It'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.
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:
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
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
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.
BRENDA NOVAK’S DIABETES AUCTION!
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.
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.