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
- 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
- Where can you get the best coffee in Seattle and what is so good about it?
- If you were only allowed to use one punctuation mark ever again which would it be and why?
- What are the things you would do if you woke up one morning as a cat?
- Would you prefer to have a plant or animal in your house and why?
- If you could be a cartoon character, which character would you be and why?
- Set your timer for 20 minutes
- 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)
- 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/
- Now read through your essay, and on a separate sheet of paper, jot down the main idea of each paragraph or section
- 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
- Highlight every sentence that you felt proud of, that sounded good to you or that sounded like your voice
- Now that you’ve had fun organizing your goofy essay– check out these resources to help with academic writing: