Monday, December 14, 2015

Writing in Layers

With Guest Hallee Bridgeman



Last fall, I committed to taking part in a box set of never-before-released Christmas novellas. All of the box sets which I’d previously been involved had all incorporated already published books. This one consisted of seven never before published Christmas novellas. I was buried under other deadlines, and found myself starting the novella just a few weeks before the deadline. Because I try to give my editor at least two weeks, if not three, before a deadline, I was totally crunched with time writing this book.
I write full time while my kids are in school. One Monday morning, I came home from dropping them off at school and started writing. That Friday at the close of my business day, I had the entire novella written and packaged and sent off to my editor. It wasn’t already outlined nor even conceptually sketched, and this isn’t the first time I’ve been able to write a novella in a week. I just have a process that allows me to write really fast.
I teach a class on my process, and the amazing Seekerville ladies asked me to write a blog post about it. So, I’m going to try to explain it and hope I’m able to make it make sense to you. As I explained what I do and how I do it, it occurred to me that the way I write is in LAYERS.
I’ve tried outlining in the traditional sense before, but my mind doesn’t really work like that. Rather than an orderly “I, II, III, A, B, C,” I have a big swirling mass scrambling for attention in my mind. When I get ready to write a book, I usually know the entire gist of the whole story and can see it like a movie in my head. Major scenes are detailed and everything else is kind of a black-and-white vague.
LAYER ONE
And that’s how I start - sitting down with a massive story trying to escape and consuming my every thought. But I need to make order of that swirling mass, so I start typing as fast as I can, 110 words-per-minute, and just get out action and dialog.
She walked into the room and said this. He said that. She walked out of the room.
I don’t set the scene. I don’t bog myself down with thoughts and feelings. I don’t much care about passive sentences or how many times I start a sentence with the word “she”. I just let the movie play out in my head until I get to the end.
The end result is a bunch of short chapters and all of the major plot points hit. With a novella of about 30,000 final edited words,  I can do this is about two full days (10-12 hours) of writing.
LAYER TWO
Once I have all of the action, I go back into the each scene and set the scene. What originally started as:
Joe rode his bike to campus.
Now became:
As he walked, he accessed the audio Bible on his smartphone, plugged the earbuds into the headphone jack, and secured the phone to his arm with the Velcro athletic band. The deep voice of a narrator reading the second book of Kings filled his ears before he strapped on his brightly colored helmet. When he reached the pavement, he hopped onto his bike and started pedaling, slowly enough to warm up the muscles in his legs without cramping, but rapidly enough to make good time.
He left the scent of the sea behind him as he worked his way into thicker and thicker traffic. The temperature rose with the sun and sweat poured down his face. At a stop light, he straddled his bike and pulled a small towel out of the bag strapped to the center bar, using it to wipe the sweat out of his eyes while he listened to Jehu war with Jorab.
An hour later, morning rush hour in full swing, he avoided colliding with a hybrid car by hopping his bike onto the sidewalk. The woman driving it while talking on her cell phone never even noticed him. Without breaking pace, he maneuvered back onto the road and kept going.
Most mornings, he made it to the University of Southern Alabama’s campus in an hour and fifteen minutes. He had come to realize that he needed that daily time spent listening to the Word of God. Interestingly, he could read a passage then listen to the same passage and hear things he never picked up reading. As he approached campus, he waited until the current chapter came to an end then turned off the audio. He locked his bike in the bike rack by the Student Recreation building and went inside to shower.

