Posted on behalf on Kariss Stone
There’s nothing like adding those extra layers of pasta, mince and cheese on a lasagne to make it chunkier and more hunger-fulfilling.
Or layering a sandwich with all sorts of salad ingredients to make it tastier.
Or going to the hairdressers to get your hair layered, to give it more bounce around your face.
Or layering on a collage artwork by sticking all sorts of different materials over the coat of paint.
And the list can go on.
Now I’m no cook or hairdresser or artist, and unfortunately I can’t afford to eat Subway every day, so what am I getting at here?
Okay, so as we are all writers and readers, if you haven’t guessed it, the layering I’m talking about is layering of your novel, from first draft to published draft. Layering to add more to the story. Bringing in emotion in the areas of your story that require it, setting the scene, engaging your readers.
Now every writer approaches a story they write from scratch very differently. If you’re like me, the very first draft is just whatever comes into your head and it can read pretty woefully. But then you do a second draft, third draft etc until you hopefully have a story that only needs minor touch ups or edits from a publisher.
I find layering of a novel quite interesting, and thought I’d use something out of my current WIP to illustrate my point. So first you lay down the slab of your story (in my case a very bad slab!)
He brings the cocktails over to the lounge area and hands her the strawberry Daiquiri, before sitting next to her. He turns her way and looks at her like so many other times he’s looked at her, when they’d been together, that he likes her, likes her company. The attraction is still there.
He brings the cocktails over to the lounge area and hands her the strawberry Daiquiri, his fingers brushing hers, Turning her way, he looks at her with desire in his eyes, reminding her of those other times he’s looked at her like that, when they’d been together. The attraction is still there.
- Adding ‘his fingers brushing hers’ which uses the sense of touch
- ‘He turns her way and looks at her’ to ‘Turning her way, he looks at her’
- Adding ‘with desire in his eyes, reminding her of…’ Now we’re starting to add in a layer of emotion. We know how he feels about her.
- Changing ‘like so many other times he’s looked at her, when they’d been together, that he liked her, likes her company’
‘reminding her of those other times he’s looked at her like that, when they’d been together. The attraction is still there.
Which cuts down on some unnecessary words, but of course there’s still work to be done on this particular sentence.
- Deleting ‘he likes her’, to cut down on the ‘telling’ aspect, and because it’s not necessary. The reader knows he’s attracted to her because of the last sentence.
With a satisfied look on his face like he’s pleased she acquiesced to having cocktails at midday, he brings the cocktails over to the lounge area and hands her the strawberry Daiquiri. His fingers brush over hers as he does, the sudden touch of warmth on her cool hands is very welcoming. Then he sits next to her and turns her way. There’s desire in his eyes. Desire, still, for her.
- Adding ‘with a satisfied look on his face like he’s pleased she acquiesced to having cocktails at midday’ which once again brings in a layering of emotion, and we also know what time of the day it is.
- Adding ‘the sudden touch of warmth on her cool hands is very welcoming’ so it becomes more than just fingers brushing, we know his fingers are warm, and her hands are cold and she likes him touching her. Brings the reader more into the scene.
- Rewriting the last couple of sentences to improve the pace, shows his desire, rather than just telling the reader he desires her.
And so it goes on – where in future drafts you can bring in a bit more of the setting, add more physical reactions and/or internal thoughts, and/or more emotion, and make other changes if necessary, until you get the final draft.
With a satisfied look on his face, as if pleased she acquiesced to having cocktails at midday, he brings the glasses over to the lounge area. Okay, you got me with the cocktails mate. I just hope that lasagne won’t take too long to cook. I shouldn’t be drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.
When he hands her the Strawberry Daiquiri as he sits down, his fingers deliberately brush over hers and his eyes pin her in place. Well, the intensity in his dark gaze, and the sudden touch of his warm fingers on her cool hands causes her breath to catch in her throat. The action is so unexpected, yet so thrilling. Turning her way, his lips are curved in that sexy, knowing smile she loves, his eyes sparking desire the way they always have. Desire for her. Even after all this time.
© Kariss Stone
You know I think that’s one of the most satisfying things about writing, getting to the finished product, seeing how your story has developed through layering and other writing techniques.
Now I’d better get back to that several-layered lasagne my beautiful partner has made, oh, and then I’d better go and start practicing what I preach! J