Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
April 26, 2013

Stellar Writing Sells!

Margie LawsonIt's been awhile but, sparing precious time away from her new granddaughter, Margie Lawson is back with us at Writers in the Storm. Laura Drake and Fae Rowen can testify to Margie's talents as a writing teacher. Here's another great lesson. Oh, as you read, you'll see that Margie is donating a course to one lucky commenter.

By Margie Lawson 

When writing is bad, we may quit reading. When writing is good, we’ll probably keep reading.  When writing is stellar, we’re hooked. We read faster, don’t want to stop.  And when writing is better than stellar, when it’s psychologically empowered, we’re immersed in the story, and we tell friends they must read this should-be-made-into-a-movie book.

That book is OMG NYT stellar.

Writers can learn what makes writing stellar and OMG NYT stellar.

Writers can learn how to honor their style and their voice. Writers can learn how to write with psychological power.

Writers can learn to write books that should be made into a movie.

I’ll share several ideas in this blog regarding how to add power to your writing. You’ll find examples and analyses--and humor too.

Please keep in mind that these are little bites of a few dishes from my deep editing smorgasbord.  Picture a smorgasbord that stretches across America, coast-to-coast. Lots more info in my courses and lecture packets. That deep edit smorgasbord is loaded.

Ready to dig in?

What makes writing stellar?

We’ll start with Writers in the Storm, Immersion Master Class grad, Laura Drake. Since Laura attended an Immersion class in May, 2011, she landed three contracts, selling a total of seven books.  Her upcoming debut novel, THE SWEET SPOT, will be released May 28th   (You can Preorder HERE.)

Laura Drake, THE SWEET SPOT:

Opening Paragraph:

The grief counselor told the group to be grateful for what they had left. After lots of considering, Charla Rae decided she was grateful for the bull semen.

A few paragraphs later:

The homing beacon in the Valium bottle next to the sink tugged at her insides.

She sipped a glass of water to avoid reaching for it and glanced out the window to the spring-skeletal trees of the back yard.

Her gaze returned to the two-foot wide stump the way a tongue wanders to a missing tooth. Tentative grass shoots had sprung up to obscure the obscene scar in the soil.

She hadn’t thought that an innocent tree could kill a child.

She hadn’t thought that an innocent coed could kill a marriage.

And if those pills could kill the thinking, she’d take ten.

Deep Edit Analysis: Power words: grief counselor, bull semen, homing beacon, Valium, spring-skeletal, stump, missing, tentative, obscene, scar, innocent, kill, innocent, kill, pills, kill. Visceral response: tugged at her insides. Multiple emotion-themed words.  Simile. Parallelism. White space. Backloading. Perfect cadence.

Award-winning author and Immersion Master Class Grad Robin Kaye. Robin’s writing is as fresh as it is funny. Enjoy the opening of BACK TO YOU.

Robin Kaye, BACK TO YOU:

“I think you killed him.”

Ten-year-old Nicoletta said it with such immutable calmness, Breanna Collins wondered if this wasn’t the first time a strange man had entered Nicki’s room at three in the morning and been taken down by a woman wielding a cast-iron frying pan.

Bree’s heart traded punches with her sternum, winding her more than a ten-mile run uphill. She sure as hell hoped Nicki’s assessment of the intruder was right. Better a dead burglar than a live one.

The dim glow of a streetlight outlined the shadowy figure lying facedown on the carpeted floor between Bree and Nicki. Dropping the skillet, Bree skirted the body before grabbing Nicki’s arm, pulling her off the bed, and shoving her toward the door.

The man groaned, and, like something out of a horror flick, a vise-like grip closed around Bree’s ankle. She landed hard, kicking and screaming. She reached for the frying pan, only to be flipped like a tortilla on a hot griddle, and covered with one extra-large serving of man.

Deep Edit Analysis: Fully orients reader to who, what, where, and when. Fresh visceral response: Bree’s heart traded punches with her sternum. Clear choreography. Strong visuals. Multiple power words. Multiple Humor Hits. Perfect cadence.

Joan Swan is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and a two-time Immersion Master Class grad. Fresh writing. Fresh style. Winning books.

Joan Swan, BLAZE:

The unease spread from bone to bone, muscle to muscle, until the serpent-like invader coiled around her body, chest to hips. A slow squeeze made it hard to breathe.

Deep Edit Analysis: Six Emotional Hits in 30 words. Used analogy of a serpent wrapping around the character, squeezing, making it hard to breathe. Fresh and empowered visceral response.

She squeezed her trigger. Again. And again. And again.

Too good. Too comforting. Too easy.

