Critical Revision

“The writer must learn to read critically, but constructively, to cut what is bad, to reveal what is good.” 


In “The Maker’s Eye: Revising Your Own Manuscripts,” Donald Murray shows us the importance revision has on writing. Throughout this article Murray uses the word “critical” showing us how important it is in the revision process. While doing revision of your first drafts, it is essential to be as critical as possible in order to catch all your mistakes. Murray goes as far as to say “writers must learn to be their own best enemy.” By being extremely critical towards your writing you will be able to shine a light on everything that needs fixing. Some writers even say that no piece of writing can ever finish being revised, but by being criticall you can come as close as possible.  

Revision is to writing as frosting is to a cake, without it, it would be incomplete. Revision is different than actually writing because you are only critically fixing and correcting your written draft. While on the other hand, in writing you are trying to get down as many related ideas and thoughts down before they slip your mind. Hence, most first drafts end up having mistakes on almost every line. Revision then helps organize that raw first draft polishing it up over and over until it’s as close to perfect as writing can be. 

While undergoing the vigorous process of revision there are many key parts to remember. In Murray’s article he quotes Nancy Hale who says that the writer  “should be critical of everything that seems to him most delightful in his style.” This shows us that you have to revise the most critically toward the parts of your writing you feel most comfortable with. Eliminating any chance of bias towards your work. Although one might think it would be a good idea to let others check your work over for you, it’s actually not. They might not try and revise it critically enough, and will let you off the hook too easily missing important mistakes. Another valuable part is to try and look at your draft as if you are a stranger. This also helps you not have any bias towards your own writing. At the end of the day every aspect of revision is important to the overall goal of creating the best piece of writing possible. 

Revision plays a major role in the big picture of the writing process. The goal of the process is to have your writing as close to perfect as possible. In order to do so, we have revision. It gives you the opportunity to keep correcting and making your original drafts better and better. In order to get there you have to be critical yet stick to your original ideas and maintain the flow of your writing. Revision is what takes an average story, article, or even fairytale and turns it into an award winning piece of writing. Murray shows us how even famous writer Roald Dahl said “By the time I’m nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least 150 times.” We can learn from this that no matter who you are and what you are writing, revising your work will always lead to improvement.  


4 thoughts on “Critical Revision

  1. That quote by Murray about being critical of what you like the most stuck with me, too. You write, “This shows us that you have to revise the most critically toward the parts of your writing you feel most comfortable with. Eliminating any chance of bias towards your work.” What do you mean by “bias” here? What does “bias towards your work” mean to you do you think in this context? You mention bias a few times, it seems to be an important part of your thoughts here. Something to think about, don’t feel a need to respond. Enjoyed reading!

  2. I really liked the ideas presented here. I especially liked when you compared the concept of revision with icing on a cake. It made me think of revision as a beautification process. Adding quotes from Nancy Hale and Roald Dahl made the idea universal. It brought your point full circle and showed that its not just Murray or you who think this way. Other famous and successful authors do as well.

  3. I thought the quotes you used were great and gave me some thought on using some in future papers. It’s true that sometimes we are too generous/lenient with the quality of our work. One wants to live up to the ideals of perfection and excellence but that doesn’t line up with human nature, which always seeks an easier condition and easier life.

  4. Your post on revision was informative and agreeable because any work that is not revisited is surely bound to be full or grammatical mistakes and may even be incomprehensible. Thus, I agree that revision represents one of the most important aspects of writing. I especially like how you state that no piece of writing can be perfect but when revised critically, it may come close. This presumption is synonymous with the idea that there is no perfect model since perfection would imply reality rather than representation. Therefore, I concur that it is only when one revises their work with a keen eye that they can improve on both current and future writing.

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