Photo credit: Crestock/Andriy Solovyov

LAYER THREE
This is the hardest part for me. *I* can see the scene, hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it. I often jokingly say that the reader should be able to as well, if not by simple osmosis. My content editor has to come back to me over and over again telling me to add “thoughts and feelings.” To which I often think, “ugh.” Not the most delicate response an author of romance novels can give, I know — nevertheless.
So, at this point, I go back through to every single scene and add thoughts and feelings.
After locking his bike, he turned and ran into a group of four Cru Students going into the building. Of course, he recognized Madeline Viscolli. After talking with her privately the day of the meet and greet the year before, she always stood out to him in a crowd. No matter how many students he could count in attendance, one glance through the group and he’d spot her. She hadn’t participated in the summer program this year. He knew she’d taken classes all summer long. Partway through the summer it had occurred to him that he kept hopefully looking for her in the crowd until he consciously forced himself to stop.
This morning, she wore an olive green shirt belted at the waist with a leather belt and a pair of blue jeans. With large sunglasses covering her face and her long black hair pulled into a loose braid that fell over her shoulder, she looked like a woman about to command an army.
When he expected to see her, he could usually brace himself and control his reaction to her presence. The unexpected times, the chance meetings, those actually took his breath away and made him feel nervous, jittery, and uncharacteristically shy.
He had seen a lot of beautiful things in his life. He had experienced sunrises and sunsets on the horizons of crystal seas that would envelop every sense like a living symphony of light. He had seen longboats and yachts that had been handcrafted with the finest attention to the smallest detail soar over the water like sea breezes. He had seen real beauty in his lifetime. Even so, he had never seen anything as beautiful as Madeline Viscolli.
Maybe other men didn’t see her as beautiful. Maybe to them she looked just like any other girl with dark hair and deep blue eyes. Unlike those other men, Joe had to struggle not to let her beauty distract him.
Now, at this point, I basically have a fully written book.
LAYER FOUR
While it may be fully written, it is certainly not fully edited. At this point, I read it out loud. You use a different part of your brain when you speak and hear than you do when you read silently. Because by this point I’ve been over the same words two or three times, I have to read out loud or my brain will skip and skim so much. So, I read out loud and find all of the places where I’ve written a passive sentence that would sound so much better active. Or I hear where she sat down in a chair but then walked back across the room and sat down in a chair again. I realize the places where the emotions are stilted and the conversation doesn’t flow naturally. I hear if I use a single word too many times or start too many sentences in a row with the same word. I fill in the holes that have been left and smooth out the rough edges.
This will take me almost as long as the original writing. Despite how long it takes, I never send a book to my editor without reading it out loud first. I simply do not. I write too fast that I need that forced slowing down of reading it out loud to truly examine my story.
My husband likens my layer writing to an artist who first sketches a drawing in pencil, then fills in a painting one color at a time until it results in a vibrant masterpiece.
How do you write? Is your method in any way similar to mine?
The scenes in this article are from my latest release Christmas Star Sapphirethe very book I wrote from beginning to sending it to my first editor in just five days. I am thrilled to give an autographed copy of this book away to someone today. {Note from Missy: Let us know in the comments if you want to be entered.} You can also find this book inside the Snowflake sand Mistletoe collection of 7 Christian Romance Christmas novellas available on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.



Inspired by the Jewel Series
MADELINE VISCOLLI finds herself on the Gulf shores of Alabama, where she takes part in a graduate program to earn her MBA. On her first day there, she meets JOE WESTCOTT, team leader for a campus ministry. Despite a mutual attraction, Joe’s personal rule of no romance with any student keeps any kind of deep relationship from developing.
Joe has no desire to have a relationship with anyone, ever, anyway. He left a life of luxury and his family’s business behind to live alone on a sailboat and serve in ministry. Then Madeline walks into the auditorium the week school starts and Joe suspects his personal rules might not apply to this graduate student.
That is, until he discovers Madeline is one of the Viscollis, and that her destiny lay in running her father’s massive corporation. Having rejected wealth and all its trappings since childhood, Joe finds himself falling for the vivacious sapphire-eyed beauty. Madeline knows she loves Joe, but is not willing to throw away her destiny of taking over at the helm of Viscolli Enterprises.

A Christmas Eve funeral washes all Joe’s plans away. Will their love succumb to the rising tide caused by their differences in lifestyles, or will raging seas calm and allow them to sail off into the sunset?

Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her.

115 comments :

  1. Totally amazing, Hallee. I've got the book on my tbr for review fight now, so don't enter me for one. I'm glad I read your post before the book. I'll see what difference that makes.

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    1. I'll be curious to see what you think, knowing how fast I wrote the book!

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  2. Hallee, welcome to Seekerville!!!!

