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Reverse Outlining. Sounds like an exciting practice, right? Well, the exciting parts come with a greater understanding of a finished work as a whole.  I recently performed a reverse outline on my second novel, BLOOD PHOENIX: CLAIMED, and was reminded that my overall arc for my story and character development worked.

This process is rather simple but time consuming. I went through and summarized each chapter, hitting each plot point as I would for a synopsis. For example:

Chapter One – Personality differences, catch up, touching issues between the two. Dress. Vision of Logan.

Short, simple, and sweet. Much of my notes only make sense to me, rather like a shorthand for my world.

What I did next was to cut the synopsis into pieces and put them up on my board. (I used the white board my husband set up on my easel.) I pinned them in place with magnets and arranged them part from memory and part from what made sense. I had to move a few to strengthen the plot.

And finally, I stared at it and stared at it and stared at it, taking notes as revisions came to me. This is what the final product looked like:

Image

I even marked specific satirical remarks on pop culture that I wanted to include in black, and the accumulating scars on my poor main character, Ria, in blue. You can see at the bottom that I have notes for book three in the bottom corner. (And another side note of “Debbeimage” from my husband misreading my handwriting and wanting me to use this word.)

It’s a great way to re-acclimate with a novel, create the bare bones of a synopsis, and to organize revision.

Now, all I have to do is get my hands dirty and implement all those wondrously pesky notes I made. I can’t wait.  Wish me luck!

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