Keira didn’t know how many time she fired before Luke’s voice penetrated the ringing in her ears.

“Keira, stop! He’s dead. Keira!”

Somewhere in her mind she registered a hand on hers, the tug of her sleeve, warmth around her shoulders. Then she was in the car. She couldn’t hear anything but that obnoxious buzz. Couldn’t see anything but a fuzzy black background. Couldn’t feel anything but cold. Bone-deep cold.

Deep Edit Analysis: SHOWED Keira’s dissociative shock. Multiple senses. Short phrases, short sentences. Rhetorical devices: asyndeton (first sentence of last paragraph), anaphora, twice (three-time repetition of  ‘too’ and ‘couldn’t see’). Emphasized cold. White space. Perfect cadence.

We’ll wrap up with examples from Immersion Master Class grad, Julie Kibler. Julie’s debut novel. CALLING ME HOME sold at auction (St. Martin's). Foreign rights sold in 12 countries. Julie has book signings in the U.S., and in Milan and Turin, Italy. First print run: 100,000 copies.

CALLING ME HOME was released on Feb. 12, 2013. On March 12, Warner Bros. acquired the movie rights.

Julie Kibler, CALLING ME HOME.

Four Visceral Responses:

My face went hot and the backs of my hands tingled as if they’d been spanked.

A creepy-crawly feeling in my stomach scratch-scratched its way up to my heart.

Fingers of dread curled up and pinched the back of my neck.

My heart sank down low, somewhere around my navel.

A Power Internalization:

I’d thought myself so grown-up. Louie had surely recognized me for the inexperienced little girl I was, playing dress up, playing like I knew what to do with a cigarette and a cocktail and a man. Playing right into his trap.

Deep Edit Analysis: Power words:  grown-up, inexperienced little girl, playing, cigarette, cocktail, man, trap). Rhetorical Devices:  Anaphora (three-time repetition—playing with), zeugma and polysyndeton (a cigarette and a cocktail and a man), Perfect cadence. Backloaded.

Kudos to Laura Drake, Robin Kaye, Joan Swan, and Julie Kibler!

I’m sure you noticed, they’re all Margie-Grads.

I wish I could have shared examples from the literally hundreds of published Margie-Grads. I’m proud of all who have pushed hard to deep edit, to write fresh, and get published.

Stellar writing sells.

Writers often ask me, how much stellar writing do you want or need?

More than you think. But not so much that it’s intrusive.

No speed bumps. No overwriting.

I enjoy strong writing, what I call stellar writing, on every page. That may be taking a trite sentence and tweaking it to make it fresh.

Here are three examples from Laura Drake from THE SWEET SPOT.

These three sentences look simple. You wouldn’t notice them. But they’re deceptively strong.

1.    She stalked him, anger advancing with every step.

Deep Edit Analysis:  What’s special about that sentence? It’s fresh.

It’s not a variation on these sentences:

She strode toward him. She’d never been so angry in her life.

Or – She was so angry she could spit nails.

2.    Hands busy, he shot her his, “I-may-be-wrong-but-I’m-not-admitting-anything” look.

Deep Edit Analysis:  I like hyphenated-run-ons. They can be uber-fresh. They can deepen character.

It’s not a predictable stare or glare. Not harsh, piercing, or lasered.

 3.    Words piled into her throat, and she swallowed.

Deep Edit Analysis:  Fresh. Emotive. Powerful!

Can you feel the emotion?

Love that sentence!

What could Laura have written?  Something bland. Something trite. Something that’s an invitation to skim.

Writers can add power in small ways, and big ways.

An occasional hit of OMG NYT stellar writing will help you sell, or boost you onto bestseller lists.

How often is occasional? Some authors may treat writers to an uplift a few to several times in some chapters. If you can only put NYT in the margin a few times in your WIP, you could do better.

If you’d like to read more stellar examples and my deep edit analyses, check out the Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog on my web site.

Check out my lecture packets and online courses too. I’m teaching two new classes this year:

Starts May 6th:  A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop

In August:  Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts


Post a comment about the authors or their examples, or post ‘Hi Margie!’

You could win an online course from Lawson Writer’s Academy!

I’ll post the names of the winners on the blog on Sunday evening.


NYT Bestseller, Brenda Novak, donates an amazing chunk of her life to fundraising for diabetes research. She selflessly gives months of her energy, creativity, and what would have been writing time and family time to her diabetes auction.

