For this revision assignment, choose a piece (paragraph of scene) from your body of work that you feel is not working. With that text before you, write its exact opposite. For example, if I began a paragraph with “December, and the first snow is stained with dog piss and Michelin sludge' the revision might become “It was July and the pristine white sand beach glistens in an explosion of precious gems,' and so forth. Once you’ve created the inverse of your original piece, see if a useful hybrid can be made, blending the original with its inverse to create a new piece.
The example above works with images, but if you are writing plot-based fictions, you may want to work a story toward the opposite conclusion: girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl and boy buy a condo on Michigan Ave. might become girl meets boy, girl like boy, boy likes to cheat, girl tortures herself by staying with cheater, girl kills boy by pushing him over the upper deck railing at sporting event. A hybrid might be girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl and boy move in together, boy dies tragically falling to his death while trying to catch their ferret, Chumly, who was about to swan dive off the balcony of their high-rise Michigan Ave. condo.
Another variation on this assignment is to not look at the original text but to write its inverse from memory.
Rationale: Most revision work we do in creative writing occurs with texts that we are not satisfied with, for whatever reason. All the invention work we did during the early part of the semester gives us a great body of different texts, and our journals and blogs can be a great source to mine when we are unable to invent or generate new material or when its time to revise and put a project together. I find also that the things we want to write about most come up over and over again in my writing, whether I consciously strive to write about them or they unconsciously invade my writing, so using old texts as sources often leads me to discover or better understand the work I want to write about.
This revision assignment can also break us of the habit of trying to stay true to real events in our fictive creations. When I was beginning to write, it mattered to me a great deal to be able to “get things right' as they occurred in real life or in my memory of it. Assignments like this can help us to learn that the truth of real life does not necessarily make better creative writing, and that by straying from reality, we can encounter the (capital T) Truth of knowledge, language or emotion, among other things.
Be sure to also comment on a classmate's post for full credit.