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English 10: Class Notes  Notes on Revising a Story

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This week, the class worked together to discuss revision and to look at student writing to improve and strengthen it. Teacher comments are in italics.

Morning Class (Afternoon Class)

Student Examples of Revision:

One student read her work again to revise it and changed words to become more exact than before. For example, she had said first, “She did not want to” and second she said, “She is not interested in.” The reason for her revision was that the girl in the student’s story was only five years old, so “want” did not seem quite right for her age.

The student has really “seen again” her story as she has tried hard to make it more true to life than it was before. She has the reader’s interest in her mind and wants that reader to accept the point of view more easily.

Spelling correction is not really revision, though necessary. Save it for your final copy, along with comma errors, missing prepositions, missing or incorrect articles (a, an, the) and so on.

Another possible revision for this story would be for its setting. Is, for example, a boy’s room showing his character as I wish?

Another would be to add or subtract a character or give a more complete character for someone.

Revision is many things, including thinking about the story while walking around (after writing a draft) and evaluating and judging how well you have written.

Officially, thinking before you begin a story is called “pre-writing,” in Brad’s view this is slightly incorrect as anything you do to help with the physical writing is writing.

Setting:

Spring was the most favourite season for Lin, especially after she had found the botanical garden.

The story begins in the past tense. The student has chosen to do so because the story, as many stories about children are, is looking back (and so, too, is O’Failain’s story, “The Trout”)

Not far from Lin’s home, there was a garden planted with various trees and exotic flowers. [Describe one, such as a “tulip tree”] Though entering it was forbidden to children, it was always easy for Lin, a five-year-old girl, to squeeze and creep through the fence and find funny things there.

The setting creates curiosity in the reader and it indicates quite a bit about the girl’s character already.

Character

Sharon began to fear the dark night outside when Ma was reading stories at bedtime. She was six years old, but still needed the lights on the whole night, because she was afraid to die while sleeping.

Children often have irrational fears (ones that adults no longer have or don’t think about). To include this fear makes the story stronger, as most of us can relate or remember.

Repetition is a very strong technique, when used carefully. In this example, “night” was repeated three times, but two seemed enough.

Dialogue:

“Mum, Mum, here is a bird!”

This sounds quite natural for a kid, especially saying the name twice.

Afternoon Class Notes

Discussion on the meaning of revise:

Revise means review or read it again or check it again. It may mean correct it. Check the spelling.

Revision is not the same as review. To review might mean only to read it carefully again. Revision means more than that, and perhaps includes change of some kind.

He is a man of vision, who can see more (understand and know) than the average person.

So, to revise has more to do with seeing more or different things than to review something.

Examples of Revision:

Moving parts of the story from one place to another. The reason was so it was more understandable.

Removing whole sentences is revision. The story was not better with those sentences, so the student omitted them.

Revising is when I added some new points of view to my paper to improve it.

As metaphor: As in improving the quality of a car, a revision of a piece of writing is the same job.

Corrections (but not, really, revision):

Check the spelling, the commas, the articles (a, an, the), and the subject-verb agreements.

Setting:

It was summer holiday, the first time we visited my aunt’s house in the beautiful small village. I had never been in such a scenic place that looks like a picture. A clear riverlet passes by the front of my aunt’s house and a lychee orchard behind the house. The ripe lychee is a burning fire when you see it from far away. (From the story, “Boating”)

The setting in this paragraph accomplishes a great deal. We know the season, the physical place (village, south China, its beauty), the specific orchard tree, the relative’s house, and the water. Few words establish a complex picture.

The student uses an appositive phrase after the comma in the first sentence. It is a very good way to introduce details about a noun (often the object) to a reader. For example, “Brad owns a car, a 2001 Mercedes Benz parked in the staff parking lot outside the school.” (He wishes!)

The two metaphors: one about the place equals a picture; the other about the fire equals the tree. One is simile (using “like”) and the other is metaphor (the tree IS fire). Metaphor is a stronger comparison and for the fire image of the tree, it is suitable to be stronger.

Character:

Nada was an eight-year-old girl playing with her brother Ali and a couple of friends under her favourite almond tree.

In the story, “Climbing the Almond Tree,” the little girl, Nada, is introduced through her actions and thoughts rather than described by the narrator.

He liked to read and loved to do the scientific experiments.

In the story “Friendship,” the boy is described as in the above sentence and also by actions and thoughts.

 

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