It’s not my favorite thing.
I’ve read a number of tips from professional writers that speak highly of the technique and its mastery; some of them writing such detailed outlines that they nearly rival a first draft.
I tend to write a bare bones outline – each act and a variety of incidents I have in mind. I enjoy getting lost in a story and allowing my characters to tell me what’s going to happen next. This may not be to most prudent course of action, especially in a time-crunch sort of situation, but I’m not under those types of constraints and pressures to produce…yet.
On my last screenplay, I chose to try something new – a reverse outline. Well, that’s what I’m calling it.
I don’t know if this is something I learned about along the way (I mean, there are so many things in my head who knows where they’ve all come from at this point), but it made sense to me at the time, and I did find a few holes with this technique, so I thought I’d share.
After my first draft was done, I created an outline based on the written text. I made note of each event, each change of scene, any important detail, and any topic that might need to be addressed further. When I was done, I had an outline that revealed any shortcomings and from there I could fill in those blanks.
From this vantage point I was able to see if events were happening too close together, and if I should incorporate a new scene or two to spread out the action. I found ideas that may have been introduced but lacked follow thru. I discovered conversations between characters that were too long, long winded, or not detailed enough.
It made the rewrite a much smoother process.
Yes, I know. It probably would have made the first draft an easier process as well, but that’s not how I write. A rough draft outline so I know the major beats and where it’s supposed to go is how I work, right now.
Yes, yes, I know I should probably be practicing for the work ahead, but I like to be surprised by the journey.
So what do you think of this trick? How do you prepare to write a draft? Share your tips below!