backReturn to Unit 2: MWF

Backwards Outline Workshop


Read through the writer’s draft once without making any marks. Then re-read it while completing the following steps:


1)  On a separate sheet of paper, write down the main claim of the essay.  Feel free to directly quote from the paper and/or put it in your own words.


2)  Divide the sheet into three columns.


3)  In the left hand column, number and summarize what each paragraph says.  If there is more than one idea in the paragraph, list the ideas as two separate points.


4)  Review the list in the left-hand column and see if similar things show up in different parts of the paper. (e.g. Are both #2 and #8 examples that prove the same point?  Do #4 and #7 bring up the same example?)  If so, suggest some possible reorganizations to the author on the reverse side of your outline (and/or on another sheet of paper).


5)  In the middle-column, write a sentence that summarizes the connection you see between what each paragraph does and the overall claim at the top of the page. If you can’t see a connection, put a question mark in the column. 


(6)  Look back to see if each connection is made obvious in the paper itself.  Under each connection you’ve written, make a note of “obvious” or “not obvious” for the writer.


(7)  In the third column, write down what connection you see between each paragraph (e.g. between paragraph one and paragraph two, between paragraph two and paragraph three, and so on).  If you can’t see a connection, put a question mark in the column. 


(8) For those paragraphs where you could see a connection, go back and examine the paper to see if the author has provided a transition for the reader explaining this connection.  Mark each connection you listed with a note of “transition” or “no transition.” 


(9) Based on your analysis of the organization and coherence of this essay, make suggestions to the writer about how to re-organize (#4 above) and where they need to draw stronger connections (#6 and #8). In your suggestions, be sure to consider whether any lack of clarity in organization, coherence, or evidence may result from the claim itself.  (i.e. is the organization hard to follow because the writer is trying to prove too much?)  Finally, re-examine the paper one more time for evidence and provide suggestions about where more examples and/or proof is needed to support the writer’s analysis. 


(10) Sign your comments and move onto the next draft.