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Teacher Tips and Answers

Revising Literary Research Papers

After you complete the first draft of your research paper, take a break. Then you'll be able to return to it and see it with fresh eyes. That's what the word revision means—seeing your work anew. When you revise, you check the "big picture," looking at the ideas, organization, and voice of your writing. The following activities will help you.

Revising to Elaborate Details

Your research paper should be more than just a list of details: First of all . . . Second of all . . . Thirdly . . . Fourthly . . . . Instead, you should elaborate ideas. You can do so by introducing a concept, looking more carefully at it, defining the terms you are using, giving examples, telling an anecdote, providing historical context, and so on. Note how each of these types of details further "unpacks" the concept, allowing readers to understand it more fully.

In the following paragraph from "The Mind Behind Middle-earth," note how the topic sentences introduce two main points, and the writer explores each point separately, using a variety of details to unfold the picture for the reader. Click on the callouts to view each part.

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