Muse Monday: Writing in Layers

Welcome to Muse Monday!

Every Monday, I’ll write a post about writing, or the muse, or frustrations with the muse, or excitement about the muse, or whatever strikes my fancy to write regarding the craft of writing. I’ll also include a Linky. Link up YOUR post about writing, or the muse, or frustrations with the muse, or excitement about the muse — ANYTHING to do with writing and the craft of writing.

Writing in Layers

I have found over the years that I tend to write in layers. I have all of these action scenes in my head that drive the story, and I have to get to each one of them. So, I write action — “She walks into the room, does this action thing that drives the story, and leaves the room.”

Chapter after chapter is almost entirely action. I cannot stop the forward momentum of getting from one scene to the other. I just write and write, creating the first layer.

When I reach the end, I have to set it aside. My head is full of all of the details – scenes, emotions, thoughts – and I have a hard time seeing what is really there and what I know should be there. This is where my husband comes in.

My husband is a brilliant writer, but as good of a writer as he may be, he is even a better editor. I hand him this action packed story, and he goes through it and makes notes. “How does she feel about armed assasins breaking into her home?”

In a way, this annoys me. My mind says, “How do you think she feels?” But, as a reader, I understand that I still need to give the reader that information. The reader needs to feel through me, see through me, understand motivations and characterization through me. I cannot assume the reader is just going to “know” like I do.

It is very easy for me to write that first-draft, action driven story. I know exactly what happens next and how to plot it out and get there. It is extremely hard for me to go back through and flesh out every scene with thoughts, feelings, descriptions, and setting, mainly because I can see it and feel it already and I don’t necessarily see where the holes are.

When I finish the second layer, I hand it over to my husband and he’ll line-edit it, picking apart the passive voice, fleshing out a lot of male point-of-view that I might not get right, and telling me what works plot-wise and what doesn’t. He gives it back to me and I put the final, third layer, finishing touches on it.

The end result is a wonderful story, driven by action but full of the kinds of things that keep a reader turning the page. The best part about it is that it was created with this wonderful rhythm and teamwork my husband and I have developed over the years. As a romance writer and a romantic at heart, I love that we are able to work together like this.

He is currently in the first editing phase of the book I recently finished (Song of Revelation, which will be released in December) while I’m currently writing scene after scene of the novella Greater than Rubies that will take place after Sapphire Ice, Book 1 of the Jewel Trilogy but before Emerald Fire, Book 2 of the Jewel Trilogy.

What is going on in your Muse world this week? Leave a link to your blog post! Here are the rules.


  1. Excellent post, Hallee! I love the perspective that writers have strengths and weaknesses, and getting feedback from someone we trust helps us fill in those not-natural areas in our writing. Thanks for letting us link up, too!
    Have a great week and happy writing!
    Kimberly Rae

  2. Great post! Depending on what kind of scene I’m writing I tend o do the same thing. Just write the action or dialogue then I go back and layer in the rest.

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