On Layering Words

Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only for wallowing in.
Katherine Mansfield

I only recently discovered New Zealand’s Katherine Mansfield, she was considered to be one of the best short story writers in her time. This from her journal which I read in Gayle Brandeis’ book Fruitflesh…

We bought figs for breakfast, immense thin-skinned ones. They broke in one’s fingers and tasted of wine and honey. Why is the northern fig such a chaste fair-haired virgin, such a soprano? The melting contraltos sing through the ages.

This beautiful passage brings figs to life for me. I might never eat a fig again and not think of her words. In cooking chefs learn to layer flavors otherwise the food tastes “flat”. When I cook I think about how each layer is going to add to the final product. Is your writing layered? Add imagery to your writing through a blending of the senses.
Today try writing a few passages that are multi-layered. Consider that your character is eating a food they have never eaten before, how would you write the passage that would make your reader want to eat it. Now get back to work!

The Writing Nag

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Read some of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories

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5 Replies to “On Layering Words”

  1. Dear Pat, I get an inspirational quote sent to me everyday by Tracy Woolley, a friend on Facebook who blogs at inspireyourday.com.

    Anyways, the attached quote sent me to your site and I so enjoyed reading about your ‘layered’ approach to cooking and writing that I have began a new post to my site, integrating your ‘layered’ apporach. Thanks for your insight. Enjoy the inspirational quote:

    “Nobody else knows your reason for being. You do.
    Your bliss guides you to it.
    When you follow your bliss, when you follow your path to joy, your conversation is of joy, your feelings are of joy — you’re right on the path of that which you intended when you came forth into this physical body.”

    – Abraham – Hicks

    P.S. The next time I go out for ‘a bite to eat’, I’m stopping by your cafe.

  2. My daughter teaches Katherine Mansfield sometimes. I myself have never read her.

    But, my that one quote is a jewel within itself!

    I will think on this advice about layers for quite a while now. Because I will remember the fig.

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