Layering

>It’s all the rage…just as my 15yo daughter. But, of course, here I’m not talking about fashion.

Linda first introduced me to the concept of layering, oh, seems like years ago. Oh. Okay. It was years ago. (How frightening is that?)

She’d talk about “layering in emotion”, “layering in senses”, “layering in conflict”, layering in backstory“… you get the picture. And, while I cyber-nodded as if I understood, I was sitting behind my computer screen with my head cocked wondering what the hell she meant by that. (But you knew that, didn’t you, Lin?)

It didn’t take long to understand how revision spotlights those areas of your ms that aren’t quite developed or are ripe for additional information that can tie in somewhere else in the story to make it richer as a whole.

Coincidentally, Linda has blogged on revisions over at Romance Worth Killing For today, so head over and check it out.

Now I layer all the time. With every pass my eyes make over the page, I layer.

But in those instances, I’m adding layers.

When it comes to my characters, every revision uncovers another layer of their identity.

I try, try, try to get to know my characters–I do character sheets, questionnaires, backstory, childhood history. I produce GMC charts for all main characters including the villain and typically for a couple of key secondary characters. I develop conflict and GMC from the heart of each character. When I’m in a character’s pov, I try, try, try to be in their head, seeing from their eyes, feeling from their body, thinking from their brain.

I slip constantly and find myself back on the outside looking in. Have to regroup, reposition and go at it again.

But I’ve noticed that when it comes to characters, the biggest opportunity to get closer to them is during revision. With each change, they inch closer to reality, take on another unique characteristic. Even though I’m, admittedly, not a fan of revisions, I have to admit that if there’s one thing I love about them is the way my characters come to life, little by little. And by the time I’ve revised the hell out of a manuscript, I’ve come to know my h/h/v like I did those who are now my closest friends.

Do you layer? How do your characters develop?

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