Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Backloading --Tricks of the Trade -- PK Hrezo

Are you familiar with the technique of backloading? Before I took a deep editing course with Margie Lawson, I'd never heard of it, but since I was introduced to it, I try more and more to use it. It's smart, and can have just the right after-effect.

But it's not as easy as you may think.

Backloading is taking the most powerful word in your sentence, paragraph, or scene and placing it at the very end. This packs a punch, and it will propel the reader on to the next sentence ... or if it's the end of your chapter, it'll send your reader on to the next chapter, without them even realizing what's happened.

Cool, right?

Mind you, this isn't something to do with every sentence or paragraph. The art is finding the appropriate time to pack your punch. Often, the end of a chapter is the excellent choice, but let's not limit ourselves. This technique can be used anywhere it will fit, as long as it's not overdone.

How about an example ...

Lucy couldn't breathe. She knew the intruder was in the room, but only because she sensed his presence. He was silent, the carpet absorbing his footsteps, the darkness consuming his silhouette. How close he was, Lucy couldn't tell, but she knew better than to flinch. Concentration on what her next move would be gave her stability, controlled her nerves. If she let it, the situation would have her chest swelling with horror. 

That paragraph is meant to be tense. Very tense. And by backloading it with the word horror, it creates the very feeling of horror in the reader. If this were the end of the chapter, the reader would be left with that same sense of dread as Lucy, and most likely would feel compelled to turn the page.

This technique is best used after your first draft is written and during your edits. Try picking out a few pages of your current work in progress and see if you can't backload a few different places. Is your sentence better? More powerful?

Try it out and see how you like it. I love using this technique. As always, practice makes perfect. :)

How about you? Ever tried backloading before? Is this a new word for you? Please share ...


  1. Yes, I try and do this after reading about it in one of my books on editing. Didn't realize it was called backtracking though. Great tip! thanks PK.

    1. Sure thing! It's such a clever little tool that can make a big difference. :D


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