From First Draft to Final Draft: How to Revise your paragraph

After you finish the first draft of a paragraph, a sense of calm settles over your body. "At last," you say, "I’m done." We all write to various stages of "done-ness" in our first drafts, but no one is ever truly finished after the first draft of a paragraph. So, after you complete your first draft of your paragraph, you should consider the following steps to work toward making it more polished.

First, you need to take some time away from your paragraph and then have a friend or family member read it and offer feedback. We all need some distance from our work in order to be better critics. Having someone else read your writing can help.

Start with the Big Stuff

Unfortunately, successfully revising your paragraph does not entail changing a couple of commas and fixing one or two spelling mistakes. After you’ve written your first draft, think radically about how you can improve your paragraph. This may involve rewriting part or all of that first draft. Taking the comments from your peers and/or family, you should begin revising, paying particular attention to the following items:

Content: Did you respond properly to the assignment? Did you understand the assignment and the directions you were given? Can you rewrite your introduction or other parts of your paragraph to make it respond more directly to the assignment? Perhaps in writing your first draft, you now understand better what it is that you want to explain.

Organization: Does your paragraph have a clear structure, or do you wander from point to point? Did you organize your sentences in a logical way? Do you have a "topic sentence" that states the main idea of your paragraph?

Clarity and Style: Do you have too many "to be" verbs in your paragraph? Do you write in the passive voice too often? Do you have too many words like: "very" and "extremely"? Read your paper out loud and mark any places where your language sounds awkward or unclear. If you wrote anything other than a narrative, did you use third person point of view?

Time4Writing provides practice in this area. Sign up for our High School Paragraph Writing course or browse other related courses below to find a course that’s right for you.