Hate outlining? Many writers do. And they write less than they could because of that. I’ve just released Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy in ebook form. It will be available as a paperback too shortly.
Here’s an excerpt on reverse outlining you may find useful.
Reverse outlining: an easy way to improve your writing
If you hate outlining and just want to WRITE, I get it. I feel the same way. When I’m inspired, I just want to write — it’s imperative. Occasionally I give in to that impulse because I can’t help myself. Then, reverse outlining the material that I’ve written helps me to discover what I meant to say.
Here’s an example. You want to write an “About” page for your website. What should you include? Should you make the page chatty, and informal, or would it be more appropriate to use formal language?
It impossible to write an outline when you have no idea what you want to say. At times like this, just start writing. When you’ve finished, create a reverse outline.
Reverse outlining is your friend. It helps you to tame a mass of words and make sense of them when you have no idea what you want to say.
Reverse outlining: what it is, how it helps
When very thought of creating an outline leads you to procrastination, here’s an easy way to improve your writing, without outlining.
Outline later. Write your piece — anything from an article to a book, and outline it later.
Reverse outlining is useful for:
- Ensuring that you covered everything you needed to cover in the piece of writing;
- Delivering an outline to someone (like a literary agent or publisher) who demands an outline.
Reverse outlining in short pieces is done paragraph by paragraph.
In longer pieces like novels, and nonfiction books, a reverse outline is created by summarizing (in a sentence or two) longer sections of texts, like scenes in your novel, or chapters and sections in a nonfiction book.
How to use reverse outlining to create new material
I journal each day. I’m by no means a diarist, but I journal for 20 minutes a day, because it makes me more productive. Occasionally I’ll keep on journaling because I’ve hit on something which I’ll be able to use. I just keep writing, either by hand in my day book, or on the computer.
After writing non-stop for an hour or so, I’ll end up with a lot of material.
I reverse outline the material, usually on the following day, to assess what I have. Sometimes the material fits into a current project, or is the seed of an idea for a new project. At times, it may be just an insight into a project. For example, it might be a long character sketch for a character in a novel.
Read the preview of Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy.
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