Layering the Onion

©Lucy Monroe

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about story development. I’m what you might call a schizophrenic writer. Sometimes I’m pure "seat of the pants" and other times I plot to the last scene in a book, but all of the books I’ve written have one thing in common.

They started with a story idea. This could be a scene, a premise, a series of scenes or simply a plot device (like revenge) that my mind starts playing around with. When I first started writing I truly believed that story idea was was the book. I also believed that if a scene sparked the creative process for a book that scene would end up in the book.

I’ve come to realize that I’m wrong on both counts. The story idea is the center of the onion, needing layers added to it to make it full and pungent. That layering comes from characterization. The better I know my characters and the more they are conflicted inwardly, the more layered my story becomes.

A question I constantly ask myself now is, "How can I make this deeper?"

She’s hurting because her first marriage didn’t work out and she’s in love with a man who despises her. How can I deepen this story? What if she left her first husband because he’d turned violent and she now fears physical intimacy with a man? What if the man she loves despises her because guilt from his own forbidden love for her makes him susceptible to the lies told about her by her former husband?

Those were just the beginning of a series of "what ifs" that led to "The Greek Tycoon’s Ultimatum" and my first sale.

Some writers get to know their characters as they write; some do in depth characterization sketches prior to beginning a book. The what if questions either happen before the book gets written or along the way. It doesn’t matter which approach a writer takes as long as they reach the same place...a story idea that has been layered deeply enough to be a compelling and emotional read.


About the author: Lucy Monroe is the award-winning author of more than thirty books. She's married to her own alpha hero and has three terrific children. The only thing she enjoys more than writing is spending time with them. Lucy loves to hear from readers at or you can find her online at


Easy Way to Write Romance - by Rob Parnell