    Okay, this is a totally dynamic and interesting way to visualize writing a novella. I love that we all work differently to accomplish similar goals, but that it works so effectively!

    I'm so glad you're here today!

    I brought fresh coffee, eggnog, and.... Chocolate Cream Pie.

    Because why not?

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  3. HI Hallee. Thank you for the great post and insight on how you write. It sounds like a great method.

    I have a copy of the anthology so don't enter me. :)

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    To all who have been praying for my mother Dottie. THANK YOU! They released her from the hospital on Saturday and she is doing well.

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  4. Cindy!!!!! I'm so glad to hear that, sending blessings and huzzahs for Dottie's continued full recovery!

    EGGNOG FOR ALL!!!!!

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  5. Hallee, I loved learning about your process. I write a fast first draft and then revise and revise and revise. :) Your first draft sounds lighter and something I might try. I need words on the page...then the real work begins.

    Thanks for the info about reading your story aloud. I read sections. Sounds as if I need to spend the time to read all the pages outloud. Do you read from your computer or a hard copy?

    Congrats on your success! I've brought cranberry nut bread to share. Enjoy!

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    1. Reading it from beginning to end is SO necessary for me.

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  6. Welcome to Seekerville Hallee.

    I know have the keys to the Kingdom thanks to you.

    I read every page of my book aloud too. Do I catch everything. Frankly no, sometimes the brain reads it wrong. HA! Another good tip is to print it out in book format or print it in a larger and different font. You are so right. Changing it up for the brain really helps.

    Now pass the muffins!!

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    1. I'm always amazed at what my editor catches even after I've read it out loud!

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  7. Hi Hallee!

    I've been wanting to finish my WIP by Christmas, or at least the end of Dec. I think I can use your method to finish. And I'll definitely try this for my next story.

    You all, Hallee is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. AND she is living out a true love story. I'll never forget meeting Hallee and her husband the first time. I ran into them at the airport in Dallas, and they are just as nice as the first time I met them.

    Thanks for sharing, Hallee and merry Christmas!

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    1. Jackie, I was so thrilled to see you on the plane to Dallas! I hope my process helps you!

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  8. Hi everone! I'm ony phone today. My family is moving to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, this weekend, and we are at our new house to meet with our 9-year-old's new teacher (he has autism so we have to go over his IEP). No internet today, so please be patient with me on my clumsy mobile typing.

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  9. Welcome to Seekerville, Hallee. I'm impressed with your process and how fast you write!! I'd love to write that fast. The problem: I don't see the entire book like a movie. I suspect you can't teach that. Any tips?

    I often speak the words as I type the story, especially dialogue. When I try to read the story out loud, I find I'll start reading silently again, as if my voice is tired of being involved. Grr. Obviously I need more cooperative brain and vocal cords.

    Janet

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    1. I imagine it's just a difference in how the creative side of our brain works!

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  10. Welcome, Hallee. Thank you for sharing your technique. I also struggle with the traditional outlining process. Getting the words down fast and going back to layer works well for me.
    I like the idea of reading the story out loud. Thanks for sharing your secrets! :)
    Merry Christmas!

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  11. Hi Hallee:

    It would seem that your system depends on having a ready supply of swirling proto stories, like proto stars, waiting to be spun out into beautiful little story solar systems. (With a name like Hallee you have me thinking in space metaphors.)

    So where do you get and how do you store these proto stories for future use? Do you brain storm in a free association style to generate these proto story ideas?

    I did this same thing, as a copywriter, to write major advertisements for products that have lots of features and benefits to explain.

    You asked how we write and I write very much the same way you do.

    First I think of interesting 'what if' scenarios. For example, 'what if' I wrote a western version of "The Gift of the Maji". I could put it in an old west setting and have a new twist on the ending that would surprise and delight readers -- especially readers who are familiar with O. Henry's story. Great idea by Mary Connealy had already done it in her novella "The Sweetest Gift".

    "What if" in a 'hidden child' story it is the child who knows he's his foster parents biological child. How did he find out. Why can't he tell his parents? Why don't his parents know?

