site.)
by Bonnie Jo Campbell.
I believe all of the above options call for completely new openers and closers, so I’ll expect to see that in your project.
As part of your revision work, you are welcome to go with new approaches to point of view (say, writing the piece in third or second person) or verb tense (writing in present instead of past, for instance). Truly, you can change anything but the original topic.
The final piece should still be 1,000 words (double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman).
Finally, at the end of the project or in the Comments section on Canvas after you upload your file, I’d like a brief bit of commentary from you of about 200 words: Which option did you pick, and why? What was it like to reshape the original piece? What’s surprising or interesting about the new version?
| Additional Tips
This project is about revision as play. If you submit a Narrative that is basically your old draft, with a little bit of editing done, you might, at best, earn a barely-passing grade for this project. This project is not about correcting typos. It’s about reshaping the draft. I’ll be expecting the new version to be quite altered from the original version.
This project is about revision as play. If you submit a Narrative that is about something completely different altogether than the original, i.e. you’ve simply changed topics, then you will not earn a passing grade for this project.
| On Grading and Evaluating Work
The COM Department evaluation criteria for polished, developed work. I’ve added my own comments to explain them further, so I hope they are helpful!
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