Literary revision across cultures (Response to Kenneth Bruffee)

Revision, also widely known as rewriting is the process of remaking a piece of writing you have already written, and simply making it better by changing aspects of the work and making them more precise, interesting and focused. In the US the first draft of any writing in my opinion is the most important, because it is the basis of your entire literary work, but the first draft is mostly never published. The first draft of any work is very labor intensive, and the ideas and information going into it may be rushed and not clearly executed. Sometimes this type of writing can sound very similar to speech,and the only way to fix it is through revision. The process of revision is so extensive that sometimes the new drafts are entirely changed and resemble completely new pieces of writing. A major misconception that people believe is that editing is the same as rewriting. This belief is inaccurate because editing does not accomplish nearly as much as rewriting does, editing only fixes surfaces problems. In rewriting you must come to terms with your own writing you must identify and concretely know the strengths and weaknesses of your piece and work on developing them by creating new prose. The main goal of rewriting is to find where you have drawn attention to your reader and develop those areas and make them stronger and more visible without sticking to a particular side or perspective. (Bruffee) Bruffee explains the process of revision in the US through three steps that are: identifying comments from your reader that will help shape your essay, identify if you already have a plan and what you will add to change, and to identify any further new changes that need to be made. This process has a lot to do with feedback; feedback that is from others and not from the writer themselves. Culturally in US writing there is always some sort of feedback or critique that comes along with the writing. We see this through reviews, talkshows and essays about a specific piece of writing. In other countries there is a major difference. Culturally readers in other countries do not question the author’s beliefs or thesis of any piece of writing. Readers are not allowed to question and unclear thesis or the validity of any supporting evidence. (Bruffee) Therefore the process of rewriting based from others feedback doesn’t really happen in other countries around the world. The types feedback that these authors receive are responses; one’s not of opposition, but comments about what has been said. From what I have witnessed in class there is always discussion surrounding a specific reading that my class has read. Usually the teacher asks us to think about the writing we read in different and also comment on it in differents ways; which always entails an opposing point of view. I witness this a lot in academic classes in the US; so I took it upon myself to ask some of my peers who are from a different country particularly China, and the responses I received from them were that they weren’t really asked to critique any author they read about, and that this may have a lot to do with the revision process of their country.     

Roy Peter Clark the author of the article How Writers can Learn from documented Cases of Revision  looks back into history to truly understand what revision does for the writer of a paper and also other people revising the paper too. He argues the modernity of revision and states that do to revising on the computer the actual process of handwritten revision has been lost in the culture of writing and learning. Revision is not just a processes of strengthening writing revision is very influential in truly understanding the writing that you or someone else has created. Clark make a very important identification that is:  what revision does is gets us closer to our piece so we can have a deeper understanding of truly what we are writing. It is our understanding that helps shapes the changes we make to make our writing to create a stronger prose. Having those handwritten revisions really help because you can see the progression of your writing and what your original thoughts were so you don’t lose sight of what you were trying to say. Often times throughout revision your thoughts can wander by editing on the computer. This form of traditional revising stops that, and strengthens your piece even further. I think that as writers in America we should go back to the other ways of revision we have seen in history. In the present day if we infused the old ways with the new I believe the culture of writing and learning would become stronger.     


Rewriting: How to do things with text – Joseph Harris

Roy Peter Clark


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