    A Moral premise comes next. What example of value can the story show a reader that will help that reader advance on their personal growth arc? This is writing to a purpose.

    Next I go into a creative brain storming session typing out every insight and neat idea and twist of plot that the story might utilize. Is it an idea rich theme? If I am overflowing with good bits of ideas, the story is a go. If I can't develop many good insights, then the story dies until I can produce a brain storming session that is more than just a tempest in a teapot.

    Lastly, I write the story, just as you seem to do, in layers. I also always edit in layers. I may have over a dozen edit pass-throughs. For example, I will edit for just one problem. It is easier to edit for a given problem if you run though the copy looking for just that one problem.

    Here's the rub: this system works best after you already know how to write well in the old traditional lineal method. Doing it this way requires that one be a very good editor.

    So there you have it. Since we seem to write a lot alike, I really want to read one of your Christmas novellas ASAP! Before Christmas for sure! Please place me in the drawing.

    Vince

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    1. I love that there's someone out there who thinks like I do! LOL
      I rend to just have a vague idea of a plot or character and the rest just comes.

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  12. Hallee, this is a good method. I think we all do a form of layering (OR WE SHOULD, adding needed depth in subsequent drafts). I'm toying with an idea for my SPEEDBO project, and if I can get it to gel, I may use your method in March. Thanks!
    Love to be entered in drawing,
    Kathy Bailey

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  13. Hi Hallee, our brains do work differently. I was hoping my brain could be trained. May be that old dog thing at work. LOL

    Janet

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    1. If your system works for you, no need to retrain! LOL

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  14. Hallee, I am really excited about your process. The way you see your story in your mind is exactly how I see mine. All swirly and trying to get out at the same time, lol. I'm headed to work, but I am going to try to squeeze out some writing time and try your method! Thanks for the tips!

    Please enter me. I would love to win Christmas Star Sapphire!

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    1. I'm glad to hear you know what I mean! Sometimes I expect people to think I'm slightly insane talking about it. LOL

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  15. Fascinating, Hallee! I can write my first draft fast, but I outline things before I ever set my fingers to the keyboard.Your way of writing both excites and scares me. :) I love that God created each of us so uniquely, including how we put stories to the page. :) I loved reading about your process.

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    1. Thank you, Jeanne! I love our uniqueness, too!

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  16. Good Morning Hallee and welcome to Seekerville. Thank you for outlining and demonstrating your layers. I think I pretty much write the same way. Only I think I'm done the first time through and then my crit partner makes me go back and do the layers. LOL.

    Well, I've learned that I do need to go back and fill in the layers. I like that you call them layers. sounds better than revising which indicates not perfect and must improve. Layers just sounds better. smile

    And I really think reading aloud helps tremendously. It helps me to discover the words I overuse. I learned that from Sharon Wagner, one of the first published authors I ever met.

    Thanks again for coming by. Have fun today.

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    1. It's CRAZY how you can hear overused words that you might not read.

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  17. Good morning, everyone! I'm finally here. I was up most of the night getting my son and his fiancee off on a trip. So I didn't go to sleep until about 5:30 am. I just now woke up!

    Hallee, welcome! I'm so glad you're here today.

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    1. I'm happy to be here, too. I love visiting Seekerville.

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  18. Marianne, enjoy the story!

    Cindy W, I'm so glad to hear about your mom!

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  19. Debby, I thought of you when I first read Hallee's post.

    Hallee was kind enough to share her method with me a couple of months ago when I asked her about how she's so productive. I really want to try this method. I used to fear revising so would have been leery of trying it. But I think layering is a little different. It's more like you're still building the first draft. :)

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    1. I think layering is a better way to describe it. Revising is what I do when the editor is so mean to me. LOL

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  20. Tina, I didn't know you read your stories out loud! That must take some stamina.

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  21. Jackie, I agree! She is so sweet when I've met her in person. :)

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  22. Janet, I used to see the story as a movie as it unfolded. I don't do that as much now, but I think it's something I can focus on trying to do again.

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  23. Hallee, so good of you to describe in detail and show us examples of how you write. I really want to try an abbreviated form first. I do a first draft (really rough) and then go back and fill in with emotions and details.

