Critiques or Consequences, Part II ~ When Is a Novel Like a Layer Cake?

by +AneMulligan @AneMulligan

When you add layers, of course!

To draw your readers into your story, you want to create an experience for
them. But that experience is filtered through your POV character. You know that
already? Good.

But are you layering the senses into your fiction so the reader hears, sees,
smells, tastes, and feels it? It’s actually a matter of “showing vs.
telling” gone wild.

If you’re telling them what the character is experiencing, it’s like this:

I can say: “Joan heard a siren in the distance.”

Showing them is like this: A siren wailed in the distance.

Then you take it one step more: A silence wailed in the distance. Joan glanced
in her rearview mirror. The blue flashing lights of an emergency vehicle drew
closer. Her heartbeat accelerated as slowed her car and pulled over.

In the second one, you experience it with her. We’ve all heard a siren. I don’t
know about you, but the first thing I do is check my rearview mirror. I don’t
want to get in their way.

So avoid the word “heard” which immediately makes it telling. The
same with “saw”. I could have said: Joan glanced in her rearview
morrow and saw a flashing blue light.

But by showing you what she saw through her eyes makes for a better read. And
readers can relate to it better than saying she saw.

Another one that is often forgotten is the sense of smell. I love to
incorporate that one into my writing. If your character is taking a walk
through the woods, you want your reader to smell the pines. If it’s after a
rain shower, the forest floor is damp and the scent of leaf mold rises as the
character walks the path.

When Claire enters Dee’s ‘n’ Doughs in any of my Chapel Springs series books,
you join her as the aroma of vanilla, yeast, and sugar waft around her. From
Chapel Springs Revival, the introduction to the bakery went like this:

Claire paused on the threshold for a moment, closed her eyes, and let the
heavenly aroma of yeast, vanilla and almonds entice her. That indulgence alone
would probably add another inch to her waistline.

Most everyone has stepped inside a bakery and smelled what I just described.
Aromas trigger memories and that makes your fiction relatable.


Critique or Consequences, part 2~When is a layer
cake like novel #writing? (Click to tweet)

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea.
She’s a novelist, a humor columnist, and playwright. She believes chocolate and
coffee are two of the four major food groups and resides in Sugar Hill, GA,
with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at or her 

Amazon author page.