Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – Revise the paper to add more details

by Grace

The next part in Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of Writing to the Point calls for reviewing and revising the first draft of an essay to make it more specific and concrete (This is my 11th post about my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method, first explained here.)  For a recap, here are Steps 1 through 4.

STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)

STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)

STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)

STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.  (Chapter 4, page 43)

Don’t stop with a first draft.
Most first drafts need review and revision to produce a better final piece.  This Kerrigan assignment calls for a thorough inspection of the previously written essay, with the primary goal of incorporating more concrete details and examples.

THE ASSIGNMENT (page 67)

What?  Who?  For example?  Be specific! … Guided by such suggestions, but not limiting yourself to them, go through every sentence of your paper, changing every term – if you can – to something more specific and adding examples where you can.

This is the the first draft of  the essay I wrote for the previous assignment:

X  A student must have a regular schedule of study..
1.  A student needs a study schedule to maximize academic achievement.
2.  A student needs a study schedule to accommodate his other activities.
3.  A student needs a study schedule to maintain good health.

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X  A student must have a regular schedule of study.

1.  A student needs a study schedule to maximize academic achievement.  Since his first priority is usually his schooling, it is important that a student find ways to improve his academic performance.  One way to do that is to plan and implement a study schedule that will put his school work at the top of his list of things to do.  If getting an A in a chemistry test requires three hours of reviewing notes and practicing problems, then that time must be set aside to take precedence over television, Facebook or daydreaming.  For example, sometimes scheduling 20 minutes a day to review vocabulary words is the only way to get a top grade in Spanish class.

2.  A student needs a study schedule to accommodate his other activities.  While academics are his first priority, a student must also fit in all types of other activities into his routine.  Eating, sleeping, sports, club activities, and simply relaxing are usually all important aspects of a student’s life.  Without a schedule, time is frittered away and a student may end up sleep deprived or being kicked off the track team for missing practices.  All these different activities can be planned so a student will be able to perform competently in school and as well as in other parts of his life.

3.  A student needs a study schedule to maintain good health.  Without a schedule, the elements of a healthy lifestyle will suffer.  If a student neglects to plan ahead for sufficient study time, then he may find himself up late at night cramming for a test when he should be sleeping.  He may find himself eating on the run, which often means fast food and cookies instead of healthier options.  This can lead to poor nutrition, weight gain, or more serious medical conditions.  Making time for adequate studying causes a student to feel well-prepared, while the opposite causes stress.  Sleep deprivation, poor eating habits and high stress can be avoided by a well-planned study schedule.

I already had included many details in the essay.
When I reviewed my first draft, I only found a few instances where I could add more details and examples.  After all, the previous assignment called for the writer to “be specific and concrete, far beyond what you feel necessary.  Go all out in this respect.  Go into detail .  Give examples.”  I had taken those instructions to heart, and included plenty of concrete information in my first attempt.  But here are the few changes (in red) I made to the final paragraph of the essay.

3.  A high school student needs a study schedule to maintain good health.  Without a schedule, the elements of a healthy lifestyle will suffer.  If a student neglects to plan ahead for sufficient study time, then he may find himself up late at night cramming for a his geometry test when he should be sleeping.  He may eat too many meals find himself eating on the run, which often means fast food and cookies instead of fresh vegetables and whole grains healthier options.  This can lead to poor nutrition, weight gain, or more serious medical conditions.  Making time for adequate studying causes a student to feel well-prepared, while the opposite causes stress.  Sleep deprivation, poor eating habits and high stress can be avoided by a well-planned study schedule.

As you can see, I added a few more details, including the change I made to all the X-1-2-3 sentences that made it clear the essay was specifically about high school students.

WHAT I LEARNED
A review and revision of the first draft is important, offering an opportunity to clarify and enhance meaning by adding details.  Of course, a third (or fourth, fifth, or sixth) look often reveals more ways to fix mistakes, cut out extraneous material, and make other improvements to a written piece.

You can check out all previous parts to this series by clicking THIS LINK to my initial post.

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