Margie’s Donations:

1. A Year of Lawson Writer’s Academy Courses

2. A 25 page Triple Pass Deep Edit Critique

3. Immersion Master Class Donation Package!  Registration for 4-day Immersion class. Lodging in Margie’s guest room. TWO BONUS DAYS after Immersion class ends.  Margie deep edits your WIP with you for three hours on each bonus day. Total Value: $1500!

Fae Rowen also donates to the auction: a week at her beachfront timeshare at  Lawai Beach on Kauai, Hawaii.

THE DIABETES AUCTION runs May 1ST to May 31ST. Tour the Diabetes Auction site to find lots of editor and agent donations.

148 comments on “Stellar Writing Sells!”

  1. Great timing!

    I just signed up for Margie's "A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop" but I wouldn't mind winning another online course to take "Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts" in August.

    I love these fresh, vivid sentences!!

  2. Oh Margie, what a thrill to see my writing as YOUR example! I feel like I've arrived!
    I really feel that Margie was the difference between my 'nice rejections' and my sales. The examples above were written AFTER I took her classes.

    Margie, I still write with you in my head, saying, "Where's the sparkle factor? Where's the NYT?"

    People, do your writing a favor - take her classes. Then dig in the couch for change so you can 'Go to the mountain." An amazing experience!!!

    1. Laura --
      Ah -- I love living in your head. I'm swimming in stories and settings and characters and body language and visceral responses ... All fresh! Your head is an ocean of creativity!

      THANK YOU for recommending my courses, and Immersion. I'm so lucky. Teaching Immersion, I get to know the coolest writers. And I get to stretch their brains.

      I had writers from Australia and New Zealand in my last Immersion class. And I may have a writer coming from Cyprus this summer. In October, one is coming to Immersion class from Egypt!

  3. HI Margie,

    Thanks for sharing. I read through the post thinking, can I make words fly off the page like that? Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!

    1. Mariaki --
      You can learn to make words fly off the page, straight to the reader's heart.
      Thanks for posting. Hope to see you online again sometime!

  4. What an amazing article. It's amazing to think with a little hard work my sentences could improve to the quality I read here today. I'd never heard of these classes, will look into them now though!

    1. Hi Margie! Love these examples of deep editing. Very powerful, and in so few words. Much stronger and a heck-of-a-lot-more-interesting! (Yeah, I love the run-on sentences, too!) I'm saving up to take your class. Thanks for sharing, and extra thanks to WITS for hosting you today.

      1. Hello Jaye!

        Thanks for chiming in. Great to meet you.

        Deep Editing powers writing power. 🙂

        I look forward to working with you in an online class. We'll dig deep, and have fun. 😉

    2. Hello Kelly --

      If you haven't taken any of my courses, start with the EMPOWERING CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS lecture packet. It's the first of my BIG THREE courses.

      I teach those three month-long courses in January, February, and March. But the lecture packets are available through my web site.

      If you have questions, contact me from my home page.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  5. Margie! When the-house-that-hosted-Margie sells, I plan to visit the mountain. The stager made me remove my Margie Lawson Slept Here sign. Curses!

    My writing MoJo needs a jolt of Margie Magic.

    Laura, I L-O-V-E your signature PBRrider opening. We must get together when you're in Texas. [Notes to self: Sweep couches for change, and hide all bull semen before Laura arrives.] Those are powerful writing examples, my friend.

    Joan, of Woo Hoo U fame and fortune. I am thrilled, in awe, and feeling like a turtle when I see your accomplishments since our IMC class. That said, you got to soak up more Margie magic than the rest of us because of your lies about need to sit in the front to avoid car sickness.

    I am tempted to sign up for the New (!) Margie class on stellar openings. But, if I revisit my opening one more time, I'll never get this book finished.

    Ditto on Laura's ...do your writing a favor.... When you're writing, you'll forever after think, "what would Margie do?"

    If the examples didn't rock your writing world, scroll back up and read about Laura, Joan, and Julie's success since becoming Margie Grads.

    Special hugs to you and Tiffany and that precious little granddaughter of yours.

      1. Laura, I'm in the Southlake, Westlake, Keller area west of DFW airport. Oh, fiddlesticks. I'll send Tweety Bird with a DM on where I'm located.

        I hope you treat her like a carrier pigeon and bring her back on your motorcycle. Woot! Would love to meet you in person.

    1. Hello Glooooooria!
      So fun to teach back-to-back Immersion classes at your house. Great house, great hostess, great writers, great times!
      Your writing is so fresh and fun. Get that book finished and query, query, query!

  6. I've purchased several of your lecture packets. They've been incredibly helpful. I'm definitely signing up to take your new class in August.

  7. I own four of your lecture packets, but haven't been able to take an actual class yet. I really think that a great book needs beautiful writing rather than just an exciting plot, which is why I love what you teach.

