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I signed up to be an author, not a chef!

It's almost been ONE YEAR since I self-published my first book! The time flew by and I have sold a lot, BUT that isn't what has amazed me most. I knew that I was going to be fine in the marketing and promoting part of the book process. I knew that editing was one of the hardest things about self-publishing. AND I knew that finding the right cover artist was almost as important as the story plot itself.

BUT the one thing that surprised me the most about being a published writer is the art of writing the DAMN book itself! Within the last twelve months I have published over eight books. With each book I have learned something different, and I feel like each book has gotten better. I have NEVER claimed to be an in-depth, emotional writer. I'm the beach read for my women's fiction and a cozy mystery author. Neither of those require a lot of thought on the part of the reader.

Still. . .every single book out there has to be edited. I've made it known that the editing process is my least favorite part. I'm a panster and I can finish a novel in a couple months. The editing and layering takes another couple months because I lolly-gag.

Now that I'm editing my eleventh novel, I can honestly say that I have learned to embrace, not love, but embrace the process. It's all the slicing and dicing that gets me in a bind. I have begun to break my novel down into three layering stages.

1) FIRST LAYER: Writing the book. Yes! This would be getting the bare bones of your novel into print. I have changed my thinking from just sitting down and writing (which I do because I'm a panster) to trying to write the best first draft I possibly can. I still pants, but I'm more aware of the grammar, punctuation, scenes, etc...
You are writing the book, this layer includes the beginning, middle, and end. This includes the conflict, goals, and motivation of your characters.

2) SECOND LAYER: Scene layering. After I have written the first draft. I take a good look at all the scenes in my novels. This is where I have learned to beef up the description and make sure the scenes in the novel propel the novel forward.
It depends on how you write or your voice in how you layer your scenes. I write humorous, and in my first draft I write humorous dialogue and some little humorous tid-bits. The scene layering gives me the opportunity to add in those humorous tags throughout the novel to create an impact. Don't put in so much scene detail to lose the reader or overpower your plot line.
Give enough scene detail to grab the reader and lead them down the rabbit hole.

3) THIRD LAYER: Painting layering. This is where you make your novel colorful, full of life. This is where you would lay the description on THICK! And this includes all those minor details like describing the killer's hands, or the lover's hands. Describe the furniture, the animals, the sounds around your characters, etc. . .You want to paint your readers a picture, like it's a movie playing in their head. You are adding more and more meat to the bones of the story.

Building your novel is like building a house or even an empire, or a chef building a great meal or baker layering that cake.

Remember, ROME wasn't built in a day!

Story Fix blog has a great blog on layering. Check it out!

How do you layer your novel? What is your process?

Gerri Brousseau, you are the winner of The Tricked Out Toolbox~Marketing and Promotional Tools Every Writer Needs from the give-away last Friday! Email me through my contact page! You have one week to claim your book, April 30, 2012.

Thank you for joining my STREET TEAM!! If you haven't and want to (which I'd love it), here's the link ♥ Fun and Prizes!!


  1. Another keeper!! I always thought of it as layering too. LIke laying down different tracks on a sound recording. The hard part for me is just getting it out of my head. Everything (including editing) is easy after that. Remember Anne Lamott's advice about giving yourself permission to write that shitty first draft?

    1. Hahaa! PJ writing the shitty stuff is the stuff I love!

  2. WOW! I'm so excited to have won. As for today's post ... I love to cook, so one would think writing would come easily to me ... think again! I get an idea, but it needs to simmer and stew around in my brain for a while before I can even think of putting one word on paper. That's where I am right now ... stewing. Once I get past that, I'm on to the typing stage, then the editing (which I also do not love, but embrace). Great post. BTW, do you have the recipe for that cake?

    1. Gerri, I have no idea how to make that's a photo stock pic.
      I love when ideas stew and it comes out super clear.

  3. Great way to look at editing:)! To me, the third part is the most fun, because all the really hard work is behind you.

    1. Totally agree, Maria! That is now my favorite part too.

  4. Great post! Editing is really the hardest thing for me, as I much more enjoy the creative process itself, and editing seems tedious. That said, it is exciting and fun when I'm able to fix the scene into something that makes my readers see what I see in my head. So, tedious but necessary! :)

    1. It is so tedious, isn't it. Even adding one word makes all the difference in the world.

  5. You're a little ahead of me as a writer, but what you just described about layering is naturally becoming my process also. I've produced music and it is similar. You take a song apart and evaluate and adjust each part. The down side is you can get over critical when trying to enjoy the arts you've learned to edit. I always listen to music looking for the mistakes and problems with its productions. I'm now doing the same thing with reading.

    1. That is so neat, Nathan. I have no idea how music is made, but trying to find a mistake would be an although fun thing to do. I'm always looking for those mistakes in writing.

  6. I capture all of that in my first read-thru, then I do a grammar edit, reading aloud. Then I pass it off to friends and family for their thoughts and opinions, collect their stuff and find the common issues, and then fix those. Then for a final grammar edit. tedious process, I know. I'll keep going through it, tweaking and correcting until it feels "right". Then I send it out to agents.... well, that is what I have done in the opast! But with two books self-published and two tied up in contracts, I think there is a good chance my third will be a self-pub as well ;)

    1. Hi, Chickangell! You have a great process. I put a lot of eyes on mine too. I love being self-published and I'm about to get my next one out! Good luck.


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