    I've used the voice reader on my computer...and caught a few goofs!

    Hoping your move goes smoothly...and wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

    Would love to be entered for Christmas Star Sapphire!

    And thanks, Ruthie, for the chocolate...and coffee....and someone brought muffins?

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  24. Good morning, Jill. I'm glad you dropped by!

    Vince, it does sounds as if you write in a similar way. I'll be interested to see your answer to Vince's question about story ideas.

    I keep a file and jot down ideas whenever I have them. But I don't seem to have as many as I used to! Maybe I need to read more.

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  25. Hallee, welcome to Seekerville, and thanks for sharing your layering process--fascinating! It makes really good sense to get the story down as quickly as possible, but I'm just not sure I could do it. I labor over each word, sentence, and paragraph, which pretty much amounts to layering as I write.

    I don't often read my mss. aloud--as Missy said, that takes a lot of stamina!--but I do "hear" the words in my head as I'm revising. I also print out my close-to-final draft in landscape mode, two columns, in a different font. My husband reads through it and marks anything he finds (and unfortunately, he doesn't always catch every typo), and then I read it again.

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    1. I have a friend who makes each paragraph absolutely perfect before moving to rhe next. I, clearly, don't think like that.

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  26. Kathy B, it seems like it could be fun to try her method on your story! :) You'll have to let us know how it goes.

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  27. Good morning Hallee.

    My method isn't exactly like yours, but I do save certain layers for after the book is written.

    Setting. Unless there's a big storm or something, the weather and room details are saved until later.

    Kissing scenes. I hate these. First draft, and maybe second draft, I just jot down the basics. Then later I force myself to go back and add more emotion, etc. LOL.

    I never get through editing!

    A lot of time I read my ms out loud, but I need to every time because it makes such a big difference.

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    1. I leave fight scenes for later - lol. They take a lot of energy to do.

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  28. Donna, I hope you have a great day at work!

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  29. Hi Hallee

    What a timely post for me. I'm writing a new novella in Jan. I, too, see the story play like a movie. In fact, it's already playing in my brain. This is actually the way I used to write, but for some reason switched to writing and editing as I go. Bad idea for me. Too time consuming.

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    1. Writing and editing at the same time kills my creativity, I think.

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  30. Thank you, Hallee, for sharing your process. I need to try this. I am the kind of writer who can't stand to write something that I know is terrible. Therefore, I get nothing written down. I really like the way you do it. Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. I don't consider it done or even readable until I've gone through several layers.

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    2. I don't consider it done or even readable until I've gone through several layers.

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  31. Jeanne, I agree! It's so fun to hear the different methods we all use. I keep thinking I'll find the perfect mix to become my method. :)

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  32. Sandra, that's so true about feeling like it's done and then a cp saying it's not. We're usually so close to it that it's hard to be objective. :)

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  33. Kathryn, I've got red velvet cupcakes to share! Actually, my son made them with his girlfriend, and they're delicious!! However, they'd never made red velvet before so didn't use enough food coloring. So they're calling them brown velvet cupcakes. LOL

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    1. My husband always has red velvet cale for his birthday - which is Wednesday!

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  34. Myra, I do the same with printing my mss. I use landscape and put two pages per piece of paper, so it looks like a book. Then my husband reads it for me with his trusty red pen. :)

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  35. Connie, that's so funny about the kiss scenes! :) Unless I'm majorly involved in the story, they can be difficult for me--mainly because I don't want them all to turn out the same from book to book.

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  36. Elaine, did you switch methods on purpose? I did the same thing and don't really know why. Hallee has inspired me to try it again!

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  37. I LOVE THIS HALLEE!!!

    This is perfect because I try to ALWAYS remember that we each have our own way that works for us!

    And here you are with YOUR way. I celebrate everytime I find someone with a NEW system for writing books because that helps each of us use a filter when some adviser (aka know it all....like ME!) says, "This is how you do it. This is the RIGHT way to do it."

    There is no one right way. There is only the way that works for you.

    ps ONE WEEK!

    Way to go girl! WOW!

