Reverse Outlining

In many traditional composition classes, you make an outline before you write anything. It is something like a plan for you to fill in.

There is nothing wrong with that approach, but the reverse outline is completely different, both in its purpose and in its form.

A diagnostic tool

The idea here is to begin with a rough draft which is approaching its final form and try to figure out how it is working: balance, sequence, and so forth. You will need a fairly complete rough draft to do this—a scribbled note or two won't help you. You will read quickly through your draft and attempt to figure out what each piece is doing; then, you will ask questions about whether the pieces are in the right places and whether they are the right size. (Of course there are two more questions: Are there any missing pieces? Did you put things in which do not belong?)

Here are the rules:

What you will need