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  1. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    Working With Layers

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by lilix morgan, May 18, 2009.

    I was recently skimming a book I found in my local B&N and found something that mentioned on how to stand out in your breakout novel. I was intrigued, and so I started reading it. Not even ten minutes into the book as I skimmed the chapters, I realized I might have some fatal flaws in my writing; the layers of my novel don't seem to hold a lot of weight, that is, enough weight to have the reader come back for more. Internal conflict, external conflict, background conflict, it's all so darn confusing that after reading that book I felt like a crappy writer who was no where near getting her book done.

    So the question bugging me is; has anyone else panicked about their 'layers' of their novel? How did you correctly balance conflict(s) within your story?
     
  2. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    Aw man, I say chuck the how-to books out the window. I spent years reading those things and got this much writing done: 0. Not to say that they can't be helpful, but I really do believe they jam up the gears in your head with all their rules. As to the conflict thing...it seems to me that if you have a main conflict, it's like an epicenter that all your additional conflicts radiate out from.

    Using the "Hero looks for magic tailsman" plot as an example, you can draw all kinds of additional conflicts out of that. The hero can feel conflicted about looking for the tailsman to begin with. He can be distracted by a love interest as a subplot. That's pedestrian, but it's kind of what I'm thinking.
     
  3. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    I've spend much time reading how to books in the library, in the shops.. but i've only ever found a couple of useful bits in all of them. They all seem to say roughly the same. Plus its more time spent NOT developing your own writing. But each to their own. Good luck!
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Once you start writing, you'll find that these "layers" appear without you even trying. As a reader, you can pull it apart and find all the conflicts and background bits and these different layers of meaning, but as a writer you should find that if you know your story and your characters then you will add what may be perceived as different layers without actively doing so.

    Learning to read and do that is an important skill to be able to truly enjoy and understand books, but as a writer I don't think you necessarily need to add layers on purpose just because a book told you to.
     
  5. Mystery Meat
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    Mystery Meat Member

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    I'm gonna go against the tide here.

    I don't think that Layers, as you call them, appear magically within a story. They need to be crafted before the second line of the story is written.

    The heart of the story is a strong arc. If the threads that support this arc are not as strong as you would like then consider them in the big picture. You don't want them to overshadow the main plot, you want them to be believable and supporting. If they fulfil this role then go for it.

    And if you mess it up don't worry. You can always rewrite.
     
  6. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    My own opinion is that layers of a story will flow naturally as a result of other aspects of good writing. A strong central plot will lead to external conflict. Strong and well developed characters will lead to internal conflict (on the other hand, trying to foce internal conflict on weak characters will just lead to pointless angst). Background conflict will come from a well thought out setting.

    If you try to stick it all in there 'just because' then it will look as though it was stuck in there 'just because.'
     
  7. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Agreed, layers become apparent once your story is done.
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=92B3E146AB7D132F

    This is the information that helped me sort all that out, the internal, external, and such.

    Don't expect your first novel to be something worth publishing, or even your second, or maybe third or forth. Think of them as practice.
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Wow, way to be positive! You'll never get published with that attitude :D
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Aaron, I don't see how it is not a positive attitude. I guess it depends on how one views what I typed.

    BTW, of the six stories I have sent to magazines, two of them have been published. I haven't sent any novels yet because I don't think their ready. I still have to prefect them.

    Anyway, the spirit of what I said is: it takes practice to get published. There is no reason to stress over one's first novel.

    Most of the published author's success stories I have read say that their first novels were crap, and they are ashamed to even show them to anyone. They are the ones who told me in their books to not worry about the first novel(s) you write. Think of them as practice.

    It is keeping a positive mind so that one doesn't give up if their first novel is not as good as they thought it would be.
     
  11. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Layers will appear as you write, but this doesn't mean you'll reach the end of the first draft and everything will be constructed properly. Halfway through a piece you'll probably think of another point you want to make, and while you can include it from that point on you'll need to rework the rest of your story to make it flow properly. Likewise, a simmering background conflict ought to be visible throughout, not just from when you thought of it halfway through chapter 27.
     
  12. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Geez! I was thinking that I was the only one on this forum who thought about "layers."


    To be honest, that was the whole focus (via another word) of my particular view of the "dimensions" of writing.
    Again, that is the whole point of me taking writing as an "existential religion."

    Perhaps I'm being a bit eccentric... but things like this take time to catch on.... and to learn...;)
     
  13. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I like to think of writing as a well crafted layer cake...preferably chocolate cake. Each layer of the cake deals with the overall plot/theme/story arc, but each layer of frosting, all different complimenting flavors, act as part of the whole story, but also have their own individual flavors.

    Now, if I haven't lost you with that one yet. heheh. I do think each layer or conflict in the story is important to the overall effect of writing a story. There has to be mini conflicts throughout the story to build up the tension for the grand conflict, the climax, and then the afterglow.

    From chocolate cake to afterglow...hmmm. Make writing sound fun.
     

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