Tuesday, 3 February 2015


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

I've been thinking about books in terms of layers a lot lately. Each aspect of writing forms a layer. You get the basic ones that every book needs - story and characters. Then you get the other layers - plot, style, theme, setting/world-building, concept - which aren't always necessary but add to the flavour of the book when they're created well. A good book has the basic layers done well, but a great one has the basic layers and the additional layers all on point.

When I write, I usually only succeed in creating a solid story layer and a half-decent plot. Does it make for a good book? Not really, but I like to think that my writing *is* readable. I constantly tell myself that when I rewrite and edit, I can add on more layers and improve the ones I already have. This is very true, but I am the world's laziest rewriter - which is terrible, since most of writing is rewriting. My impatience makes me jump to my next project and I procrastinate on the rewrite. I've been procrastinating on rewriting one of my novels for three years now, and I just never seem to start.

I like to think of the writing process as having its own internal layers as well. There's the basics - grammar, putting a decent sentence together that means what you want it to, dialogue - but you can also get really fancy with by adding more layers. Descriptions, body language, metaphor and simile. These layers turn a bland page into something that comes to life. Although I'm bad at adding on the larger layers and lazy to rewrite, I'm pretty good at adding on these in-writing layers. When I have to get a scene out of my head, it's often the dialogue that I want to put on paper and the important action. So, after I've gotten a scene down, I start layering. I go back to the start of the scene, fill in the setting and description, show what my characters are sensing and turn a bit of dialogue into something that's simply better. 

Thinking about books in terms of layers makes writing one a lot less intimidating. The cool thing about layers is that you can keep adding them on as you get better. I've seen it happen with published authors, comparing their early books to their later books. The better they get, the more layers the book has and the better the quality of the layers. You don't need to write a book that's got every layer perfect the first time. Just work on your writing, one layer at a time.


Since this post turned out to be a lot shorter than I intended, I thought I'd include a short update on where I am with my writing currently. I've started a new novel and I've completed two chapters, but, I don't know what the plot is yet. All I have to go on is three main characters and that it's high fantasy. Writing this way is exciting and terrifying, and I'll either end up with something brilliant or a huge mess. Thankfully, the writing is going easily for me so I hope I can keep it up.


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