It’s going deeper into the author. Me. You.
These are the layers I’ve been looking at:
- My mind. I’m a pretty cerebral, rational guy and I live in my head most of the time. I’m comfortable at this level. So when I write stories that are only at this layer, they might be observational but it’s still surface. It’s like reporting on a news channel. Stories should go deeper than that.
- My experience. I’ve found that writing from my experience takes the story another level deeper again, when I convey through my characters that I know the wrenching grief of what it’s like to lose a grandfather, or the heart-pounding sprint to catch a flight. It’s another layer again and drives the reader deeper into the story. But I’ve been challenged to take my stories deeper than that.
- My heart. I could take the already-signposted route and claim that as an Aussie bloke this is the element of writing I’ll probably struggle with the most. But I’m surprised by how many other authors struggle with this; bloke or not, Aussie or not. Peeling away the onion-like layers of mind and experience, and connecting with what you feel – in a tangible, real way for readers and putting it on the page – is scary and confronting. Writing from the heart draws readers even deeper into the story we’ve created. I’ve noticed with my own reading, this is where I connect with characters because I can see the passion bleeding through the words on the page. The author has gone beyond that they think or know, and has dared to put on the page what they feel. But there is another layer deeper than that.
- My soul. This deepest layer is where I want to be. I don’t mean by this that all Christian authors instantly turn into writers who produce sermons dressed up as fiction, but to me, writing from the soul is not just writing what you think, know or feel – it’s writing from who you are. It’s the essence of you. I’ve read stories recently where there is almost something primal about connecting with someone on that level. I love a good plot twist and clever turn-of-phrase more than the next person, but when I read James L Rubart’s The Five Times I met Myself, I was drawn in by the fact that this wasn’t just Jim’s words on the page, it was Jim himself.
PS: Speaking of layers, I've just launched my eNewsletter, which will be looking at the idea of diving deeper into reading, into writing and into life. If you'd like to subscribe - https://davidrawlings.com.au/how-to-get-in-contact/ - I'll send you a short story I wrote called The Funeral. It's another take on a life event we've all experienced.
About David Rawlings
Oh, and I love cooking, comedy and surfing. Over 25 years, I’ve made writing my career and paid the bills with words. It’s not a big leap from the six-year-old writing short stories instead of doing homework.