Archive for the ‘Language Arts’ Category

Revision: Creating a New Lens

Revision: Creating a new lens

When we use “wacky revision” tactics, we sometimes stumble upon a truth that was hidden from view in the usual order of things. One of the pieces below, written by Sofia, is a great example! Her original freewrite was about how to perform on stage. We’ve all read articles and paragraphs that teach us a set of principles to put into practice. Even when they are clear and well articulated, we may still glaze over due to information overload.

In this case, Sofia applied the wacky revision tactic of turning everything around into a lie. Unwittingly, she stumbled upon irony and humor! By framing the notion of how to perform on stage through the lens of lies, she set up a paragraph that mocks performance! Because of that mockery, the reader is thrust into complexity—turning the writing around to a positive in the imagination. Humor holds our attention, and the principles become apparent through negation. We see this online all the time. Some of the best articles about politics, for instance, make fun of politics. We remember them for their denying power and the humor they evoke.

Wacky revision tactics are not just about play. They are about generating insight, too. Stay alert for those brilliant moments that pop through the writing when it is conceived through a new lens.



Hi Julie!

Here is the writing from the writing workshop. The first piece is from my son, Judah (age 9). He had followed the freewrite prompt you suggested encouraging them to tell about an ordinary event, and he chose his morning routine:

I wake up in the morning and at 7:00 I get out of bed and go to my living room. I say hello to my dad and he makes breakfast and I eat it all up. After I do that I go and get dressed. Then I go and comb my hair and brush my teeth. After I do that I play Legos until mom says it’s time for school.

Here it is after the Scramble [revision technique]:

I wake up in the morning and at 7:00 I get out of bed and go to my living room to brush my teeth. After I do that I play Legos until mom says it’s time for me to go to my room. I say hello to my dad and he makes breakfast and I eat it all up. Time for school. After I do that I go and get dressed. Then I go and comb my hair.

He added words and punctuation here and there, like you suggested, to make the transition from line to line sound intentional. And now that I am thinking about it, he found that process really amusing. ?

The next piece is by my daughter, Sofia (age 7). It is a previous freewrite she wrote after she was in a play. I had asked her what advice she would give to a new actor and this was her response:

If you are new to the stage, you need to do your best. Smile big. You might not get the part you want, so be ready to do whatever the director tells you to do. Use your imagination. Acting on stage is tiring so get good rest before your show. You might fall down or go on the wrong side of the stage or forget a line, but just go on and keep acting no matter what. Skip to the next line that you know. Even if you don’t get the part you wanted, acting is really fun. I didn’t get the part I wanted and it was really fun for me!

She was really amused by your revision technique about “lying,” so we went over the piece doing just that:

If you are new to the stage, don’t give it your all. Do not smile, but just relax your face. You are going to get the part you want anyway. Don’t listen to the director, but do whatever you want. Do not use your imagination, but instead act mad. Acting on stage is no big deal, so you don’t need to get good rest before your show. Nothing will ever go wrong, but if it does, start crying and quit the play. Even when you get the part you want, acting is not fun! I got the part I wanted and it was boring!

We had a fun conversation about why someone might give this bad advice to a new actor and decided that it might be given to an actor who is auditioning for the same role as the advice-giver! That could be an interesting story to write in the future, and one she would not have thought of otherwise, so we were able to see the benefit of that revision tactic.

Lastly, I really like the concept that revision is “re-vision”….seeing again the piece of writing and giving it a new spin. I hadn’t thought much about editing being separate from revision, so I appreciated the clarification.

Thank you again for the writing workshop!!


Free Writing Workshop: Wacky Revision

FREE Wacky Revision Tactics Workshop!

FREE Wacky Revision Workshop Replay

If you didn’t catch the live workshop you can still participate!
(Scroll down for more info)

Whew! What a great Writing Workshop! We had 673 phones and computers tuned in, and we easily had over 1000 kids and parents participating. A great time was had by all!

I focused on the cranky process of revision. I introduced two revision styles:

  • Wacky Revision Tactics
  • Serious Revision Tactics

Kids clipped and glued and revised on the spot and then had lots of inspiration for new strategies to try once the workshop ended. The flood of positive feedback following the workshop is still coming!

We’re looking forward to holding other free workshops. For now, you can watch the replay (below) and get just as much benefit!

Check out some of the photos and comments from the workshop:

Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

The girls are excited to be a part of Julie’s revision scope!! ~Jennifer

Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

Loving the scope! ~Jodi

Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

What my kitchen table now looks like.

Thanks Julie Sweeney. My son took that boring little list he wrote, and is now imagining George Washington playing Minecraft in his underwear, but that was just his dream before he woke up. My daughter is telling a story about walking her cat to a sweet shop. And my 8 year old is imagining his dog cooking him breakfast. I’d say they had fun. I’m going to have to watch replay and take notes.


Writing Workshop Wednesday: Revision

Julie, I watched your workshop with my homeschooling girls and we all enjoyed it. They each had two pieces of writing that they worked on one as the wacky Scramble for the free write and then took Thanksgiving papers and one chose the Lie option (6th grader) and the other chose to add dialog and add a couple of elements they had left out (8th grader).

