Friday, July 18, 2008

A Guide to Revision, Drafting, and Conventional Writing

Writers of English make thousands and thousands of decisions about language and grammar while composing. The most accurate guiding principle for a writer in academic or scholarly situations is that writing should be purposeful with all choices working either within the appropriate conventions or against those conventions as elements of the writer’s craft.

The following guide lists most situations a writer will face. Each aspect of language use is numbered (with no real rhyme or reason for that numbering except to facilitate identifying elements in a draft for the writer) and followed by some tentative explanations and occasional examples.

Each aspect addressed is intended to raise the writer’s awareness of elements of language use, but the final decisions for completing a draft of an original work of writing is the responsibility of the writer—not to be dictated by those who offer advice and input during the drafting stages.

When possible, additional resources are offered. Writers must learn that a wide range of expectations and attitudes about language exist. Language use is not guided by “rules,” but written discourse is bound by an ever-evolving set of conventions that are organic and that tend to support the power of language to communicate.

When revising, a writer should focus proportionately on the aspects of the writing that matter most first, leaving the less important aspects of writing for later in the writing process; for a consideration of higher order and lower order concerns while revising see the following: