Layering Your Writing Piece

I am a writer but I am also a quilter. It occurred to me recently as I began outlining a quilting and applique book project for the proposal I need to send, that quilting and writing have much in common. Layers.

Quilters gather fabric to sew into a quilt top from the scraps and perfect cut pieces of beautiful fabric they have collected. They work and work until the fabrics are arranged in just the right way to reflect the story or picture the quilter wants the piece to represent. When the top of the quilt is just right, it is layered with the batting for warmth and stability in the middle and another colorful piece of fabric is placed on the back. Three layers for the purpose of making a quilt and telling a story.

 So a quilter now has a fabulous backing, cozy comfy middle, and a spectacular top that is stitched together in another meaningful pattern to bring it all together. Many times the quilting adds another layer to the emotional story the quilter is trying to tell.

 Finally the perfect binding is attached and secured to hold the whole quilt together forever telling a story whether that story is about family, nature, colors, or design. The quilt sparks an emotional reaction for those looking who see it.

Writers do much of the same thing when constructing a piece of writing. It really doesn't matter if it is a children's book, a novel, an article, a fiction piece or a nonfiction project. The process is similar. A writer gathers the facts, creates the character, or lists quotes and references to be used to "tell the story". Next they write a beginning, middle, and end to pull all those scraps of knowledge or characters and actions into an informative or entertaining work for readers.

Next writers go back and revise making certain the layers of plot, subplots, actions, reactions, and climax are placed in just the right way to satisfy the reader and tell a story.

Finally, if the work is a book it is bound with the perfect cover to add another layer to the story. Articles and shorter pieces are bound with titles, headings, subheadings and final "bindings" that make the piece tell the perfect story for the reader. Whether informative, entertaining, educational, or just a blurb about a product the finished written piece is layered with information to reach the reader on an emotional level.

How is your current piece of work layered?

The more layers the more complex the story or article so think about the concept of layering. Layering both the story or plot line and each character's personality will add depth to your story. Layering interesting facts that lead or are related to other little known facts about a topic can also add depth and meaning to your nonfiction pieces.

And when you get tired of layering words, you can always give a go at quilting.

Terri Forehand is a writer, nurse, and owner of a small quilt shop. Author of The Cancer Prayer Book and The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana. She is currently working on PB stories for children and a project book for quilters. ,


Heidiwriter said...

Great analogy! I love this.

Magdalena Ball said...

I've always thought of good writing as a craft and your analogy makes that really obvious. Complex (clear) layers make for better writing (and more beautiful quilts too).

Shirley Corder said...

I've often been tempted to tackle a quilt, but I don't have the patience! Guess I'll have to stick to layering words instead. Thanks for the analogy.

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