Chapter 1: The First Draft


Understanding how to revise the first draft is a task in and of itself. Your instructor will undoubtedly require you to develop a plan for revising shorter and longer papers. The process of developing a revision plan will help you prepare the final paper for submission.

The first draft is never a perfect paper. There are inconsistencies with the language. The logic of the paper is not cohesive. Many grammatical issues flood the paper. In this context, your professor’s objective is to highlight areas of your paper where you are ambiguous. Sometimes the professor will write a comment in the margins such as “much more could be said here” or “define this.” On the other hand, professors who teach junior and senior-level English courses will just use the comment “ambiguous” to describe a particular paragraph or line within a paragraph. As the student, your job is to figure out what the professor means regarding the comment.

To help students address problems with ambiguity, professors will require them to develop a revision plan. A revision plan is simply a detailed outline of how you will revise parts and sections of your paper. With a revision plan, you outline the problems present within your thesis, areas of a paragraph that don’t support a topic sentence, irrelevant quotes, inconsistencies between the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, and related grammatical issues.

A revision plan is a detailed outline of how you will revise all the parts of your academic paper.

The revision plan is a guide that you use to identify problems, describe goals, and establish a rewriting schedule. Table 1 represents a simple essay prompt that professors use to instruct students on how to develop a revision plan. Review the essay prompt. It will help you understand the exercises and explanations that follow after each margin comment.

The titles below fall under the first draft. Click on any one of the links to access content.

Ambiguous (Revision Plan)
An interesting idea, but it doesn’t work in every example.
Trust Your Voice
Great/Great Effort
Read Aloud
Very Strong First Effort
Need a Clearer Thesis
Needs Clarification
Avoid Slang and Informal Language
Clear Statement
Confusing, Confusing/Tangled Phraseology
Convoluted Sense
Could Be Better Worded
Discuss/Discuss This . . .
Don’t Write the Same Way You Talk (Avoid Slang and Informal Language)
Explain Exactly What You Mean Here
I Don’t Understand What You Are Trying to Say Here
Much More Could Be Said Here
Phony (Wordy)
Hard to Follow 

Hard to Understand
Use MLA Form


Examine Evidence from the Text
Explain the Parallel Here
How Does This Support
Explain/Explain This

Focus on a Topic

Focus on the Question

Excellent Synthesis


Doesn’t Respond to Question
Move Beyond Summary of Author’s Ideas (Analyze vs. Summarize)

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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