How is that we can put a story down on the page with relative ease but figuring out where that draft works and where it drags is so difficult? Is it possible to stand back from our own work and look at it objectively? Reverse outlining—outlining a completed draft—can give us a Gulliver among the Lilliputians ability to be bigger than our novels, to see their smallest details and understand how best to manipulate the way the story is told, for the reader’s benefit. Yes, outlining a completed draft can teach you to edit yourself. It can make you a better, clearer, and more independent writer.
Susan Scarf Merrell is the author of Shirley: A Novel, now a major motion picture starring Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg. She is also the author of A Member of the Family, and The Accidental Bond: How Sibling Connections Influence Adult Relationships. She co-directs the Southampton Writers Conference, is program director (along with Meg Wolitzer) of the novel incubator program, BookEnds, and teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literature at Stony Brook Southampton.
Susan will accept 5 ms no line editing, sole purpose to identify core question
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