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Essay Writing

Using CPA in Revision For Essay Writing

CPA is a phenomenal revision tool. CPA is a terrific pre-writing strategy because it helps you define your entire piece. But it also works well as a revision strategy, too. If youve finished a first draft and youre not sure what you need to do to make your piece better, CPA can help. Even if you didnt do a CPA chart during pre-writing, you can do one at the revision stage. Read over your piece and try to fill in the six boxes as you go. Youll probably find that one or two boxes are empty or not completely filled out. This tells you what you need to do for revision. The В«holesВ» in the chart show you the В«holesВ» in your writing.

Even if you can fill up the chart completely, you may find that some of what youve written isnt accounted for. This is an indication that you might not need certain parts of your piece in order for it to be successful. If this is the case, those parts can be cut. Your piece will be shorter and yet still be complete. Its always good to take out material that doesnt absolutely have to be there.

Your audience will appreciate not having to read so much in order to understand what you have to say. The single best revision you can make. A teacher once asked me, В«Whats the best quick fix for a piece of writing?В» I thought about it for a while and then it hit me: В«Revise the main idea.В» The main idea is the one most important thing you want your readers to know. If its not exactly what you want, your entire piece wont be exactly what you want. Your main idea also determines everything else you decide to include in your piece.

So, revising your main idea can affect many things in significant ways. Heres a step-by-step approach to revising your main idea:

  • (1) Read through your piece and see if you know what your main idea is. Do you have one? Is it what you want? (2) Decide whether or not you need to change it or come up with one to begin with. Maybe you dont like the one you have, or possibly you dont have one at all.
  • (3) Finalize your new main idea and write it in the В«Main IdeaВ» box in your CPA chart.
  • (4) Now and this is the important part go through your piece and make sure that everything you have written supports your main idea or is related to something that does.

If you find a part that isnt related, think about deleting it. (Dont worry, you can always save it for another piece at another time.) Pick your best details. Once you get clear on your main idea, think carefully about the key details you want to include. Most of your piece will be devoted to explaining your key details. These are the parts that your readers will be most interested in. They must also serve to illustrate your main idea in clear and effective ways. By now, you know so many ways to add details to your writing that you can probably come up with many of them.

So the question is В«Which details do I use?В» One type of detail that is always worth considering is an В«anecdote.В» An anecdote is a little story within your story that serves as an example of a larger point (like your main idea, for example). In my story about fishing with my dad, Im including an anecdote about one particular time when we caught a lot of fish together. Im using this story as an example to illustrate my main idea: В«The times in my life as a kid when I felt closest to my dad were the times when we would go fishing together.В» Anecdotes are effective because everyone loves a good story. The trick is to tell them efficiently. They cant be very long or theyll take over the whole piece.