Writing Reviser: Improving Sentence Variety

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In the spirit that even good work can get better with revision, we continually revise Writing Reviser.

We think you'll be especially excited about a couple of features that help students revise words and expressions in ways that will make their sentences more varied and powerful.

Draw on more words in your toolbox.

We highlight all cases of word recurrence—words appearing more than once in a sentence or in two successive sentences.

One way students can ensure variety in their writing is by paying attention to how often they use the same words in close proximity. Including a word, say, five times in an essay may be fine. However, using that word repeatedly in the span of one or two sentences can make writing seem lazy or uninspired.

Lazy: On sunny days, my cat Percy loves to find a sunny spot in the foyer to relax. If the day isn’t sunny, he’ll just hop on my sofa for his nap.
Better: My cat Percy loves to find a sunny spot in the foyer to relax. If the day is cloudy, he’ll just hop on my sofa for his nap.

Vary the nouns and pronouns you use as subjects.

We identify repeated subjects— noun or pronoun subjects repeated in successive sentences. Because every sentence has at least one noun or pronoun subject, writers sometimes inadvertently (and tediously) use the same word as a subject in successive sentences.

Repetitive: Mimi can speak Spanish and German. When Mimi speaks Spanish, she talks very fast.

Better: Mimi can speak Spanish and German, but she talks faster in Spanish.

Writing Reviser was not built to be a punitive revision tool; it does not search for and highlight mistakes in student essays. Instead, it provides feedback that helps students write with more power and precision.

Keep looking for more additions to Writing Reviser as we continue our own revisions!

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About Author

Terry Hardison

Terry Hardison oversees the development of English language arts resources for Curriculum Pathways. Prior to joining SAS, Terry worked for 21 years as a teacher and as a district-level English language arts supervisor.

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