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REVISING YOUR DOCUMENT

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The Second Phase • • • • • • • • • • •

Are my paragraphs well constructed? Are they linked so that argument flows easily from one paragraph to the next? Are my sentences well constructed? Are they clear and easy to read? Are there any excessively long sentences that would benefit from being broken down into shorter ones? Are there too many short sentences? Have I ensured that there is a reasonable variety in the length of my sentences? Is the language I have used clear and vigorous? Does it contain any clichés or inappropriate or mixed metaphors? Have I repeated any words or expressions too often? Are my grammar, punctuation, and spelling correct? Is my spelling consistent throughout the piece? Are all the headings and numbers styled consistently? Are there any peculiarities in my writing style that might put off the reader?

Let us now consider the two phases in more detail. It will be easier to do so, however, on the basis of an actual example.

AN EXAMPLE OF REVISING A TEXT Following is a short piece of writing as it might appear when the writer has completed the first draft. As usual, to be able to deal with the piece effectively we need to know the reason why it was written and the reader it was intended for. Let us suppose that a local dealership has decided to sponsor a competition for the best essay of not more than 600 words on the subject of “The Future of the Automobile.” The first prize is $100 and publication in the local newspaper. The readers, therefore, are both the competition judges— say, the owner of the dealership, the editor of the newspaper, and a high school English teacher—and the rest of the townsfolk. The Future of the Automobile Is it possible to imagine a future in which the automobile plays no part? Yes, it is possible, but the prospect is a scary one. Imagine the highways of this country deserted. Imagine the streets of our great cities quiet. Imagine trade and industry at a standstill, for there are no vehicles left to take goods where they are meant to go. Imagine the sky and the ocean empty of powered vehicles, too, for whatever kills off the automobile is going to mean the kiss of death for the airplane, the ship, and the railroad too. A world at peace or a dead world? That is the question. Our lives are shaped by our cars. The invention of the automobile at the end of the 19th century brought about a great leap forward in human freedom. A man who has his own transport is a free man. We are living in a go-where-you-like-any-time society. We like living in it and we are not going to give it up easily. And if the ordinary person could be persuaded or forced to part with his car, their are all the commercial interests—the companies who make vehicles, the companies who sell

Guide to good writing - Martin Manser  
Guide to good writing - Martin Manser  
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