How do I evaluate my draft?

There are a few different things you might think about as you try to evaluate your own writing and find places to revise. You might look for places where your ideas don’t transition well. You might try to consider your audience’s point of view. You might look for places where you have a good idea, but you need to give it more explanation. Or, you might play “devil’s advocate” with yourself, asking about opposing viewpoints and challenging your own ideas. Hannah, Shirley, and Zeinab talk about each of these approaches to evaluating your first draft for revision possibilities.

Listen to Hannah, then Zeinab, talk about how they go about critiquing their own drafts. What do they suggest? What is difficult about this approach — what obstacles can you imagine encountering? Practice taking this “outside perspective” on a piece of your own writing, and compare what you find to a classmate’s reaction to your piece. How are your critiques different from or similar to an outside reader’s response?

We often hear students struggle to expand and explain their work; page length can sometimes stress students out more than the development of their argument! Students often find, once they’ve done a bit of revising and received feedback, that they have many ways to expand and explain their ideas to meet — and often exceed — page requirements. However, if you struggle to find places to expand your ideas, listen to Shirley talk about expanding and explaining, and remember: just because it seems obvious to you doesn’t mean it’s obvious to your reader! We recommend over-explaining and then cutting things back later.

Ready to develop a revision plan? Check out how students set their priorities for revision.


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