THE ABCS OF NONFICTION REVISION
© Pegi Deitz Shea
A IS FOR ACTION – Nonfiction perhaps needs more action verbs and active voice than fiction. Count the number of verbs of being (is, are, was, were) in your paper. How many can you change? Change the passive voice to active by finding the true subjects of your sentences and leading off with them. Count the number of verbs per sentence. Are you using several weak ones instead of one strong one?
B IS FOR BEGINNING – Your thesis statement should be in your first paragraph, but it doesn’t have to be the first sentence. Start with a question, or a quote from your text or criticism to illustrate and prepare the way for your thesis.
C IS FOR CITING – Use critics’ or experts’ theories to strengthen your argument or as points to argue against. (Follow your teacher’s preferences, or MLA Style book to attribute quotes.)
D IS FOR DESCRIPTION & DIVERSITY– Nonfiction needs descriptive language too: similes, metaphors, analogies. Use a diverse mix of sentence lengths and structures—even interjections and exclamations--to keep your discussion lively.
E IS FOR EXAMPLES – Back up your opinions with examples from your texts. For instance, The Ogre’s wife is a better mother to Jack, than his very own. At the sign of trouble, she hides and protects Jack; whereas Jack’s mother insults him, “Why, you stupid boy…”
F IS FOR FINISH – While you need to re-state your thesis (having proven it), leave your readers with an invitation to continue thinking about the issue or approach with different texts; or with a bit of humor in a clever turn of phrase. For instance, After all, the beanstalk does tumble down, thwarting Jack’s stalking of the wealthy father figure.
G IS FOR GRAMMAR - …and spelling and punctuation and all those things you’d rather forget. But errors can be as deadly as the tiniest amount of e-coli. Don’t trust your computer to catch/correct your errors. Only you know what you intended to write, so proofread carefully