Yes, less than two months after doing a writers’ retreat on an Alaskan cruise, I joined two writers (and one non-writer) for an Eastern Caribbean writing cruise. I planned to write one short story (The Polygamist’s Wife) and complete another revision of OLIVE TOMORROW to send to beta readers. I did write six pages for the former and scrubbed & layered through a hundred pages of the latter.
Layered, you ask? One of our cruising writers, a NY Times bestselling author, coined the term. Our non-writer asked us what layering meant. While the writers intuitively understood the concept, none of us could explicitly define it.
As I trudge through revising the mystery novel OLIVE TOMORROW, most of what I do is layering. Writing a discovery draft is conquering blank page after blank page. For me, the first draft is all about dialog and action racing through a plot. Revising the discovery draft, requires editing and proofing. It may require additional scenes, backstory, and adding / deleting / modifying character arcs. For some writers, it may actually require creating a plot. (I don’t understand this. The idea of plotting after the book is written freezes my blood, but I do know writers who write this way.)
Beyond the editing and proofing, I layer. I add gestures and interior thought to scenes thin with dialog. I insert setting descriptions where the story has lost its visuals. I knit in emotional responses where needed. To resolve beta reader comments, I sprinkle explanations, backstory, and clarifications where the story has gone obscure. I follow story threads. To ensure each thread continues and completes, I weave them in scenes needing their color, texture, and finish.
For me, layering is all about the adding, inserting, knitting, sprinkling, and weaving. I’d love to hear your own take on “layering.” In the meantime, enjoy the waning days of September wherever you cruise.