    1. Oh, Marcy, I have a few of the lecture packets but also took a couple of online courses AND had the great fortune to do a day workshop. Take an online class!! Just make sure you have nothing else happening that month. 🙂

    1. Hey Shauna --
      I'm so proud of Laura Drake! Laura's smooth and empowered writing sold seven books before the first book was released. Editors know her strong writing will sell her books. Stellar writing sells!

  8. Wow...I'm inspired! The examples posted are all so refreshing and seemingly effortless that you know they were anything but. However, as you say, it's effort well rewarded. I want my readers to open my book and have to tear themselves away when they've turned the last page, smiling in satisfaction. And then opening my next book. I'm sure I'll register for at least one of your golden keys to success very soon. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Hello Ruthie --
      Glad this post inspired you!
      If you have questions about my courses, please feel free to contact me through my web site.
      Thanks for chiming in!

  9. Powerful examples. I must say they left me a little frightened if I were to win. Not easy - but that's how we improve, right? Love the donations for Diabetes, such an important cause, there will be a cure.

    1. Marlene, I was terrified going in to my first class. And since I was so intimidated, I signed up for 2. 🙂 But wow! I'm following Pamela's lead and asking for another class for Mother's Day.

    2. Marlene --
      Frightened? Aack!
      My lectures are loaded with examples, analyses, and teaching points. Fun learning opps! If you have questions about my courses, contact me through my web site.

      Hope to see you online!

    1. Hellooooooooo Orly!

      So glad I got to meet you hug-to-hug in Bethesda. I had the best time presenting a full day for WRW. Smart writers!

      I can't wait to crank your creativity in an Immersion class!

      Want to host an Immersion class in the Bethesda area? This year, I have Immersion classes in Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Whidbey Island -- and on my Colorado mountain top too. 🙂

  10. I am close to the end of my WIP, so tips on how to make the writing pop are timely for me, too. I will have to check out Margie's classes. Thanks!

    1. You really should, Melissa. Laura converted me to a Margie follower. It's made a huge difference in my writing. There's a lot of "What would Margie say to this" in our critiques.

    2. Melissa ---
      Great! You'll probably want to pursue my lecture packets for my BIG THREE courses: Empowering Characters' Emotions, Deep Editing, and Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist. I teach those courses in January, February, and March.
      If you have questions, please contact me through my web site. Thank you!

  11. Great examples. And setting them apart as you did really highlights the steller parts. 🙂 As one of Laura's crit partners I've seen her grow very quickly into a wonderful writer. This is a very inspirational blog.

  12. Hi Margie:

    Your post always inspire. I'm counting the days til May 6th, A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop.

    Congrats on the new grand.

    1. Hey Yolanda --

      Yay! I'll get to work with you in Make Your Openings Pop!

      I'm loving every minute with my itty-bitty granddaughter. Scout is six weeks old, and just hit eight pounds. Such a joy!

    1. Pamela --

      Ah -- You'll treat yourself to MAKE YOUR OPENINGS POP for Mother's Day!

      Smart, smart, smart!

      Hmm --- An Immersion class would make a cool Christmas gift. 🙂

      Hope to see you at RWA National this year.

  13. Hi Margie!

    Oh, man, have I missed your kick-in-the-writing-butt posts and lectures! 🙂 Thank you for sharing these stellar examples from Laura, Joan, Julie & Robin. It's always so, so inspiring to read fantastically fresh writing from other Margie grads. Keeps the rest of us on our toes.

    See ya in August! 😀

    1. Hellooooo Mel!

      Miss you, miss you, miss you -- and your Immersion sisters! Can't wait to stretch your brains again in an Advanced Immersion class! Only 3 1/2 more months!

      You are all uber-talented. Can't wait to feature each one of you on my Pubbed Margie-Grad blog!

  14. Hi Margie~ I pulled my head out of my WIP (which I was Margie-cising) to visit the blog--Imagine my surprise . Loved all the examples (not just mine) which is why I'm a serial Margie Lawson class taker--No matter how many times I've taken Deep Edits (3 or 4 times now, not to mention all the rest) I always feel like a car going in for a much needed tune-up. When I come out of your class, I'm running full throttle on all cylinders, and feel as if I've been detailed. Off to let more people know about the blog "...go check out this blog and I'm not just saying that because she put the opening few paragraphs of Back To You in it." You sure make it difficult to pimp you without making it look as if I'm showing off.

