Monday, January 23, 2012

Layer Writing

One thing I've never agreed with is the claim from any aspiring author, that they're a “layer writer.”
It's complete BS. No such thing, doesn't exist, buy hey, nice try.

The thing is about layer writing, and this is something I learned repeatedly with my latest book, is that it comes naturally. Fleshing out the story during and after is a natural process of crafting fiction.

It just happens.

Spending all focus on writing the skeleton of a story only and saying, “Oh, I'll add layers later,” is lazy. It's a very bad habit. And more often than not, a sole focus on layer writing will prevent an author from finishing a story. No author, aspiring or published, will enjoy being blocked. So, you know, just don't.

Also, chances are, if you wait until later, you'll lose that initial inspiration and wonder... what was I thinking again?

Crafting fiction takes a lot of brain work. It's never easy, but for me, it's worth every word and braincell.

I'm very glad I got the hang of outline writing for my latest book. If something slipped my mind, I could just read through my outlines and my brain would get restarted instantly.

There were several points in the story where I found I needed to stop, think about things a bit, apply yet another layer, then keep going with the story. I found by adding layers as I went along, when needed, the story became more real to me and made it that much easier to get to the end.

What I found to be an interesting experience for me, and a brand new one, was realizing not only did I need to add another layer to keep going, I needed more inspiration. And a funny thing about inspiration, it can come out of nowhere.

There were three moments specifically where I felt I had been stopped cold. Three separate inspirations helped me to keep going. (Bookmark this blog post. When the book is published and you reread this post, you'll find this hysterical). The first was outlaw country. The second, ghosts. The third, a dead squirrel I found on the sidewalk near my house. Yes, sometimes inspiration really does fall out of the sky. Weird but true.

These three inspirations inspired me to add layers that I wouldn't have thought of beforehand, and definitely not once I finished the story. I couldn't be more grateful I added the layers as I went along. It's definitely the way to go.

It can seem tedious to stop, go back through what's already written, just to add this other layer, but I didn't find it tedious. I found it satisfying to watch the story come alive. And I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in the world.

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