Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Behind the Books: Colorful Revision

Back in November, Dana Murphy (@DanaMurphy68) wrote this post, called “A Close Look,” on the Two Writing Teachers blog. In it, she discussed a tweet I contributed to a Twitterchat a few days earlier.

This is something I do a lot. In fact, it might be the number one way I use mentor texts. Seeing text in manuscript form really helps me understand how the writer went about crafting it.

In her post, Dana used colors to highlight aspects of the writing she especially liked. I use that technique too. I use it when I’m examining another writer’s language, and I use it during my own revision process. It helps me focus on specific elements of a manuscript.

For example, I might highlight all my verbs in blue. Then I look them over and ask: Are they varied enough? Can any of them be stronger?

I might color comparisons green, and ask myself: Can I come up with examples that are even more relevant to my readers’ lives?

I might make all the examples of alliteration purple. Am I overusing it? I admit. I sometimes do.

Here are a couple of examples:
By using colors to focus my attention on specific parts of a text, patterns—both good and bad—become clearer, and I can revise to make the manuscript as strong as it can possibly be.


  1. I love this idea, Melissa, and will definitely try it out. Thanks for the tips!!

  2. Great, practical tips for students and adults:>)

  3. Love your color coding, Melissa! This just makes it so "clear" about which words/phrases MUST stay and which ones need to be reviewed!