Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rewriting Techniques

Accepting my first writing job online was a daunting task for me because I was required to create original content. Such notion contradicted with my firm belief that no idea is original, merely deviated. Hence, I came up with a number of ways on how to rewrite articles I can find online, rewrite them so that they are almost distinct from each other, and submit them to my employer as original content. I didn’t want to resort to article spinning software as no computer program has mastered the English language so far. Although spinning may speed up the process of rewriting, I wanted to hone my skills in writing by doing it myself.

Here are some rewriting techniques that I frequently use. They are effective means for articles that were copied from other websites to pass checks in article plagiarism software like Copyscape.


The easiest way to rewrite an article is to choose some words and replace them with words of equivalent meaning. That is actually how an article spinning software works at the very basic level. The problem with those software is that they don’t understand the context at hand and hence wrongfully choose synonyms that make the sentence no longer comprehensible.

For example, if I was to rewrite the first sentence of this post without rearranging the placement of words, it can be like this:

Receiving my first composition assignment was an intimidating undertaking for me since I was ordered to compose genuine materials.

Whereas if you were to let an article spinner ‘spin’ the sentence for you, it could be like this:

Accommodating my chief lettering profession online was an unnerving chore for me as I was obliged to produce innovative relaxed.

Obviously, my version is better since I know what the context of the sentence was about. Simply put, when using synonyms, make sure you do not lose the meaning of the sentence when you substitute words with their synonyms.

Active to Passive Voice (and Vice Versa)

I’m not a master of the English language (heck, it is not my native language). But if I have not forgotten my basic English lessons at school, sentences take the form of either the active voice (the subject is the doer of the action) or the passive voice (the subject is the receiver of the action).

For example, the next sentence is in the active voice.

He threw the ball.

Converting it to passive voice makes the sentence look like this:

The ball was thrown by him.

Affirmative to Negative Sentences (and Vice Versa)

To explain it briefly, negative sentences have a “not” or “no” in their sentence and therefore indicate negative response or tone. The absence of any of these two gives sentences a positive tone. An example of rewriting through this technique is shown below.

There are people who like ice cream.

There are no people who don’t like ice cream.

If you think about it, the two sentences still have the same meaning but their structure are unique from each other. Remember to convert sentences without violating the rules of logic, an example of which is shown below.

All people are good.

Not all people are not good.

Assuming that “not all people are not good” does not necessarily mean that the inverse is “all people are good”. Rather it’s inverse should be “some people are good”.

Object to Subject (and Vice Versa)

Similar to the conversion from one voice to another, another rewriting technique is done by making the object in the sentence as the subject or the other way around. For instance,

Lisa gave the chocolate bar to Bart.

The chocolate bar was given by Lisa to Bart.

Quotations to Direct Statements (and Vice Versa)

Sentences which are written in dialogue form (quotations) can be transformed into direct statements.

Sideshow Bob said, “Hello Bart.”

Sideshow Bob said hello to Bart.

Adding Examples

Instead of just rewriting a given sentence, you can elaborate on the idea by giving more examples and further add a number of words to your rewritten composition.

Anecdotes and Experiences

When the required material is not restricted to a formal tone, you can add personal experiences to your writing. Similar to examples, you can elongate your article by relating your own life with what has been previously written.


Repeating a sentence is done to add emphasis to an idea or to remind readers with such. Conclusions in some composition are merely reiteration of previously mentioned ideas but may add something more.

Repetition must not be abused that the same keywords or phrases appears within a few sentences. Search engines do not like keyword stuffing and will likely lower your links’ rankings in search results.


Some plagiarism checking software take note of the arrangement of words. When rewriting, it is recommended to rearrange placement of examples, reasons, and the like. To illustrate the point,

There are apples, mangoes, and oranges in the basket.

There are mangoes, oranges, and apples in the basket.


My last piece of advice for this post is to combine these techniques to further refine your rewritten material. Many of the techniques above cannot stand on their own against a plagiarism check if they are not used hand in hand with.

Do you know more techniques for rewriting? Fire away at the comments below.

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