Friday’s Findings: A Fiction writing Experiment in Layering

I’ve been experimenting with layering as a way to develop a scene. One aspect of layering I find helpful is how it can focus on the dialogue and action. I believe those two fiction elements are where a writer should begin when writing a scene draft.

Here’s how I’ve been doing it: I make a “sketch” of the scene; that is, I list the main points of the scene. I include actions and snippets of dialogue. Incomplete sentences are acceptable for each bullet point in the list. In fact, using phrases and just key words may be preferable.

Next, I take a few deep breaths, sit for a few moments, or even a few minutes, and just think about the action unfolding in the scene. I don’t write anything just yet. I let my imagination go over parts of the story.

When I’m ready I write out just dialogue. Yes, I try to complete the entire scene with just dialogue. I don’t have to give attributes to who it speaking because I know who is saying what, perhaps from the tone of each segment. If I’m afraid I’ll get confused, I’ll have an attribute, but for the most part, I do that later.

Example:

“I have some of Gumi’s children’s books. She’s out-grown them, y’know how it is. Reading those dumb Unicorn Triplet mysteries.”

“At least she’s reading.”

After I write the scene with just dialogue, I add in the actions of the characters. The physical actions. I avoid internal dialogue, emotions, description and so on. That comes later. For now, I weave in the actions of characters between what is being said in quotation marks. i may even split pieces of dialogue with a physical action.

Example:

Arelaan placed a hand on her arm. “I have some of Gumi’s children’s books. She’s out-grown them, y’know how it is. Reading those dumb Unicorn Triplet mysteries.”

 “At least she’s reading.” Bri gave her aunt a tight-lipped smile.

Next, layer in the following fiction elements in any order you prefer:

  • Reaction/Internal Thought
  • Emotions/voice cues, facial expressions, body language, visceral reactions
  • Senses/Description
  • Setting/Atmosphere
  • Backstory
  • More action and dialogue as it comes to you

Of course, you can start with any element you want. I am experimenting with focusing on dialogue and action first so they don’t get lost in too much exposition such as description. This writing experiment is still a work in progress, but I’m enjoying it. I am developing a more detailed example I’ll post in the next day or two. I’ll come back here and include a link.

Meantime, here are some articles on writing I’ve come across lately:

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

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