Thanks for doing these periscopes and this workshop! I don’t have a phone to follow you on so we can’t comment but we do enjoy watching the scopes in real time (or on Katch when we miss) and feel a part of things.

My daughter, Ivy, was verbally responding to you a ton and wished she could type in comments or give you hearts. She also liked reading some of the other responses. My journal is filling up with notes from your talks!


Missed the live workshop? No problem!

GRAB your FREE Revision Guide HERE.

Do the prep work then watch the scope with your kids!

For a full four week course, check out our Groovy Grammar Workshop!
Groovy Grammar Workshop

Writing Workshop Wednesday is TOMORROW!

Writing Workshop Wednesday

Periscope is off the chains! We have 2000 followers already.

As a thank you for all that love, I’m giving a FREE Writing Workshop for your kids. We’ll tackle the tricky processes of revision. I promise to stand the whole notion of revision on its head so that it stops being a cranky process and turns into play.

You’ll need writing (by your kids) already written to revise so I’ve prepared a FREE guide for you to use with your kids. The preparatory writing will take about 5-10 minutes. Promise! Then you will type it up in a special way and you’ll all be ready to rock ‘n roll.

Tell your friends! This workshop is a great introduction to how Brave Writer sees writing and teaches it!

Download the Guide
so your kids can prepare!

The LIVE Writing Workshop is via
Periscope on Wednesday December 2, at 4:00 PM EST.

Real Life Grammar Instruction

Real Life Grammar

Grab your free digital file here for the 5 tips to help you transform how you approach grammar in your family. There is absolutely no charge! You will be added to our email list so that you will be kept abreast of Brave Writer’s materials and classes. Thanks!

FREE: 5 Tips for Real Grammar Instruction

My favorite Grammar Program!
Winston Grammar


Top image by Brave Writer mom Danielle (text added)

Revision is Not Editing

Revision is Not Editing

In Brave Writer, we separate the ideas of revision and editing. Revision is “casting new vision” for the original piece of writing. It’s a “re-imagining” of the original content. You have what you want to say, now you are considering all the various ways it can be said.

Your freewrite/draft is the jet stream of thought. It’s all of it rushing out of the writer onto the page willy-nilly.

Revision is not, now, taking that freewrite/draft and fixing commas or identifying run-on sentences. It’s not addressing tone or spelling mistakes. Those practices fall under the category of “copy-editing.”

Revision is that drastic over-haul type work that literally changes the draft sometimes so completely, the original is hardly recognizable in it any more (except maybe some sentences or the germ of the idea). Revision is where you hunker down and look at specific thoughts expressed insufficiently in the draft, and then determine how to expand them, how to enhance them, how to deepen the content or insight or facts-basis.

Revision IS writing.

In fact, most writers would say that revision is the craft, is the heart of being a writer.

What I find in parents (and even in those who claim to be writing instructors) is a tendency to skip this part of the process. They move right to editing and call it revision.

When asked to give revision notes or support, they draw a blank or they praise what’s good or they give general comments like, “Be sure you think about your audience” or “It’s a good idea to make sure your points are in a solid sequence.”

This kind of general feedback isn’t helpful to writers. What helps is to become a child’s creative partner. What you want to do, what you need to learn how to do, is how to create a dynamic partnership of idea generation.

For instance, you might see a flat-footed opening line (note: they are all flat-footed in the first draft – it’s completely rare that the first line stays the same in well revised writing). Your job isn’t to point out that it is flat-footed or could be revised. It isn’t to assign the task of making it better to your child. It’s literally to brainstorm ideas for improvements. Let’s say the child is writing about white water rafting, you might try something like this:

“I wonder how we can make this opening line grab the reader’s attention. Let me think, let me think. What if we start with the experience—Let’s get in the boat. Are you in it? What’s happening now? Close your eyes. What do you see? Blue? What shades?”

You’re jotting things down as they come out of your child’s mouth. Then you say:

“How about the water? I can imagine there’s a spray. Is there? Yes? Where did it hit? What is a water spray like? Does it remind you of anything? Oh good one! The spray of a garden hose when your brother aims it at you. Good one! Yes! Let’s jot that down.”

You’re wool-gathering. You’re collecting

  • images,
  • experiences,
  • thoughts,
  • curiosities,
  • comments,
  • ideas.

You aren’t telling your child what to do. You’re helping your child think freshly about what is already on the page. You are providing the dialog partner the way you would in conversation:

“Then what happened? Oh wait, how did you get there? That must have been amazing! What did your brother say?”

But now, you are focused on writing and you are providing the conversational partnership that your child’s writer needs. You are thinking in writing categories but having discussions about it (natural ones). You aren’t an English teacher. You are an interested friend, partner, ally.

Do you see the difference? Stop the generalizations and get into conversations. Help get those words out.

Then, when you go back to that opening sentence, you have a selection of things to choose from that might grab the reader’s attention. Together, you can find the one and write it in a way that makes magic.

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