Writing a Revision Memo for a First Draft

One of the principle goals of Writing 101 is to equip you to successfully revise your own work, not only with the assistance of feedback from your peers and your teachers, but also through careful and critical consideration of your own text. Writing a revision memo is a way self-consciously reflecting on this process of self-criticism.

For a first draft, one of the goals is to ensure that your paper is driven by an inquiry. As the the handout on “Drafting a Central Claim” (Duke TWP Writing Studio) declares, “Occasionally after drafting a paper, you may find you aren’t entirely sure what you’re claiming.” I’d like you to begin your revision memo, by filling out the template from the bottom of that handout, because it asks you to think directly about the nature of your claims:

I am studying (name your topic)

because I want to find out who/what/why (imply your question)

in order to understand (state the rationale for the question and the project)

In addition to narrowing in on your topic in this way, I’d like you to reflect on:

  • your draft as you initially conceived and wrote it,
  • any struggles you had with the first draft,
  • the changes that you decided to make in your second draft, and
  • the resulting final product and any questions or concerns that you might have for a reader.

Please bring a copy of your revision memo to class with you.

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