      1. Every time I take her classes, I come out of it writing sharper, fresher material. It's so easy to get lazy and not even realize it. Margie's classes, no matter how many times I've taken them, make me work harder and empower my scenes which makes for a better book. 🙂

      2. Orly --

        Lots of writers take my classes multiple times.

        NYT Bestseller Allison Brennan was in my first Empowering Characters' Emotions course -- 2 1/2 years before her first book was published. It hit the NYT list, and so have all her subsequent books. Allison has taken several of my online courses several times. And posts assignments. Love her commitment to excellence!

    1. Celebratory Hugs to Robin Kaye!

      I remember sitting with you at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat (2006?) -- when you won the contest that launched you into print, and multiple contracts. Now you have NINE books out. I'm soooo proud of you, your talent, and your success!

      It's always my big-time joy to work with you, online and in Immersion class.

      Looking forward to seeing you this summer!

      1. Margie- It was 2006! Wow, we've been friends for seven years and you've helped me improve my writing immeasurably. I've always said your class is the reason I'm published, which is why I'm a serial Margie class taker or a Margie stalker depending how you look at it. Looking forward to seeing you this summer!

  15. Hi Margie! Great post with a wonderful selection of examples. I love Laura Drake's sentence - so much emotion, understated yet brimming over with feeling!

    1. Edith --

      Writing can be smooth and carry so much power that it steals your heart.

      Laura Drake and lots of other pubbed Margie-grads learned how to dig deep and add psychological power to their writing.

      Deep editing takes writing from good to stellar.

  16. Hi, Margie! More great goodies. Loved your examples. Thanks to Robin Kaye for letting me know about this post!

  17. Hi, Margie!
    I've taken a couple of your online classes and they dramatically improved my writing (though I'm still evolving - it never ends, does it?). Thanks so much!
    Kirsten Weiss

    1. Hello Kirsten --
      Thank you! Glad you strengthened your writing!
      Hope to see you in one of my new courses. I share lots more ways to add psychological power. 🙂

    2. Hello Kirsten --

      Great to e-see you again.

      Ah -- DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED your writing. Excellent!

      Hope you come back to learn more ways to strengthen your writing!

  18. Wow. I've been hearing about the power of Margie Lawson's classes at VFRW meetings since I joined the group a little over a year ago and I'm grateful to Robin Kaye for sharing a link to this blog via our email loop. As a serial class-taker who avoids her WIP by convincing herself she needs to learn just one more thing before it will all come together, I have resisted the urge to check out Margie's website and peruse her course offerings. Until now.

    1. Hello Andi!
      Great to e-meet you!
      Your comment carries power. Especially the last two words -- Until now.
      It will be fun to work with you in an online class!

      1. I'm starting off with one of your lecture packets -- "Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors" -- and based on what I've seen so far in Lecture 1, it's highly likely that an online class with you is in my future!

    1. Hello BRR!
      Ha! I surprised you with two new Margie classes!
      I enjoyed working with you online, and in Immersion class. Looking forward to stretching your brain again!

  19. Hi Margie!
    I attended your workshop with the Washington Romance Writer's last fall and it was amazing! I'm at work so I can't spend much time online but I've printed this post out and can't wait to read it later!


    1. Hello Kerri!
      Ah ... I love WRW! Let me know when you all are ready for one of my Advanced Full Day Master Classes! It would be so fun to work with you all again.

  20. Inspiring examples...and on a day when I have to go to work. Very possible I won't be sleeping tonight. Margie, THANKS for the information and Jenny THANKS for another great blog

    1. Mona --
      I hope your dreams will filled with fresh writing!
      If you have questions about my online courses and lecture packets, feel free to contact me through my web site.
      Thanks for chiming in!

  21. Margie, always fabulous to see you and love your advice. I'm proudly a Margie Grad, and owe your insight to helping me in my career. Thank YOU! Love your examples. I appreciate your taking the time to make such a positive difference in so many lives, and helping writers achieve their dream! *Hugs*
    God bless,
    Diana Cosby

    1. Hellooooooooooooo Bestselling Author, Margie-grad, and Friend, Diana Cosby!

      BLOG GUESTS -- Diana Cosby's writing is stellar and OMG NYT Stellar!

      If you don't know Diana Cosby's name, drop by her web site. Diana is the INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.

      Diana's writing and characters and stories are so good, her books hooked me. And I don't typically read Scottish medievals. 🙂

      Diana attended the first full day (actually two full days) master class that I presented for writers. At that time Diana was not contracted.

      Virginia Romance Writers took a chance on me. A few of them had taken my first online class. Since then VRW brought me in two more times to present full days. Fabulous writers. Fabulous people too.

