16.34: Novels Are Layer Cakes

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

Novels deliver a lot of information, and it’s helpful to consider that delivery in terms of layers. Novels are layer cakes, and we’re not talking about a three-layer birthday cake. We’re talking about a dobosh torte, or a mille crepe cake. And if we’ve made you hungry for stratified pastry, that’s okay, because we made ourselves hungry, too.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson


Remove your entire 1st scene from your draft. Rewrite it from scratch, using the tools we’ve covered in the last eight episodes. Once you’ve done that, revise it by highlighting the elements readers really need to know, and then put all of those ideas into a single paragraph.

Legend, by Marie Lu

5 thoughts on “16.34: Novels Are Layer Cakes”

  1. Mille-feuille would be an even wittier metaphor, because “feuille” also means “sheet of paper”. ;)

  2. The four chefs, Dongwon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, got several bowls and cake pans dirty in their kitchen as they described how to make a layer cake for the first page of your novel. Don’t forget the frosting! It’s a great wrapup episode, and you’ll want to read all about it in the transcript now available in the archives.

  3. Great series, thank you! I really like the series/ mini class format you all have been using lately. It the approach gives valuable information in easily digested bites (keeping with the cooking metaphor ;) ) . Looking forward to more.


  4. I loved this. Listened three times. The homework was amazing from both Dongwon and Mary Robinette. Still working on it. Thank you! Love all you guys! I needed this.

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