Guest post by Jayna Morrow
I follow many published authors. In addition to their books, I read their Facebook statuses, Tweets, and blog posts. I visit their websites and follow the links they recommend. I guess you could say I’m an INFO-maniac! All the hours of research I’ve put in on the craft of writing have paid off. I’ve learned a lot and my writing has come a long way over the years.
One thing I noticed several years back is the term “layering.” This sent me on an internet search to learn more about layering. What I discovered is that there
isn’t a website out there with information dedicated to the process of layering that I could find. Instead, I followed links to many authors’ website where they mentioned layering briefly. Each author had one or more items on their layering checklist. It wasn’t enough. I wanted a comprehensive list for layering. Alas, none existed. So I created my own. I thought I would share it with you now. I hope that it helps beef up your manuscript. Layering really can make the difference between talking heads and submission ready text.
1. Characterization – using your character outlines, go through your manuscript and layer in characterization details for each of your characters.
2. Character Arc – using “45 Master Characters” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, fill out feminine/masculine journey worksheets using the mythical models you selected for each character and layer in the journey details throughout your manuscript.
3. Setting Details – layer in details about the settings in your manuscript using all your senses, enhance those vivid images even more.
4. Romance – (for non-romance novels) layer in romantic elements, heighten the romantic tension.
5. Romance – (for romance novels) – using the “12 stages of Intimacy” by Lisa Cooke, heighten the romance and tension, check to make sure your characters go through all the stages in order to make the love story more believable.
6. Subplot – layer in a subplot or two, beef up the subplot you already have.
7. Research – you’ve accomplished the task of actually finishing a novel, now’s the time to go research crazy and layer in some of that knowledge.
8. Sensory Details – layer in the five senses in every scene.
9. Plot Arc – using “Story Structure Architect” by Victoria Lyn Schmidt, find your plot “structure” and make sure each element is layered in correctly for believability.
10. Conflict Arc – using “Story Structure Architect” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, find your conflict “situations” and make sure each element is layered in correctly for believability.
11. Dialogue – look at only your dialogue, say it out loud, and layer in more natural-sounding dialogue
12. Movement – avoid THS (Talking Head Syndrome) and layer in character movement.
13. Reaction – remember, it’s not action, it’s reaction. Layer in character reactions for everything that happens in your story.
14. Emotion – feeling is what connects the reader. Layer in emotional response for your characters.
15. Tone – determine the overall tone of a scene or your novel as a whole and layer in more words that express that tone.
16. Back Story – avoid a back story dumps. Instead, layer in bits and pieces of back story that fit within a scene.
17. Passive Voice – fix sentences that start with “There is” and “It is.”
Here is an example of how layering changes everything for the better:
“I don’t love you anymore,” she said.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“What about it?”
Layer – Movement
“I don’t love you anymore.” Her eyes filled with tears.
“What are you talking about?” He put a hand on each of her shoulders.
“Our relationship.” She wiped at the tears that fell.
“What about it?” His thumbs pressed into her skin.
She pulled the ring off her finger. “It’s over.” She handed the ring to him.
Layer More – Sensory Details
“I don’t love you anymore.” Her blue eyes filled with hot, stinging tears and blurred her vision. She didn’t want to see him anyway.
“What are you talking about?” He put a callused hand on each of her bare shoulders. His thumbs felt rough against her skin.
“Our relationship.” She wiped at the tears that fell. Her hands shook. She wanted to get away.
“What about it?” His thumbs pressed into her skin, reminding her of how much he’d hurt her.
She jerked the diamond ring, wet with salty tears, off her finger and handed it to him. “It’s over.”
Layer More – Emotion
“I don’t love you anymore.” Her blue eyes filled with hot, stinging tears and blurred her vision. She didn’t want to see him anyway. They say love is blind, and she’d been a fool for believing that he was different than any other man.
“What are you talking about?” He put a callused hand on each of her bare shoulders. His thumbs felt rough against her skin. If he thought he could play innocent and sweet talk his way back into her life after what he did…
“Our relationship-” She choked on her own words. He knew what he did. Why was it so hard for her to let him go? She wiped at the tears that fell. Her hands shook. She wanted to get away.
“What about it?” He was still playing dumb. Lies, lies, lies. That’s all he knew. His thumbs pressed into her skin, reminding her of how much he’d hurt her. She knew the truth though. She had proof, too. She jerked the diamond ring, wet with salty tears, off her finger and handed it to him. “It’s over.”
I urge you to give layering a try. Once you get that first draft written, then it’s time to perfect the manuscript. Layering is an excellent way to polish that manuscript until it shines….polish that brilliant manuscript until it shines…polish that brilliant manuscript until it shines like a diamond!
About the author:
Texas native Jayna Morrow is the author of the Sweet Home series. Book 1 – Garrett is now available from Prism Book Group and is available at all online retailers. Be on the lookout for Gabriel, Holden, Henry, and Eli, as all five brothers find love and discover their life purpose along the way.
Jayna is available to speak to your writers group on the following topics: Layering, 15-chapter & 20-chapter Story Structuring, and Plotting a Novel in 30 Days Using the Fab Five for Authors. Please visit her website for more information on these workshops and to contact her about a visit.