      Take a minute and click over to Diana Cosby's web site. Get a glimpse of her writing world now!

      BLOG GUESTS -- Keep pushing hard to write fresh! You could become an international bestseller too!

      DIANA -- Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for your kind words.

      HIS SEDUCTION will be released August 15th. I'm teaching an Immersion class that week. I'll get you scheduled on my Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog the week of Aug. 21st.

      Big hugs to Diana!

  22. Margie, I can't say enough about your classes and the wonderful results you get from the writers who let you teach them. I was so fortunate that Laura Drake gifted me your packets and that set the tone forme to tak your Advanced Editing class.

    I may never get to the mountain, but your voice lives with me and your teaching methods not only helped with my work, it helped my BETA reader. (I taught her your color codes for editing) Now we use that often to help each other.

    Congrats to all who were sited, but a special thanks to Laura Drake ... for being a great friend, for getting through the tunnel and holding up the light for so many of us ... for believing in me when I had lost my way. You're a talented, tough broad and I love that you are living your dream.

    Thanks to Margie and as always ... thanks WITS for the best group blog in cyber space 🙂

    1. Hello Ramblings!
      Great to see you here! Glad the lecture packets and Advanced Editing course made you smile!
      Hope I get to meet you in person someday. 🙂

  23. I enjoyed these examples of stellar writing but the best part of this post was Margie's analysis of each. Now I feel like I have several elements to look for when I consider why a passage grabs my attention next time.

    1. Louise --
      Thank you! Glad those short deep editing analyses resonated with you.

      Remember - those are just itty-bitty bites of a few deep editing dishes from my coast-to-coast smorgasbord. 🙂

  24. Every time I read anything Margie offers, I learn more and more! Such amazing advice on how to set stories apart and make them sing. I will be a Margie fanatic forever 😉

    1. Kimberly --

      Ah -- I'm smiling!

      I'm so glad I met you in the bar at national last year! I had fun with you then, and at my WF workshop at national, and at my full day master class for WRW in November. It's past time for us to get together again. See you at national in Atlanta? See you in an Immersion class in 2014? 🙂

  25. I agree that stellar writing (OMG NYT-worthy) is a must to holding readers' interest. It's certainly true for me when I read for pleasure. I'd love to take one of your classes. Please include me in your contest. Thank you for your blog post and your visit!


  26. Hi Margie
    This "Stellar Writing Sells" article is so clear, so succinct, so fantastic! I love the examples, and am even more impressed by all the comments left by those who have been already privileged to attend your courses. Colour me green! 🙂 Thanks for your wonderful input into our personal creativity.

    1. Hello Audrey --
      Kudos to you for using ANAPHORA in your comment!
      Love your style and your enthusiasm.
      Hope I get to work with you in an online class sometime!

    1. Helloooooooo Ally!

      Great to see you again. Last time we connected was in Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist -- a year ago. Right?

      Can't wait to work with you again in MAKE YOUR OPENINGS POP!

      See you online on May 6th!

  27. I've been through two packets of Margie's and a third course by online class. Happily, I'm signed up for an immersion class soon.

    As to the examples here, I won an advanced reading copy of SWEET SPOT by Laura Drake...and it is GOOD. Definitely fresh writing and characterization. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Oh, my gosh, Margie. It only took this blog, with the examples of electric writing, for me to realize how much I need refreshing. It's back to one of your classes for me! See you on the website soon.
    And for anyone considering an Immersion Class, do it. You won't regret the experience.

  29. Hi Margie! I've taken one of your online classes and have two additional lecture packets, all of which I'm trying to assimilate. I have a Margie-sized ms. out on submission right now and still waiting. It's so hard. How do I know if I've truly assimilated and applied the lessons? *sigh*. I'd sure love to do an immersion class sometime. Do you move around or is it always at your place?

    1. Hello Macswriter --

      This year, I'm teaching Immersion classes in Dallas (2), Atlanta (2), Columbus, and on Whidbey Island. I also have six more Immersion classes in Colorado this year. Four are full. I just added two more to my fall schedule.

      I'm in the process of planning my Immersion class schedule for 2014. If you would like to chat about hosting an Immersion class, contact me through my web site.

      Thanks for asking!

  30. Margie, your examples make my heart sing with the possibilities. I will be getting some of those lecture packets and an online course, if I'm lucky!

    1. Mary --

      Easy to find gems in books by multi-Margie-grads!

      FYI: I found hundreds of gems in those four books. I sticky tab examples in hard copy books, and highlight examples in ebooks. My lectures and powerpoints are loaded with examples and analyses and teaching points.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  31. Wow! Love those examples. Really makes me think about deep POV and deep editing. Now if I just had more time to write. . .

