Excercise #3 – The Reverse Outline

The exercise:  Create a reverse outline from a free-write exercise

The purpose: To become more confident with writing in general and organizing drafts in particular

The steps:

  1. Pick a topic below (or from a previous exercise) or come up with your own. Try to come up with three or four examples or discussion points for the prompt you select
    1. Where can you get the best coffee in Seattle and what is so good about it?
    2. If you were only allowed to use one punctuation mark ever again which would it be and why?
    3. What are the things you would do if you woke up one morning as a cat?
    4. Would you prefer to have a plant or animal in your house and why?
    5. If you could be a cartoon character, which character would you be and why?
  2. Set your timer for 20 minutes
  3. As soon as the timer begins, write continuously. It’s very important to get as much as you can down on paper (or the computer)
  4. After the 20 minutes is up take a look at this resource. It is a very short video that does an excellent job of explaining reverse outlining: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/reverse-outline/
  5. Now read through your essay, and on a separate sheet of paper, jot down the main idea of each paragraph or section
  6. Put all of the related material together so that each paragraph focuses on one idea. Reorganize, cut and paste so that your material follows a logical progression of ideas
  7. Highlight every sentence that you felt proud of, that sounded good to you or that sounded like your voice
  8. Now that you’ve had fun organizing your goofy essay– check out these resources to help with academic writing:




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