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  38. Hi Janet:

    You wrote,

    "I was hoping my brain could be trained. May be that old dog thing at work. LOL"

    I know you were speaking in jest but in reality I have found that old dogs are best at learning new tricks. This is from three years training K9 dogs in the Air Force.

    Young dogs get too distracted too easily. Young dogs may not even understand the concept of learning a trick!

    An old dog has pretty much seen it all. The old dog looks up at you and his eyes seem to say, "Oh, so it's time to teach me a new trick, is it now?"

    There is a formal "I'm teaching you a trick mode". The old dog knows this and also knows that the session will not go over 20 minutes.

    I inherited a very smart 8 year old German Shepherd K9 dog whose past handlers never taught him a single trick. That dog was taught nothing that was not required by the Air Force! How sad.

    Within a month I had that dog doing over a dozen tricks. He was amazing. He loved to learn and he was always motivated to please his handler. His name was Quador and by the time the NATO day K9 show was put on for the local Italians, Quador had his own solo trick show to entertain the folks.

    So to be fair to the dogs of the world, and especially the old dogs, I just wanted to tell this true story.

    K9 instructors had a saying back then, "The hardest part in training a K9 dog is training the human handler to train the dog properly."

    I think there needs to be an old dog in one of your novellas that wins the 'best in show' at the county fair for doing new tricks!

    Vince

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    1. What a great lesson to learn for us set in our ways!

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  39. LOL, Vince!! I love your take on old dogs learning new tricks. I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now thanks to you! :)

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  40. Mary, you're right! The only right way is the one that works for each of us.

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  41. Hello Hallee! Since today's topic is "layers", did someone share their recipe for 7-Layer Dip? *wink*

    Please put toss my name in the dish for the drawing....

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    1. One of my favorite 7 layer dips is Mediterranean : hummus, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, spinach mixed with mint and lemon juice, feta cheese, red onion

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  42. Oh, VINCE, I love your dog story! How fun!!!

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  43. Hi Hallee:

    It just occurred to me that my advertising writing style was almost totally dictated by my need to write powerful selling ads quickly! I was generating full page newspaper ads every day plus a double page ad that ran Friday and Saturday.

    Talk about deadlines! Every day there was a deadline. Some days the merchandizing head would come up to the advertising office and tell me that they were out of stock of a feature item in tomorrow's ad and to change the item to something else on the newspaper proof. This give me one hour to write a feature advertisement.

    And the ads better be good! Each newspaper ad was posted in the sales office with the number of people it brought into the store and what the sale's volume was for that day. If the numbers were off, those sales people would look at you like you just crawled out of a pond!

    That's why I had to use your layer writing method. It was a matter of survival. Speed with quality or they could get new copywriters!

    Vince

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    1. I don't have the type of creative brain to do ads. I so admire that. I pay someone to dp the ads for my own books even.

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  44. Vince, I can't imagine how much pressure that was with those deadlines!

    Hallee, that recipe sounds amazing! You should come visit our Yankee-Belle blog someday and share it.

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  45. Hallee, prayers for your move to Fort Knox and for your child to love the new school and teacher.

    I went to kindergarten and 7th and 8th grade at Fort Knox. Also returned when I was a freshman in college, and my dad was stationed there again. After graduating from Ohio State, I ran the Blood Bank at the hospital on post. Met my hubby there two years later, and we were married at the Main Post Chapel. So many wonderful memories. My son and daughter-in-law were stationed there and visiting them was like coming home. A part of my heart is there at Fort Knox!

    Where are you living? On Post? Radcliff? E'town?

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    1. We are living on post. If you come back, please let me know! I'd love to have a cup of coffee with you!

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  47. Well, my first thought after reading this post is "so simple, and yet..."
    I have never tried writing anything like your process, but I suddenly have a powerful itch to try. Somehow what you've laid out seems to gel with me. I appreciate you sharing this with Seekerville. Thanks!

    Wouldn't mind being in the draw for the novella... now, off to read the other comments.

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    1. DebH - An itch to try may just mean a nudge of your subconscious for something that may work for you!

