Writing Cheats #2 -The backwards outline

You have the end in mind after cheat #1. Found at: http://writerssecrets.com/writing-cheats-1-see-the-end-before-the-beginning/

You know how to create a traditional outline. Now I want you to try something that isn’t as traditional– create a backwards outline.

Outlines usually consist of major talking points and sub points. That’s a great method and works very well for a lot of people. But outlines sometimes become too focused on “me, me, me” the author, instead of on the readers.

Great writers are supposed to pay attention to their audience. They are supposed to be able to reach their audience on an emotional level, delivering on the very thing the reader hoped to gain from reading the book, and more.

Too many writers get bogged down on the mechanics of the outline instead of on the expected outcome of the outline. I hope that makes sense. Emotions, feelings, and the power of words get lost in the mechanics of writing and outlining.

Let’s take a different approach. This approach gets the very best writing out of you while also giving the very best to your reader. Best of all, this method will help you write more quickly and become more excited about your writing.

This exercise is all about emotions and feelings. Go ahead and get a general idea of what each chapter will be about. For fiction, which scenes will each chapter contain? For non-fiction, what information will be in each chapter? This should be a very rough, quick outline with few details-there is plenty of time to fill that out later.

Now that you have your list of chapters and a general idea of what they will contain, it’s time to think about the result of those chapters. When the book is written, what will the reader feel or think after reading chapter one? How about chapter two? Chapter 3? Go through each chapter in turn and use this method of backwards outlining. It’s “backwards” because you’re thinking about desired results and feelings instead of facts, figures, and structure.

Here is a fiction example:

Chapter One

General idea: Princess hates her posh life and wants to escape from the castle.

Reader should feel: Skeptical about this spoiled girl, yet intrigued at the same time because they see a little of themselves in her desire for something more.

Do you see how easy it will now be to fill out the rest of the outline for chapter one? You’ve started with your desired result, which got your brain working with possibilities. Now will take just a few minutes to sketch the details for chapter one. You may have just stared at your outline, baffled, for hours before this trick.

Here is a non-fiction example:

General idea: Writing great books for Kindle is actually easier than most people think.

Reader should feel: Like I understand them. They should feel hope and excitement about learning new methods to write faster and better. Possibly skeptical and unsure, but anxious and excited to move past the first chapter.

Did I capture some of what you felt as you read the first chapter? I hope so– it helped me figure out what to write and which emotional hot points to hit on. It then became very easy to write the introduction.

Do this with each chapter you’re going to write and the book will practically write itself… Partially because you’ve hyper focused on the reader. Everything comes into focus when you do that. It’s so much easier to write and to feel excited about your writing when you do this. No more writer’s block and no more hesitation to sit down and write– I dare say, this method makes it fun to write.

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