Monday is made for chocolate. Every day is made for chocolate, but the first day of the week is a great time to start. From chocolate truffles to chocolate cake we all salivate at just its mention, imagining the melt-in-our-mouth moment.
Chocolate cake is one of my favorite kinds of decadence. The layers look so amazing when Paula Dean makes them on TV. All those layer pans and middle icing take careful preparation. Any misstep can change a cake into a pile of crumbs. In my kitchen the cake might heave a little to the left, but after that first forkful, who cares. It’s all about taste.
Our novels could learn a lot from chocolate cake. Layering our stories with precision and purpose draws the reader into the world on the page. Without layers a cake just isn’t the same, neither are our manuscripts. We need to layer our manuscripts in a way that gives our readers a decadent journey.
What are the layers of a decadent novel?
These layers are made up of your Point of View Characters. All of these layers have some things in common. They all have a lie they believe, they all have disappointments, and they all have dark moments with epiphanies.
As much as they are similar they do have differences, without the middle icing it would just be ordinary cake. There can be many layers, or just a few, but the heroine and hero are the two outer layers that hold it all together.
Outer Cake Layers:
These layers are made up of your main Point of View characters, usually a hero and heroine. They should be the strongest and of greatest quantity in your novel. The main plot is dependent on their journey. They should each be changed through the course of the story in a way that is obvious from the beginning to the end.
Tip: Make sure you have the right balance of point of view scenes for your hero and heroine. Use different colored note cards for each POV character scene, one character per color.
Lay out your plot scenes on the floor, a bulletin or white board to see if you have them in the right balance. Remember there should be more cards for your hero and heroine than any other characters.
This is the layer of your subplot. The subplot should feed back into the main plot at the end of the novel, for a tidy wrap up. This is where you can add richness by paralleling the spiritual plot in a variation if you would like, or just make the story more decadent.
Tip: Make sure that your subplot is not merely connected by characters related to your hero or heroine. They must reconnect to the plot and feed into it to conclude the book.
You may have other Point of View characters in your novel that add flavor by building funny dialogue or showcasing a quirky personality.
Tip: Each POV character should have a specific journey and character arc. It may not be as involved as the lead characters, but if they don’t have a complete journey then they don’t require a POV role in your story.
What is your favorite layer of cake? What is your favorite layer in a novel?