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  48. Ho everyone : I didn't realize that the comments look different on my phone than on a computer. I see them bedded and just thought Seekerville had changed its theme! So, if today has been confusing, I apologize. I will address everyone by name now.

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  49. Debby, I thought of you when Hallee mentioned Ft. Knox! Hallee, I grew up in Bowling Green and that's still "home" for me. I love heading that way to visit my parents!

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  50. debH Isn't it fun to find a method that seems to be a good fit? I'm going to try this method soon.

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  51. No problem on the blog threads, Hallee! It has happened before. I think everyone can figure out when you've been talking to them. :)

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  52. Hi Hallee:

    Your wrote:

    "I don't consider it done or even readable until I've gone through several layers."

    This reminds me of one of my favorite writer quotes. Anatole France was quoted by a biographer as saying:

    "The first six drafts anyone could have written. But the seventh draft, that's Anatole France."

    As someone who follows the layering method, I've always loved that quote.

    You also wrote:

    "I don't have the type of creative brain to do ads. I so admire that. I pay someone to do the ads for my own books even."

    Well I do seem to have just the right brain to write direct response advertising but that does not translate very well in writing fiction. I know very well what makes up great fiction writing. I just can't do it very well. (And scores of contest judges will attest to this.) Therefore, I really admire those with the creativity to write heartwarming, page-turning fiction. In fact I've been know to like a book more because of how well it was written rather than how enjoyable it was to read.

    Vince

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  53. Hi Missy:

    You wrote:

    "Vince, I can't imagine how much pressure that was with those deadlines!"

    When I was very busy writing ads, I'd look forward to having two hours in the dentist chair just to get away from it all.

    Also, Adverting Age ran a story back then that said "Advertising creative staff died on average at the second lowest age of any profession studied."

    Do you know who was dying at an even younger age? Air Traffic controllers! Their mistakes can actually cause real dead lines.

    Vince

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  54. CALLING KC

    If you are out there today, what is your take on teaching old dogs?

    Vince

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  55. Vince, ad execs and developers are under the crunch all the time. And it doesn't matter if their stuff is good, it matters if the client likes it.

    Wait.

    Kind of like EDITORS!!!!

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  56. Hi Ruth:

    You wrote:

    "Vince, ad execs and developers are under the crunch all the time. And it doesn't matter if their stuff is good, it matters if the client likes it."

    That's very true for tv and radio advertising. There is a saying in air media advertising circles: "A good ad is one the client accepts."

    However, in direct mail and direct response advertising (the only ad people who really know what they are doing) your ads have to produce or you are quickly fired. Remember in direct response advertising everything is measured and tested. Often the client knows right down to the dollar how much the ads cost, how much money they brought in, and how profitable the ad promotion was. You can't be a phony in DR or direct response advertising.

    My training and experience is 99% in DR advertising. This lets me know what really works.

    Vince

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  57. Thank you for this post. I was already doing some of this when I write. Now for applying the layers. Please include me in the drawing for your book.

    Sorry to comment so late in the day. The Internet disappeared last night until about a half hour ago.

    I finished With this kiss Contemporary collection yesterday so hopefully now that I have Internet again I will get a review posted this evening. I love the Seeker collections.

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    1. Wilani - no need to apologize. My son had a speclist appointment in the midst of our move. My hectic day hase replying ay 10:45 at night!

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  58. Wilani, I'm so glad you loved that collection! We do, too!!!! And we cherish your reviews!

    My internet keeps going in and out too.

    And you and I aren't exactly neighbors!!!! :)

    I must go do a little holiday organizing. I made thumbprint cookies, but the thumbprints disappeared. They came out flat.... should have added more flour!!!

    But they taste delicious and I can easily undo 6 weeks of being careful by eating 44 flat raspberry topped non-thumbprint cookies.

    SAVE ME FROM MYSELF!!!!

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  59. I'm sorry to be out for so long! We went and FINALLY got our Christmas tree. :) But then I also made an unplanned grocery trip. Maybe I'm finally ready for Christmas. Well, almost. :)

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  60. Vince, I knew that about air traffic controllers, but not about advertisers! I'm glad you managed to survive it. :)

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  61. Wilani, I'm glad your Internet is back! That drives me crazy when our gets spotty.

