It is often a challenge to get our student writers to return to a piece of writing and do revision work. In conferences, we have a better chance of helping students to revise if we do not offer myriad suggestions. One or two suggestions will help a student be more successful. When students become familiar with revision paths, they may be able to use a list of suggestions such as this list offered by Barry Lane in Writing as a Road to Self-Discovery:
- Write several new endings.
- Drop a character.
- Add a character.
- Add a fantasy element.
- Play with setting.
- Tell the story orally several times to two or three different friends and see if you change it. What parts did you add? What parts did you leave out?
- Change the target audience.
- RETELL old family stories, dreams, your own story from childhood. If you are trying this out as an adult, add your adult self to the scene(s).
Ask students to try out some of Barry’s suggestions with writer’s notebook entries or a current draft they are working on. A Japanese proverb says, “Beginning is easy – continuing is hard.” Writing processes can vary with the type of writing and the target audience and purpose for writing. What takes the most time is trying to figure out exactly what we want to say. Revision is essential to our process!