I started writing my first book about a year ago (in fact I finished the rough draft on July 3, 2008). Since that time I have learned so much about writing, crafting a good storyline, writing compelling characters, etc. – not to mention the whole publishing end of the business.
But perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that the secret to a great story really lies in the layers. Like a great painter, stories are develop in a series of layers – each one adding depth to the story itself.
Take a look at the video about oil painting.
See how the picture comes to life with each layer that is added. I believe writing a great story happens in the same way. We start with an idea. Then we outline, or storyboard, or simply let the idea blossom in our minds. After a while we begin to write. Once we have the “shell” of the story done, we take to the task of rewriting/revising.
It is in this process where I believe the layers are added – a layer of depth (including foreshadowing and other literary devices), a layer of meaning (where we add a social commentary or major theme), a layer of emotion (more on this particular layer in upcoming posts), etc, etc.
These layers can get woven in from the beginning. But it takes the rewriting processes for them to get fleshed out, optimised and transformed into something more. You see, for me writing a story is always a situation where the final story is greater than the sum of its parts (or in this case layers).
But what about you? Do you layer stories? How and when does this happen for you?