“The best writing is re-writing.” ~E.B. White
I love this quote by E.B. White because it’s so true! As much as we’d like our writing to come out perfectly the first time, very nearly all writing needs to be re-written. Here are some great tips for re-writing in English:
1. Start global and go local
No, we’re not talking about traveling! If you are writing a longer piece, such as an essay for school, start global (meaning go big!) and look at “big picture” things like thesis, organization, and support for your ideas.
Note: When writing essays in English, make sure you organize your paper in the way that English papers are generally written – with the main idea at the beginning of the essay, support in the middle, and a summary conclusion at the end. Other parts of the world teach organization for formal writing differently, and you want to make sure you’re following the correct format.
From there, work down to the “local” level – meaning the smaller details such as spelling, punctuation, and grammar of the essay.
2. Read it aloud
No matter how short or long your writing is, or what your purpose is for writing, reading your work out loud is crucial for hearing how your words sound together (the rhythm of your writing!), and guaranteed, you’ll find spots where you can smooth things out. In addition, you can often catch many local errors reading aloud, since it forces your brain to slow down to the speed of your speech.
3. Read backwards
Seriously! Read the last sentence, then the second to last, and so on – out loud. This method is great for finding local errors.
4. Reverse outline
This tip is great for making sure your organization and support are in check!
See if you – or better yet, a friend – can determine your structure and supporting ideas by plotting them out in an outline. Need a blank outline? Click here for templates.
5. Grab a buddy
Speaking of friends, having a fresh pair of eyes on your writing in general is great for catching errors both big and small.
6. Take the grammar “bit by bit”
Proofreading your writing in another language can be daunting, but make it easier by taking small steps!
Focus on these areas one at a time as you read through your writing:
- Subject-Verb Agreement
- Verb Tense
- Run-On Sentences
- Sentence Fragments
- Word Forms (i.e. “The globalization world is changing all the time.” should be “The globalized world is changing all the time.”)