Wednesday Writing & #ThursdayDoors — Layers (Atonement in Zugzwang Catch-up)

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

CGI door by Teagan
CGI image by Teagan

Welcome, everyone.  Since today’s topic is layers, I’ve stacked this writing process post with Thursday Doors.  In my twisting mind, they are connected.  That’s how I think of layers — they are different from one another, but they still need to be similar or have something that connects them.  The layers of a cake may be different flavors, but together, they are delicious.  In cold weather, we layer our clothing, but (hopefully) the pieces go together.

Sometimes I think of my writing-brain as having many doors.  Behind each door is a story, or a character, or another world.  However, when I start building something big or complex, whether it is a mystery, a psycho-villain, or an entire world, I need layers.  Maybe inside one of those doors there is an entire high-rise condo building of stacked (layered) doors, each containing a different element.


An Atonement in Zugzwang Catch-up

CGI image by Teagan
CGI image by Teagan

Atonement in Zugzwang is my current “pantser” blog serial.  I write it spontaneously, flying by the seat of my pants.  Almost everything about the story is created and driven by random reader things, and the ideas those items trigger in my mind.  That said, this post is not about plot.  It’s about developing complexity and depth — layers.

Layers: Zugzwang. Behind the first door was the idea of zugzwang. That’s a chess term for being forced to take an action.  The Zugzwang Layer is brought into the story with the supernatural element and with the narrator, Pepper Riley.  In an overheard conversation, a supernatural being was warned to stay out of Atonement and not force the hand of the guardians.  Then a mysterious resident cautions Pepper not to let anyone force her into a decision.  The choices Pepper makes, whether to stay, and what to do about her late uncle must thread throughout the parts of the overall story, sewing the layers together.

Layers of Doors brights Teagan CGI
CGI image by Teagan

Layers: Clues & Chess Pieces.  Clues or other things that show up bit by bit help keep things interesting, particularly for a weekly serial.  Unicorn Layer-1, A handsome young man got very upset about some particular gold buttons embossed with a unicorn (on a jacket bought by Pepper).  Why?

Unicorn Layer-2, Pepper found a gold unicorn chess piece (which matched those buttons).  She placed it on the chessboard in the position of the queen’s knight.  Readers immediately wanted to know what other chess pieces might be found. (Yay!)  Unicorn Layer-3 might be on the way with Teri Polens things.  Or would it actually be part of Unicorn Layer-1?

Ganesha Carved wood door Dreamstime

Layers: Hints about charactersElephant Layer-1, From the beginning, references have been made about one character’s physical strength.  In choosing his name and in describing his appearance, I made multiple hints for anyone who is inclined to do a bit of research.  Elephant Layer-2, In the previous episode, more chess pieces were found.  A psychedelic elephant appeared in the square for the queen’s bishop. 

Layers: The Opposition. In that same episode, on the opposing side of the chessboard, a rank of “blue ladies” filled the positions for the pawns. That would be Opposition Layer-2.  (Yes, that’s a tad out of order…) Right now, I’m not sure what those ladies will actually be.  However, so far, all of the pieces are modeled after supernatural creatures or at least other-than-ordinary beings.  Who are the adversaries, and to what are they opposed?  We’ll see.

Image by Teagan
Image by Teagan

Layers: Dialogue Hints. Yes, in the following context, dialogue is a layer.  When used carefully, dialogue is a powerful storytelling tool.  One of the otherworldly pigs addressed the very strong character mentioned above by an elaborate title.  The pigs are rather childlike, plus the way they use words suggests that their culture has archaic elements.  Yes, that helps develop both the world and the characters of the pigs.  However, it accomplishes two other things.  First, it allows for mysterious hints when they talk. Second, it suggests that they are privy to information the humans, and some of the supernaturals don’t know.

Layers:  The Overarching Mystery.  The main mystery needs to be hinted at from the beginning.  The details of it unfold as the story progresses.  In this case, that includes both the missing body of Pepper’s uncle and his chess set.  As of Episode-6, Uncle Salty has been spotted at three different locations on the edge of town.  With each sighting, beginning near the Eastern Gate, the body is a little further west.  Why is his body being moved?  Moccus the otherworldly pig gave a subtle hint.

Opposition Layer-1.  Don’t forget Episode-1 and the conversation Pepper overheard when she stopped her car, just before driving into Atonement, TN — where the guardian warned off an unknown supernatural being.  Also, Maudie mentioned that her vampire ex-boyfriend was nearby. Are the vampires the opposition?  Honestly, I have no idea.

Image collage by Teagan R. Geneviene
Image collage by Teagan R. Geneviene

If you’ve missed an episode of the serial, this should be a good refresher.  If you are not following it, hopefully you enjoyed this post anyway.  After all — there were doors.

Thanks for opening this door.  Hugs.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Atonement Series

Atonement kindle covers Cat eyes shelf 2023

Atonement, Tennessee

Full series of e-books with one click:



Also in Spanish, translated by Olga Núñez Miret! The title for the Spanish-speaking market is Expiación y Magia

Atonement in Bloom



The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee



♦ ♦ ♦

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. It’s hosted by Dan Antion.  Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).


2023 Badge Thurs doors teresa-my-camera-and-i

Thanks for opening this door.  Hugs!


This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2023 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.


40 thoughts on “Wednesday Writing & #ThursdayDoors — Layers (Atonement in Zugzwang Catch-up)

  1. Plenty of food for thought here, Teagan. I’m fascinated by your use of layers and it sure helps keep the story moving and make it much more than the sum of its parts. Thanks for sharing some of your thinking and creative process with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used doors in the mind in my second book – that image above is kind of similar to what I pictured. Love the Shrek clip – I’d forgotten that part. Hope you and your adorable Tasmanian devils have a fantastic weekend, Teagan – hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s right. Buddah suggested there are four doors of our mind — consciousness, perception, sensation, and reaction. I’m sure psychology got in on the concept of doors at some point too. Authors just take it to another level. 😀
      Daphne is doing her best to try and answer blog comments for me… But she’s purring too, so I can’t be annoyed. Big hugs 🐱

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Layers upon Layers upon Layers…. All laid in order.. Always a pleasure to read what opens up those Layers when you open up certain doors..
    LOVE your creative Graphics too Teagan… Have a Wonderful Easter Holiday my friend.. ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The door to Teagan’s mind…Hmmm, I wonder if I should open that? Now I’m thinking of Let’s Make a Deal. Monty Hall asking me if I want to enter door number one? No, nope, I’ll wait for Teagan to open those doors on Saturday. On the other hand, I am always impressed by layers. Layers are important to so many professions and projects, but you’ve given me something to think about, re: layers in a story. Thanks!

    I am on board with this mystery, and I can’t wait for the next episode. Thanks for tying this in with Thursday Doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Dan. You’ve reminded me of the onion analogy used to describe some people. “You’re like an onion. Every time I think I know you, I find another layer.” I think of good stories as being like onions. Whenever I think I know everything that’s going on, I find another layer of the story.
      Thanks for opening this door. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Doors….layers… good writing, Teagan.
    I enjoyed the catch up, and am enjoying the serial.
    Hmm, I’ll bet a post like this helps you somewhat, too. After all, like you say “pantser”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Resa. Yes, with any of my serials I have to do something like this now and then — although I don’t usually make a blog post of it. Since I don’t know exactly where it’s headed, I have to at least remember all the nuances of where it’s been. Wishing you an easy coast down the other side of this midweek hump. Big hugs back.

      Liked by 1 person

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