outline in reverse
What is a Reverse Outline? A reverse outline is…wait for it…an outline in reverse. You’ve already written a full draft of your HCP. Now, go back over that draft, and write down the main argument of your overall essay (i.e., the specific, arguable thesis from your introduction) followed by the sub-claims of each paragraph (hopefully stated clearly in the topic sentence). You’ll probably also want to include the main evidence that you use in each paragraph, possibly also listing the sources.
What you should end up with is a clear map of the argument you’re making in your HCP. Ideally, this will let you see how all the sub-claims in your different paragraphs work together to back up your overall argument. If, however, you find that some paragraphs don’t really relate to your overall argument; or if you see that some paragraphs don’t stay on topic but rather wander off and deal with multiple things unrelated to the topic sentence; well, then, go back and rewrite these paragraphs, or rewrite your thesis! This Reverse Outline is an assignment that should help you produce a better, tighter overall draft.