    Thanks for reading! We appreciate you!

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  62. Ruthy, how about I come help you with those? I don't mind printless cookies. :)

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  63. HALLEE!!! I soooo admire you for the discipline it takes to do what you do ... and so quickly!!

    2016 is my year to try and write fast, although I haven't done that since my 2nd book, which I wrote -- 481 pages (147,000 words) -- in one month, so I know I can do it. But haven't done it since. I'm WAY too anal, which is why your post today was so good for me. Thanks for sharing your secrets!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie: I,wish you all the nest in writing fast on 2016!

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  64. Thank you for sharing with us, Hallee! (love your name, by the way) :)
    Reading about your writing process was fascinating to me - - I always enjoy learning how various authors create their amazing stories.
    Merry Christmas!
    Blessings, Patti Jo

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    1. CatMom: Thank you! My grandfather's name was Hal - I am honored to be named after him. Merry Christmas!

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  65. Hallee, I absolutely love this post. It is one of the best guides to writing and editing that I've read. The four different ways you develop your manuscript and layer it is great. I think this approach is great for editing to make sure I have the different layers and look for them while I'm going back over the manuscript. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm definitely using some of your layering techniques as I edit my NaNoWriMo work in progress.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Tanya : Wow! That's high praise on a blog like Seekerville! I am honored! I pray my technique helps you!

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  66. Julie, that's amazing that you wrote that whole book in a month!! You definitely have the ability to write fast in you. Of course, that may have about done you in the last time. LOL Maybe you could find some middle ground in 2016. :)

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  67. Tanya, Hallee's method could definitely be a good way to do edits on an already completed manuscript. Especially if you wrote it quickly like in NaNoWriMo.

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  68. Hi Hallee! I'm very structured in all else--an engineer by profession--and thought I should or would be in writing. Until I found that detailed outlines sucked the life out of my stories and the joy out of writing. So this year I'be played with fast drafting. Haven't quite found what I would call my process, but it's been liberating. Would love to read your finished story, so please include me in the drawing.

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  69. Hi Hallee! I'm very structured in all else--an engineer by profession--and thought I should or would be in writing. Until I found that detailed outlines sucked the life out of my stories and the joy out of writing. So this year I'be played with fast drafting. Haven't quite found what I would call my process, but it's been liberating. Would love to read your finished story, so please include me in the drawing.

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    1. Patricia : Anything that sucks the life oit of your stories should be abandoned! I pray you find the process that resonates with you!

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  70. Hallee, your layering method sounds like a great idea. I'll be trying it.

    I know you are so busy right now....so I appreciate your visit to Seekerville. Prayers for your family as you settle into your new home.

    I just downloaded Snowflakes and Mistletoe....looking forward to reading it.

    Blessings and merry Christmas!

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    1. Thank you, Sherida. I took this date before I knew we were moving. I so appreciate your well wishes and everyone's patience with me today!

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  71. Hallee, I loved reading about your book writing method! That is majorly fast! I'll have to try this the next time I get bogged in deadlines. For Christmas, I've put writing aside so I can spend quality time with family. I'm excited about starting a new project hopefully in January though! Thanks for sharing with us!

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  72. Hey Hallee, I met you at ACFW this year. Wow! I am in awe of anyone who can write that fast and produce something readable. I'd love info on your class and would like my name thrown in the hat for the drawing.

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  73. Thanks, everyone, for dropping by! We'll announce Hallee's winner in the weekend edition.

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  74. I'm so behind on my Seekerville-ing (is that a word?). So hope I'm not too late to comment.

    Thank you for the great lesson on layers, Hallee. I loved the idea of skipping all the details but getting down the beginnings and then going back and cleaning it up with lots of details. I write similar to this, though not as quickly.

    I loved your Song of Suspense series and blasted through them so whatever you're doing, it works!! Toss me in for the drawing :)

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  75. Have just finished the first draft of my novel. Your layer system is a great motivator to get on with the next stage! And thanks so much for the clarity in the way you explained it.

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