Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Revising Backwards

Among other things, I am in the middle of a novel revision.

This process seems endless, and I often lose my enthusiasm. But the other day, when I was ready to go shop on etsy instead, something wonderful happened. My mind flashed to my cello lesson.

Sometimes when I am struggling with a piece, my teacher Laura will take me through it backwards. We work through each trouble spot from the end to beginning, and then I play the piece start-to-finish, incorporating the corrections. It's an amazingly simple technique that somehow opens the brain (and the fingers!). Other musicians claim it makes learning a piece faster and practice sessions more efficient.

So I decided to try it with my writing. And you know? I saw things I hadn't seen before. I made connections. The narrative arc became more clear to me, and I realized one of the main problems with the plot was that my main character would NOT do what I was having her do. No way was that going to fly.

Sure, I probably would have figured this out eventually. But I truly believe it was this backwards approach that got me out of myself and more into my heroine and her story.

So, writers: next time you're struggling, try going backwards!

Also, turns out you can stimulate your fitness IQ, by walking backwards. Who knew?


  1. I like hearing that your music lessons helped in your writing, Irene. It sounds like something good to try! Happy writing!

  2. Great advice! You need a fresh pair of eyes whatever way you can get it.

  3. You know, my fiddle teacher has done the same thing! I'm going to try this with my novel revision. I did make a chapter chart, but that is chronological. What did help was printing out a blank calendar for the 1959 month I'm working in and filling it in backwards. That helped me see that I had to move up a scene. Backwards we go!


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