Layering in Lusciousness worksheet

As promised in my workshop on Saturday afternoon.  I didn’t print enough of them.



can be, once you get the hang of it, but at first, as with any skill, you’ll
need to practice it and take some time to figure out how all the tools work for

the tools you use, the way you use them are not going to be the same for
everyone. Remember that exercise we did
at the beginning to help you find your primary senses? That’s a good place to start. Visual people, go with the colors, for
example, and work on one other sense that you might not use as vividly. One thing that gets neglected a lot in our
culture is scent. Americans are weird
about smell. We deodorize absolutely
everything. Add some smell to your
manuscript and you’re a long way ahead of the game.


practical details on how to enrich that manuscript.

1. When you’ve finished a rough draft, more or
less, let it sit for a week or two. (I
realize that is not always possible, but give it as much time as you can.) Let it get cold, so you’ll be able to give
it a fresh read.

2. Sit down with the book and read through
it. Keep a notebook at your elbow to
write down any repetitive images. Note
which scenes feel soft and which are pedestrian. Just make a little star on those scenes. I use D.I.B. which means, very simply, Do It Better.

important to remember that everybody’s rough drafts kind of suck. It’s meant to be a sketch of what the book
is going to look like. You get to erase
and rearrange and make it gorgeous in later drafts.

is actually more of a problem for working, published writers than it is for
those still working on earlier manuscripts. Both time problems and the feeling that the rough draft should be
somehow kind of polished. You can get
trapped by the feeling that your current work in progress is supposed to be as
good at the book you just turned in.

3. Make a note of the themes that are showing
up and the images your subconscious has coughed up. Trust me you’ll have both of these things. They might be a little soft at this point,
but try to find some images you can work with.

4. Once you’ve done that read through, go
through each scene. One scene at a time
to layer in the things the book needs. If it feels slow or soft or dull, try some things on to see what might
make it better. Again, go back to your
primary senses. What are the colors in
this book? What is the setting and how
are you putting that on the page—are you using all five senses? Where can you add imagery to underline
your theme? (For example, in a book
about ghosts, I used images of the Day of the Dead—marigolds and

5. Do one more read through—read the book
aloud. This will reveal more flaws than
almost any other technique, seriously. You’ll hear clunky language, catch repetitive works, notice that you
have used the word “luminous” 16 times. It’ll help you catch plodding language and places where you’ve just
missed making a paragraph sing.

6. Then, roll up your sleeves and layer it all
into the rough draft. It might take you
a few weeks of daily work to go through this process start to finish, but I
guarantee the results will be worth your time.



yourself a spectacular detail collector. Be curious about absolutely everything. Eavesdrop. Learn how to stare
without being obvious. At certain
points of your day, take a one minute break to really be in the moment. You don’t have to always write it down, but
it doesn’t hurt.

notebooks in your purse. 


1. Take time to do things that feed your
senses, all of them. Go to beautiful
gardens and museums, fabric stores and restaurants. Smell roses, perfumes, other people.

Make a habit of eavesdropping and buy sunglasses so you can stare more easily.

Carry a notebook and make sketches of things. They don’t have to be skilled or even competent, they’ll just help
remind you to really SEE things. A good
second is to use your cell phone camera, a LOT. If you see something that jolts
your senses, take a picture of it.

4. Travel. Wherever you can. Go to new
neighborhoods. Go to faraway places. Pay attention to your surroundings, but
also pay attention to how you feel exploring them. Are you excited, standoffish, worried about looking foolish or
intruding where you should not go?

5. Find music you love and play it often. Go to concerts or out to listen to music in
whatever venue you can enjoy. Go to the
symphony. Go to plays. Watch movies.

6. Develop hobbies that excite your
senses. Visual people might enjoy
things like making stained glass or quilts or learning to use watercolors. Auditory people might like learning to play
an intrustrument or collecting the music of a certain form or era. (I like the blues and baroque.) Texture people might like models or

think a lot of writers are magpies, and that’s good. If you get a yen to learn to cook Indian food, or learn to speak Arabic, or play the cello,
go for it. I promise that far from
taking away from your writing, it will add to it.

Read poetry. Aloud. This is something
we’ve moved away from in our society, but writers are the natural audience for
poets. Read it and feel it. There is a poet for everyone out
there. Find one you love.

8. Be alert to the themes and ideas you love to
use in your work. How do you use them?
What interests you? How can you keep
coming up with fresh ways to illustrate them?

9. Spend the extra two weeks to make a
manuscript really sparkle. To layer in
those colors, the details of smell and touch and song, to tweak a scarf from
blue to orange.

10. PLAY. ENJOY YOURSELF! Remember, this
is about making something beautiful, not a big, impossible challenge.   

From: LAYERING IN LUSCIOUSNESS, by Barbara Samuel,

4 thoughts on “Layering in Lusciousness worksheet

  1. Michelle

    Thank you for posting this. I didn’t go to the RWA conference but enjoyed reading the handouts, reports, etc.

    Also, thank you for posting the blog about your trip to the library in a “rougher” part of town. It made me cry – and reminded me of some of my library jaunts in my earlier, poorer days in my early/mid 20’s. It’s so good to be reminded of that – especially when I’m too comfortable.


  2. Thanks for the handouts. I ordered the conference cd and this is one of the workshops I’d marked as wanting to hear! It was great seeing you and your charming man!

  3. Thanks for posting this–such an excellent method and pointers. I’m itching to use it after I finally get through the first draft of my WIP!

    Although I didn’t get to “attend” the conference exactly, it was great to partake of it vicariously through this, plus the booksigning and then the Saturday night awards as a guest. It was fun meeting you at the booksigning. Still trying to picture for myself the “icy blonde” image you had in your head for me! LOL Perhaps it was the very recent strawberry blonde highlights that threw it off. Heh.

  4. Julie, I’m so glad to see you posting. I saw you out of the corner of my eye on Saturday night, but there was a mini-drama going on and I couldn’t stop just that instant. By the time I looked up again, you were gone.

    Nice to meet you in person, Gold Blonde! 🙂

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