Last week, Tara Gray, author of Publish & Flourish: Become a Prolific Scholar, shared insight on scholarly productivity and publishing in a series of articles on our blog. Gray also shared her experience and wisdom in a two-part TAA webinar series in March where she outlined a 10-step approach to drafting and revising scholarly manuscripts – quickly and well.
A recent visitor to the TAA website used the live chat feature and stated, “I would like to know some academic principles we can use for revisions.”
As authors, revisions can be one of the most challenging parts of the writing process. Most writers create easily but find it difficult to critique and edit their own work. Regardless, the revision process is essential for producing polished and effective manuscripts.
At the 2018 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Santa Fe, NM, Dr. Tara Gray presented on her twelve-step program, “Publish & Flourish: Become a Prolific Scholar”. Steps 7 & 8 of the program focus on the revision process by identifying and using key sentences in each paragraph as follows:
Step 7: Revise paragraphs around key sentences
Step 8: Use key sentences as an after-the-fact or reverse outline
In order to complete step 7 and revise paragraphs around key sentences, it’s important to first identify the key sentence in each paragraph. So, what is a key sentence?
The after-the-fact outline provides a valuable strategy to help complete a major book or article revision. Sometimes referred to as a reverse outline, I learned of this strategy from Tara Gray, author of the book Publish and Flourish. I have tried most of the advice in her book, and now that I have tried this piece of advice, I had to ask myself: “Why did I wait so long?”
The first thing to point out is that this strategy is not a writing strategy, but a revising strategy. This strategy works best when you have a draft of your article (or a portion of your article) and are ready to rewrite it. It is best if your draft is rough, as you need to feel comfortable with the idea of deleting and/or rearranging large portions of it.