Featured Post

Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reverse Outline

A post by Tanya on a technique I had never heard of before, the "reverse outline" or "after the fact outline." I am likely to use to use, it, or a variation on it, when i finish this current book manuscript. The idea is to take a large project and construct an outline of it after the fact, looking at each paragraph and its central claim, then using that as a tool to reorganize and streamline.

8 comments:

Tanya Golash-Boza said...

When you do use it, let me know how it works out for you.

I think my short book manuscript is a lot better now that I did this and plan to use it again as well.

I hope you are holding up well in this heat!

Andrew Shields said...

I did that in the margins of my last draft of my dissertation, explaining to myself what each paragraph was for. Some disappeared, some split in two, some traded places.

Dracogeno said...

I tend to do that for re-drafting my texts and for deep reading long documents that need special attention.
It shows perfectly the internal structure of a text and makes explicit flaws of logic and gaps in the argument.

Thomas said...

I also recommend this approach. Like Tanya, I read about it Tara Gray's book, but even before that I remember Walter Friedman at the Business History Review saying he uses this method after a manuscript has been accepted for publication.

It also served me well last week when I was drafting my paper.

Contingent Cassandra said...

I learned this one from my father (who earned his humanities Ph.D. in the '50s, then went on to often writing-intensive government work). I'm not sure where he learned it, but it works, and I've passed it on to students (and occasionally used it as a technique to comment on student papers as well -- usually not a whole outline in that case, but as a means of trying to work out what's going on in terms of structure in a particular section of a paper, or the body as a whole, especially with a student who seems to be on to something, but is having trouble articulating it in the thesis and/or organizing the paper).

Clarissa said...

Jonathan or anybody else who knows: what should be the length of a publishable academic book in words? I've been searching for this information but I can't find it.

Jonathan said...

40 to 100 thousand words for most books.

Clarissa said...

Thank you!