Several months back, Margie Lawson did a guest blog here at Writers In The Storm called 10 Not Absurd Tips for Fiction Writing. If you missed it, you’ll definitely want to take a moment to catch up. She gave 10 AWESOME writing tips!
A little background:
I’ve been hearing about Margie and her classes for years but it was never when I had enough time for her to hit the front of my radar. As a result, I’d actually had very little exposure to her, even though we know LOTS of the same people.
I was expecting a wonderful post, but what surprised me the most about that last summer's blog was the comment section. The amped up tunnel of love flowing between her and her students was AMAZING. There were smoochie-hugs zinging all over that blog, and the warmth and generosity were beautiful to witness.
I've been saving up to attend her Immersion Master course ever since.
Below are my favorite tips from the comments section I referenced above – some from Margie and some not. As always, I included links where I could so you can explore some of these authors yourself. I limited myself to TEN tips so your brain doesn’t explode from the lava flow of great writing advice!
You should ask these three Critical Keeper Questions [about each scene]:
1. Does it move the story forward?
2. Does it deepen character?
3. Does it carry a Humor Hit you’d kill to keep?
Keep your book’s controlling premise posted where you can see it and will think about it with every scene! (Margie recommends you put it above each chapter header.)
FYI: A Controlling Premise is an expanded log line. It’s a story summary that is usually three to five sentences long. It includes who, what, where, and why — and shares those dynamics in a way that makes the reader care.
Here’s a not-absurd tip that I try to live by: Use the opening line and closing line of every chapter to raise a question, and whenever it’s feasible, end each chapter with a power word.
Margie (in response to Kristina):
I’m a big POWER WORD advocate. I vote for Power Words ending as many sentences as possible. Two words that carry no power — are IT and THAT. I vote for nixing as many IT’s and THAT’s as possible.
I carry a stack of index cards in my pocket everywhere I go. You never know where inspiration or your quirky characters are going to strike next. I am always jotting things down on those cards. When I get home I may rewrite them, but I always tuck them into an index card file box. I keep a box for my current WIP and for other stories running around in my head. Sometimes I have pulled entire scenes and even entire chapters from those card boxes.
Mindy Blanchard (a different take on writing it down):
Number one tip: WRITE IT DOWN! (even seemingly crazed notions can be important at some point. We always think we’ll remember it later, but we WON’T.) Keep notebooks in your bathroom We are always working on a new story. In the car, in the grocery line, etc. I don’t know what I would do without my mini voice recorder in my car. Surely you would think I could remember that juicy tidbit that will make my story rock in the 15 minutes it takes me to get home…What were we talking about?
Anita K. Greene:
A tip I’ve received: Don’t consider your editing done until you’ve read your story aloud. This will reveal tongue twisters, cadence and the ‘word of the manuscript’ – the one word that seems to be the perfect choice over and over again.
Margie (in answer to Anita):
The ‘Word of the Manuscript.’ I like that term. I refer to it as the ‘catch word’ of the book. They’re caught in the writer’s mind — and keep getting tossed on the screen. I catch them – but many writers don’t. Some of the ones I’ve caught are — muttered, seethed, irascible, shuttered, washed over (as in grief washed over her, fear washed over her, regret washed over her . . . ) snubbed, penultimate, discounted, furor.
My not absurd writing tip is that I always end a scene on a hook.
I learned that you should have all five senses in every 1000 words. It is a way to make sure you have setting in your work and keep your critique partners from having to say, “Setting would be nice.”
Have you thought about connecting with Mattel, marketing a ‘Margie’ Barbie? They could load her with pre-set Margie-isms: ‘Cliche Alert!’ ‘Write Fresh!’ “Needs more pink!’ She could have EDITS rainbow hair! And a walking stick for those hikes on the mountain.
My one tip would be to persevere. After almost ten years years of writing, my first novella releases this September. Thanks for all the help along the way, Margie.
Need a little more Margie?! Stop by to see her guest blog tomorrow at More Cowbell - she's talking about visceral responses to LOVE as a Valentine's treat to us all. 🙂
She can also be found anytime at Lawson Writer’s Academy. To refresh your memory, Margie’s most popular packets are:
She can also be found at www.MargieLawson.com. My favorite feature on her site are the Deep Editing Analyses. You’ll find over 25 short articles that analyze several examples from authors like Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, James Scott Bell and Lisa Unger.
So, Writers In Storm Friends…what writing advice do you have? Are there lessons you’ve learned that you’d like to share? What writing teachers have had the most impact on you? We'd love to hear about it!
About Jenny Hansen:
Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the wildly teething Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.
When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.
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