If you’ve ever painted a picture more than a colouring book or a paint-by-number, chances are you’ve learned something along the way about layers. Layering is also a digital graphics technique in programs such as Photoshop, and as each layer is made, the image changes, taking on the shapes or colours as you add the consecutive elements.
Besides being a writer, I am also a vocal coach. I only take on students who are already in bands, or preparing for recordings or competitions, and one of the things I teach them is layering within a vocal performance: The nuances of thoughts, the power of imagination, the colouring of the vocals through not only the physical placement of the tone within their instrument (their body), but the placement of their imagination. One can communicate boredom or interest or empathy with the exact same wording by merely varying the intonation, and that comes through the layering of the performance.
Writing is much the same way: It is through the employment of grammar, spelling and punctuation that we signal the reader to prepare for a particular experience; as Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Oh, the difference between, “It was rainy last night,” and “It was a dark and stormy night”!
So the next time you feel like your manuscript or poem is falling flat, take a minute to think about the layers, and see what creative brush strokes you can give your work.
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