  32. Margie, you picked well. I want to read all the books you used as examples. Thanks for the great post.

  33. Wonderful examples. Love how they gripped me! I'm due for another Margie Lawson class. 🙂

  34. Hi Margie, I always love your posts. And just wanted to say that I saw you speak a while back and bought a few of your lecture packets right before writing my second published book. That book (Melt Into You) is now a RITA finalist for Best Contemporary Romance (the first erotic romance to ever breakthrough in that category.) So thank you for your brilliant lectures! Your techniques have definitely impacted how I write. : )

  35. Hi Margie and thank you for this post! I saw the e-mail in my inbox and noticed your name and knew I had to read it. I took one of your online classes maybe two years ago and somewhere on my computer I have the information but cannot find it. Now I'm wondering which class would be the best for me to take at this point. I'll have to e-mail you off this loop.
    Thank you for the great examples.

  36. Hey, Margie, and WITS folks. What awesome examples. And here I thought I'd learned so much last summer going through your packets and then making it to the Mountain last fall. Lucky me! Because of all that work, my first book comes out in July. Thanks, Margie! Have you noticed we all use some variation of what you do to our work? I call it "margie-izing." But after reading the examples,I am reminded we can't rest on our laurels (cliche alert!--you know I love'em, Margie LOL), so it looks like the August course will fit my time best. WITS thanks for having Margie and all your other excellent posts to help writers. Margie, thanks for being you. Enjoy that grandbaby and pet your two sweet poochies for me. 🙂 Oh and give you hubby a hug, too. He's so cool with all of us on your moutain top.

  37. Hi Margie!
    Great post! And I just learned a new thing from you again - the hyphenated-run-on-sentence thing is very cool!
    Your August class is suddenly very tempting to me! I miss your great classes!
    Marie-Claude 🙂

  38. Hi, Margie! - thanks for the excellent examples. Fascinating to get so much visualization from just a few sentences.

  39. Hi Margie-
    Very thought provoking blog. It makes me realize that my stuff now reminds me of milquetoast instead of Habanero dip. I'll go over my writing to think of stronger, evocative words and phrases.
    Thank you, Carol

  40. Thank you for the powerful examples and comments. I liked all of them, but Joan Swann's made my skin crawl! I will definitely look into these classes.

  41. Thank you so much for those great examples, Margie. I read them all carefully - always so many learnings. I really enjoyed my Margie Immersion in April and took away so much. Very much worth the trip.

  42. Inspiring as always, Margie! And congrats again on the grand daughter…grandbabies are the best! 🙂 I’d love to be entered for a chance to win your new course. Can’t wait for the auction to start. I put in an undercover spy kit along with an upcoming release, but…oooh, the ones you mentioned sound like major bidding wars will ensue!!!

  43. Hi Margie,
    I wish I lived in your guest room year around. 🙂 I'm going to sign up for your new class. Your examples today are fabulous.


  44. Hi Margie,
    Thanks for a great post. I love reading stellar writing from your grads. They are so talented.
    I can't wait to work with you again in Make Your Openings Pop workshop and Immersion. This May is Margie Month. <-- I used Alliteration 🙂
    Laura, I love the examples from your writing and I will have to check out The Sweet Spot when it comes out. Thanks for hosting Margie.

  45. I bought a few of Margie's lecture packets. They are awesome - great for people wanting to get a taste of her teaching style before diving into a more expensive class. I took one class at "The Academy" taught by Shirley Jump and learned so much. I felt like I had a direct line of thought into her head and suddenly, amazing sentences were popping out onto my pages, my writing breathed with a life of it's own. I've been saving up to take more classes - once you take one you want them all! Thanks Margie for guest posting and thanks WITS for having her here!

  46. Hi, Margie! Thanks for all these wonderful examples of great writing. I am especially impressed by your comments regarding psychologically empowering work. Too much is written (and filmed) these days that does not satisfy psychologically. It's refreshing and heartening to see a writing instructor who has not forgotten the importance of this. Would I be correct in thinking that you value cartharsis, too?

  47. Hi, Margie.
    Rats, I really want to take that August class, but my book releases that month. Eeep! Any chance you'll be offering it again later in the year? Best to Tiffany, Tom and new baby!

  48. Hi Margie,
    Just had to check in and be inspired again by your wonderful examples of fresh writing. In the morning if I sit very still and close my eyes, I'm still on your mountain.

  49. You chose some great examples, Margie. As usual, these sentences are killer. Makes me want to pull out my Margie notes and re-scan, reload, and rejuvenate my writing. Someday I'll be back for Immersion 2, currently hoping for 2014!

