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Posts tagged ‘reverse outline’

How strong are your scenes? Use this checklist to find out

Have you ever started reading a book and felt like nothing really happened? I saw a TV show recently where several characters set out to “save one character’s wife and baby from the bad guy,” but ended up bumbling around, seemed to give up or forget what they went out for, got sidetracked, and then went back to camp. This went on for awhile. It was boring. And annoying.

It’s not as if nothing happened, but those things had nothing to do with the initial goal of the scene. I wanted to scream at the characters, “Hey, what about the mom and baby?!”

When this happens in a book or TV series, I don’t want to keep reading or watching. I’m probably not the only one.

So how can we avoid this problem of, “nothing happening?” Check out my checklist:

Before diving into the writing, create a rough outline and sense of where the story is headed. Yes, things change, but a general road map can help maintain a sense of direction about what you’re writing and why. Read more

How a reverse outline can make your story stronger

Recently, I decided to turn a minor theme in my memoir into a major one. I knew this would involve another edit of my manuscript, which I was loath to do because I wanted to work on my next book. Plus, it’d been awhile since I read the manuscript so it would take a chunk of time just to immerse myself in the flow of it again.

I decided the quickest, most efficient way to do this would be to create a reverse outline (one that’s created after your manuscript is finished).

I didn’t create an outline when I began the memoir, because I didn’t know what my story would be. I’m sure that sounds strange—to not know what the story of your life is, but we all have multiple stories inside us—who we are and what has shaped us. Writing is an act of discovery and as time went on, I realized I needed to build out one of my themes to reflect the evolution of my story. Read more