Revising the Paper
Questions to Ask Yourself When Revising an Essay:
(from Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing About Art, inside cover)
- Have I studied the object with sufficient care so that I understand what qualities in it caused my initial response, and have I studied it with sufficient care so that I have deepened or otherwise changed that response?
- Is the title of my essay at least moderately informative?
- Is the opening paragraph interesting, and by its end, have I focused on the topic?
- Is the work of art identified as precisely as possible (artist, material, location, date, etc.)?
- Do I state my point (thesis) soon enough—perhaps even in the title—and do I keep it in view?
- Is the organization reasonable? Does each point lead into the next, without irrelevancies and without anticlimaxes?
- Is each paragraph unified by a topic sentence or topic idea?
- Are generalizations and assertions about personal responses supported by references to concrete details in the work?
- Are the sentences concise, clear, and emphatic? Are needless words and inflated language eliminated?
- Is the concluding paragraph conclusive without being repetitive?
- Are the dates and quotations accurate? Is credit given to sources? Are photocopies of works of art included and properly captioned?
- Are the long quotations really necessary? Can some be shortened (either by ellipses or by summarizing them) without loss?
- Has the essay been proofread? Are the spelling and punctuation correct? Is the title of the essay in proper form? Are the titles of works of art--other than architecture--underlined? If there are any footnotes, are they in proper form?