  50. Darn it, Margie! Why'd you have to do that? My To-Be-Read pile is already threatening to topple over and crush me in my sleep. Now you've got me wanting to add to it with these authors. And that's not the first time you've done that. However, I must say my local Barnes & Noble and my American Express card thank you for those recommendations. Can't wait to see you at RWA!

  51. Hi, Margie! Just stopping by to read the blog and say hello. How's Scout? Hope all is going well. I'm using all the knowledge I've acquired in your courses over the past 3 months to get my MS ready to pitch in June. Thanks again for your wonderful classes. And they set me up with a great EP as well. 🙂

  52. Hi Margie!

    I really missed your classes this April and can't wait to start back up again! You classes have taught me so much, and my writing is really growing because of them. Plus, I met the best ep's in the world thanks to you!

  53. I really enjoyed revisiting Robin Kaye's opening and the other examples. I pulled out my notes and lecture packets from both your online classes and Immersion, and was wowed by the insight and inspired yet again. It's like watching a great movie over and over and over, and catching something new every time. I'm pumped to get back to my work in progress and empower my words to the Stellar level.

  54. Hi Margie,
    I always tell people how great your classes are Margie Lawson is synonymic with NYT! Every time I read a blog or post or go back through "class" notes, I feel newly empowered. Now-a-days when I write, I don't have to concentrate on what I have learned, It just seems to hit the page. What is really cool is when I go back to read a scene I have just written, I am astounded that I actually wrote it. Everything I have learned I owe to ROBIN KAYE, because she pointed her finger at me and ORDERED me to take your classes, I was afraid of her. I still am.

    Now go hug that grand baby!
    Warm regards,
    DeBORah Villegas

  55. Margie, I'm always intrigued with your popularity. It took forever to scroll down to post my comments. Thanks for the wonderful writing examples and tips you shared on the blog. As always, you inspire me to learn the craft and become a better writer.
    We are so excited about you coming to RWA in Atlanta this year. I'm looking forward to seeing you and perhaps some new pics of the grandbaby. 🙂

  56. Margie
    As always your posts inspire me to dig deeper for the emotion, that visceral response that grips a half way engaged reader and turned them into an avid-cant-put-the-book-down reader.

    Glad to know you're enjoying your new grandbaby. They are precious.

  57. Hi Margie,

    I loved sentence #3. It grabs the emotion of the sentence in such a fresh way!!! I'd love to learn how to do that better! 🙂


  58. Your examples and comments are eye-openers. And I'm thrilled to see the support you're giving to Brenda Novak's auction. I was a lucky winner of a flying weekend, and I know how fabulous your teaching is.

  59. Just want to say, bonus that you are enjoying your granddaughter and welcome back Margie! Your lecture notes revolutionised my writing - waiting for you to come back to Australia so I can do a workshop f2f.

  60. Hi Margie,

    I would love to take one of your courses and work emotions back into my discarded wip. I've heard so much about your Deep Editing courses and always lurk around reading about all the courses you offer on your website.

  61. Very late in coming in - but thanks so much, Margie. As always you've picked brilliant examples and explained them into many 'ah-ha!' moments. Thanks!


    Wow! Lots of action on this blog!

    Thank you all for taking the time to read Stellar Writing Sells!

    A lovey THANK YOU to Writer's in the Storm for inviting me to be their guest. I always have the best time on WitS!

    I hope you all drop by web sites for Joan Swan, Robin Kaye, Julie Kibler, and Laura Drake.
    And I'm so proud of them, and of all my pubbed Margie-grads.

    If you want to read more great examples and deep editing analyses, check out the Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog on my web site. Lots of learning opportunities!

    Now -- to announce the WINNER!

    I use random.org to select the winner.

    The lucky person who wins an online class from me is ..............Patricia Yager Delagrange!

    Patricia -- Please email me. If you like, I'll enroll you in my new class, A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop!

    Thank you again for being here. I wish you all amazing writing success!

  63. Hi Margie,

    Sorry I'm late to the party 🙁 But I'm SO happy to get a healthy dose of Margie today. It's better than a Red Bull to my muse 🙂

    I did have a question about punctuating those hyphenated run-on, made up words. I noticed the one above had quotation marks around it. I haven't been doing that--just the hyphens. What do you suggest?

    Miss you...take care 🙂

  64. Incredible examples and powerful advice, Margie! It is my goal, as a writer, to keep my readers turning the page, throwing domestic duties and even meals to the wind for just one more paragraph:)

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