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Rutherford High School RWC

The Process of . . . Revising

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Titles can give your reader an overview of your text or the title may stimulate interest in the text. I find titles help me focus my writing, but I often revise the title once the text is complete.


  1. Write down the same number of words, phrases, or sentences that are not in your draft. Play with three of them and turn them into possible title. Put the best one on your Title List.
  2. Create five titles--- each must use a different one of your five senses---taste, sight, feel, smell, sound. Choose the best of these for your Title List.
  3. Write ten titles that derive from other arts—songs, movies, plays, well known cultural artifacts. Best one, of course goes to your Title List.
  4. Write a one word, then a two word, then a three word, then a four word tiles (continue on as far as you can, even to a twenty word title). Choose the three best for your Title List.
  5. Write a title beginning with the word “On…..” Beginning with an –ing  word, beginning with “In…..” Choose on for you Title List.
  6. Write three titles that play on 1) regional sayings, 2) clichés, 3) folk sayings. Put all of these on your Title List.
  7. Write the most obvious title for your piece. A title that’s a lie. A title for the essay you wish you had written instead of this one. A title that is obviously visual and concrete. Choose one of these for the Title List.
  8. Write a separate title using each of the following words: What, Who, When, Where, How, Why, Will, Might, Should, Is/Are, Do/Does, If. Choose the two best for your Title List.

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Active Verbs / Passive Verbs


Why are active statements better than passive statements? Active means energetic or lively, whereas passive means inactive or submissive. Still confused? Mr. Strunk and Mr. White, two style gurus, claim that


Passive: (egg=subject)

The egg WAS laid by the chicken.

(note: the object completes the action)


Active: (chicken=subject)

The chicken LAID the egg.

(note: the subject completes the action)



PASSIVE       The ball was caught by the catcher.     

ACTIVE         The catcher caught the ball.


PASSIVE       The name was called by the teacher.

ACTIVE         The teacher called the name.


PASSIVE       The bird was caught by the cat.

ACTIVE         The cat caught the bird.


  1. Helga was gored by the bull, El Guapo.

The bull, El Guapo, gored Helga.

  1. The plan was developed for use by the many students.

School Board officials developed the plan with students in mind. 

  1. The yard is covered in snow.

The snow covered the yard, smoothing out across the lawn like a blanket.

  1. The door was closed by Judy.

Judy closed the door.

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Weak versus Strong Verbs


Never use a weak verb in place of a strong verb. Below are all the possible variations of the verb “to be”.












































Linda’s on her way.







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Sentence Style Revision Exercises


Style Exercise #1—Labyrinthine Sentence

Def. a long, long, long, twisty, turny sentence

WHY? It creates a frantic, almost breathless message.


Style Exercise #2—One-Word Sentences

Def. One. Sentence. One. Word. (This put

WHY? This puts emphasis on one word you don’t want the reader to miss.


Style Exercise #3— Anadiplosis

Def. Using the last word of one sentence to start the next sentence. It’s called gradatio when it is performed several times in a row. (eg. A….B.   B….C.   C….D.)

WHY? This operates like a wave, carrying your reader from one sentence to the next poetically.


Style Exercise #4—Anaphora

Starting a group of sentences with the same word.

Why? To create some type of repetition.

Example: “To die, to sleep. To dream, to suffer” from Hamlet.


Style Exercise #5—Epistrophe

Def. Ending a group of sentences with the same word.


Style Exercise #6—Symploce

Def. Using the first word of one sentence to start the next sentence, AND using the last word of the same sentence to end the next one.  (eg. A….B. A…..B. A….B.)

Why? This may by used to hammer something home. It’s repetitive on a structural level.


Style Exercise #7—Emphatic word at the end

Def. Ending your sentences with a solid, juicy, exciting, powerful word.

Why? This tantalizes your reader to read the next sentence.


Style Exercise #8—Parallelism

Def. May be used for similar sentence structure (noun verb. Noun verb. Noun verb.) or on a content level (eg. She was bad, he was ill, and they were driving me nuts.)


Style Exercise #9—Exploding a moment

Taking on sentence and turning it into a paragraph or an essay.

WHY? To get more detail. To put the reader there.


Style Exercise #10—Alliteration

Def. The repetition of the initial consonant in two or more words.

Why? It’s repetitive and the reader “hears” it in their ear. You do this with something you especially want the reader to remember.

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