THE POSTWRITING STAGE FINISHING
In postwriting, the last stage in the process, you craft the document into a product that effectively guides your reader through the topic: This stage consists of two types of activities editing and producing the document .
Editing means to develop a consistent, accurate text. In this sro: ) ou change the document until it is right. You check spelling, punctuation, basic grammar, format of the page, and accuracy of facts. You make the text agree with various rules of presentation. When you edit, ask yourself Is this correct? Is this consistent?” To help you edit, construct checklists in which you list all the possible problems that you will check for. Then read your document for all the instances of one problem. For instance, first read for apostrophes, then for heading consistency, then for spelling errors, then for consistency in the format, and so forth.The following paragraphs demonstrate the types of decisions that you make when you edit.
A Note on Revising with a Computer Most word-processing companies now offer various revising aids that can facilitate your editing process. Several common aids are dictionaries, grammar checkers, and thesauruses. Dictionaries, also called spell checkers, and their closely related cousins, grammar checkers, can help you find possible problems in your writing.
A spell checker will read your document and indicate any words that are not in its dictionary. If you have made a typo, such as typing with the checker will highlight the word and allow you to retype it. Some checkers even suggest several alternate spellings. A problem with these programs is that if your typo happens to be another word – such as “fist” for “first” the program will not indicate the problem. While these devices find typos easily the do not help with misuses of words. So if you type
“to” instead of “too,” the program will not indicate an error. Grammar checkers seldom actually check grammar, such as problems in subject-verb agreement. They do, however, highlight features of your writing that you should check. For instance, the checker will highlight all the forms of”~ be” in your paper, thus pointing out all the possible places that you might have used the passive voice. A good grammar checker points out sexist and racist language, overused phrases, and easily confused words. Although the checker will highlight every “your” and “you’re” in your paper, you will have to decide if you have used the correct form. A thesaurus is a collection of groups of words that have the same meaning. Like the book-version thesaurus, a computer thesaurus will suggest other words that mean the same as the one you select on your computer. You use a computer thesaurus when you want to find a sharper word than the one you have.
Producing the Document
Producing a document has two dimensions: the physical completion of the document and the psychological completion of it.
Physical Completion Physical completion means typing or printing (if you use a computer) the final document. This dimension takes energy and time. Failure to allow enough time for this stage and its problems will certainly cause frustrations. For instance, many people have discovered the difficulties of this stage when their disk crashed or their printer failed for some reason. Although physical completion is usually a minor factor in brief papers, it is a major factor in longer documents, often taking more time than the drafting stage.
Psychological Completion psychological completion means to attend to your emotions as you near completion and to manage your time properly. Poor writing is often the result of “finishing too soon.” If you prematurely decide that you are finished, you probably will not listen to other readers’ suggestions (or heed your own perceptions that more revising is needed). Often these suggestions are very good, and if you acted on them, you could produce a much better document. If you have finished too soon, however, such suggestions only cause frustration because you don’t want to be bothered with reworking a document you feel you have completed.
Many people enter into projects with a hidden time agenda. They decide at the beginning that they have so many hours or days to devote to a particular project. When that time is up, they must be finished. They do not want to”hear any suggestions for change. A similar problem with time management often occurs in research projects. A researcher, fascinated with the reading, will continue to read “just one more” article or book, thus taking valuable time away from writing the report. When he or she begins to write the report, there is not enough time left to do the topic justice. The result is a bad report. As you grow in your ability to generate good documents, you will also grow in ability to estimate accurately the time that it will take you to finish a writing project. You will also develop a willingness to change the document as much as is necessary to get it right. Developing these two skills is one sure sign that you are maturing as a writer. Below is a checklist. to help you with editing .
CHECKLIST FOR EDITING
- Set up a specific time schedule. Work backward from the due date
- Make a checklist of possible problems. Check your document for each problem.