• Linda Ulleseit, author

  • NaNoWriMo!

Revising for Word Choice

book_and_featherRevising any writing can be difficult for students. Teachers give them a hundred things to look for, and they are overwhelmed. As with any new skill, practice improves performance. By looking for required elements in writing, you  are learning. Next time you sit down to write, more of these elements will be included on the first draft. Revision becomes easy!

In this post, I will focus on revising for WORD CHOICE. It’s so easy to tell students, “Make your actual words better.” They look at you blankly. Every time we write a sentence, we choose which words to use. There is always different way to say something. Here are specifics to look for when making better word choices.

1. Strong nouns and verbs make your writing sing!

For example: This book is about dinosaurs.

Revised: This textbook describes Tyrannus Rex and his dinosaur brothers.

WARNING: Use a thesaurus to remind yourself of different words you already know. Don’t pick unfamiliar words because the part of speech or connotation may make your sentence incomprehensible.

 

2. Sentence variety prevents boredom in your reader! Some repetition is good–if you want to make a point or emphasize something important–but usually repeating the same sentence beginnings or phrases is lazy.

For example: Jack wrapped Tiger’s leash around the tree, around the rock, around the mailbox. His puppy would not escape again!

In this case, the repetition emphasizes the wrapping and requires no revision.

Another example: Jack tied up his dog. Jack went inside the store. Jack bought ice cream.

Revised: Jack tied up his dog, went inside the store, and bought ice cream.

 

3. Wordiness is a curse! Students sometimes think that using more words to express an idea shows they are intelligent. Not so! Express your ideas as clearly and concisely as you can.

Some examples:

I came to the realization that

I realized that

She is of the opinion that

She thinks that

Concerning the matter of

About

During the course of

During

In the event that

If

In the process of

During, while

Regardless of the fact that

Although

Due to the fact that

Because

In all cases

Always

At that point in time

Then

Prior to

Before

 

4. Pronouns can be tricky! Every time you use a pronoun, make sure the reader can tell who or what it refers to!

Example: Susie smiled at Rheya even though she didn’t like her very much. Who doesn’t like who?

Revised: Susie smiled at Rheya, even though Rheya didn’t like Susie very much. (This can actually now be revised for variety)

 

FINALLY, as with all revisions, have someone else read it to make sure that will all your changes you haven’t messed up the basic story. Happy revising!

 

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11 Responses

  1. thanks for the information about using sentence variety. I sometimes use the same words over and over in my stories

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  2. Thank you for the tips for better sentences. I will keep this in mind next time I write.

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  3. Now I will know how to revise my writing even more. Then, I won’t have any problems or mistakes to worry about.

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  4. I agree that having another person revise your writing allows you to maintain the storyline and not go off topic. Once I revised my narrative and after my sister looked over it, I found that I drifted off from the story completely!

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  5. This is extremely helpful and I will use these tips whenever I write anything.

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  6. I agree that sentence variety can be a big help a lot of times. (Example: He loves ice cream. He loves pizza. He mostly loves chocolate. Now, sentence variety can make it better. He loves ice cream, pizza, and mostly chocolate.) Sentence variety really makes long and short sentences sound better as you combine it into one sentence. It will surely make it easier and more enjoyable to read.

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  7. I didn’t know that using more complicated words don’t really make you sound smart! I think i’ll take that in mind when i’m writing.

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  8. I feel that repetition is something I need to work on. After I read how to use more sentence variety, I think that i will do much better on all my essays.
    Example of repetition: He ate pizza at the store. He walked into an ice cream shop.
    Variety: After devouring a pizza at his favorite store, Jon walked into an ice cream shop.

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  9. Thanks for the advice! I’m not the best writer, and sometimes I miss a lot of these things when looking over my essays. Also, I like that you have examples because when people talk about ways to revise, I think I know how I would use it, but I end up doing it wrong. Here, I can see how you would use these revising tips in a sentence.

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  10. Sometimes, revision is the worst part of writing. After I write something, I feel proud for a day before I have to revise it. Then, I never want to look at the story ever again. But I know I have to, so I will use these tips! Thanks! 😉

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  11. Now if I finish an essay, I know how to revise it. I have to improve writing my essays and these tips can help me very much. Thanks 🙂

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