National Writing Project

A Short Take on Revision

By: Mark Farrington
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 8, No. 4
Date: Fall 2003

Summary: To help promote revision, Mark Farrington of the Northern Virginia Writing Project gives students a number of exercises designed to show them that writing is fluid.

 

In teaching revision, I give students a number of exercises designed to show them that writing is fluid. I'll ask them to change the point of view of their stories, for instance. I'll have them go to a spot in the story where something happens and write "What if?" in the margin, then list five other things that could happen instead. The point is to demonstrate that working with a piece of writing is more like working with clay than with granite. Writers can add, remove, or reshape anything at any time; some writers even continue to revise a piece after it's been published. When it comes to a piece of writing, nothing is written in stone.

About the Author Mark Farrington is a fiction advisor for the Johns Hopkins M.A. in Writing Program in Washington, D.C., and an administrative assistant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project. He has published numerous short stories and articles about writing and the teaching of writing.

This teaching strategy originally appeared in The Journal of the Virginia Writing Project (Vol. 23, Issue 2). It is reprinted with permission.

PDF Download "A Short Take on Revision"

© 2019 National Writing Project