Reverse Writing

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”
John Muir

One of the many joys of penning this KWD blog is the comments and “likes” that I receive, so please, keep them coming! Often, I’ll visit the site of someone who enjoyed in a post, which leads me to other sites, which is how I found fellow lit enthusiast, Shawn (check out
her great Shawn is a writer, entrepreneur, book lover, and former English teacher.

In a post called, “A Novel Approach: Writing Literary Fiction in Reverse,”Shawn recalls that when she finally sat down to write a novel she’d been thinking about for a while, she started as many of us do, by jotting down her thoughts and ideas. While this was helpful, after months of dedicated scrivening, she did not really have a story with a narrative drive, just a collection of notes. Looking for advice from writing bloggers, she found a very helpful strategy: reverse writing. As Shawn aptly describes this approach: you “build
the skeleton–complete with all major plot points and character descriptions– and then go back, slowly and painstakingly covering the bones with flesh.”

Here’s how she describes the results she garnered using this tool:

“After several brainstorming sessions and discarded attempts, my vision became a little more clear and I began to fill a basic, college-ruled, 1-subject paper notebook with specific and general ideas, which slowly evolved into a storyboard and then into a written outline. After a week or two at this phase, I graduated to the Macbook and typed my outline, 39 chapters, with multi-paragraph breakdowns…”

Equipped with this road map, Shawn is well on her way to completing her first, “Literary Southern Gothic” novel and credits this approach with helping her focus and keep going. She’s got plenty of company. John Grisham, for example, outlines every novel before
launching into the actual writing (see my post, “Story Sketching”).

Having written my way into my children’s novel and floundered quite a bit, I’m thinking of using this technique for the next story in my series. As a “pantser” rather than a “plotter,” I find it daunting, but I’m willing to give it a go. I’d love to know if any of you have tried it and found it helpful. For more inspiration, check out Shawn’s site.

Bravo, Shawn — write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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1 Response to Reverse Writing

  1. Jacqueline Stearns says:

    “We must not look at Goblin men, We must not buy their fruits, Who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry thirsty roots? ” Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

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