Writers in the Storm

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June 25, 2014

Margie’s Rule # 3: Lock in the Emotional Set

Margie Lawson

If you are an NCIS fan, you know about Jethro Gibbs’ fifty-plus rules. I want to be as cool as Jethro Gibbs. This blog features my third Margie-Rule for writers.

Margie’s Rule # 3: Lock in the Emotional Set

My term, Emotional Set, refers to the mood of the scene. Writers know the emotional set of their POV character in each scene, but they need to be sure they slip it in each scene a variety of times, in different ways, for the reader. Everything should support the emotional set of that scene.

How can you show the reader the emotional set?

  • Body Language
  • Dialogue Cues
  • Visceral Responses
  • Action
  • Internalizations – thoughts, narrative, exposition
  • Themed Words – especially in description, setting, thoughts, and dialogue

We’ll look at the first three: body language, dialogue cues, and visceral responses.


Body Language:

Most writers use body language, and more, to share their characters’ emotional sets. They may rely on overused (clichéd) facial expressions, gestures, movements, and postures. Aack! Those read-it-before, said-it-before phrases invite the reader to skim, skim, skim.

This example includes a visceral response, body language, and a power internalization with a fun hyphenated-run-on.

Chasing Luck, by Brinda Berry, Multi-Margie-grad, 4 time Immersion-grad, three paragraphs

My stomach flutters like a moth caught in a jar.

His gaze sweeps down my body. Those twin dimples of danger match eyes that I swear can see through my clothes.

And I almost melt into a pool of girly goo. Jerk. Totally gorgeous-beyond-words jerk.

What did Brinda Berry do to make that piece work?

She started by giving a stomach-based visceral response two fresh twists. Moth, not butterfly. And this moth is caught in a jar.

In the second paragraph she added three hits of body language (gaze, dimples, eyes). And she amplified with an internalization we’ve seen before, but she makes it work because she amplified even more with a third paragraph. A big time amplified reaction, a fun teenage-girl themed piece with an approach-avoidance twist.

If you’re getting the idea that amplifying with fresh writing is a good thing, you’re thinking right.

Here are two smile-based sentences from Chasing Luck:

JT takes a sip of red wine and relaxes into his you're-being-unreasonable smile.

Hyphenated-run-ons make that smile unique. Easy to know his emotional set.

He hesitates and his sad smile reaches across the table to trap my breath.

Brinda Berry made that sad smile a stimulus that impacts the POV character. Smart!

Dialogue Cues:

If you’re not a Margie-grad, you may be wondering about the term Dialogue Cues. It’s a subset I carved out of dialogue tags. Dialogue Cues share the subtext of the dialogue. They cue the reader regarding the psychological message shared in how the character says the dialogue.


Cloaked In Danger, Jeannie Ruesch, Multi-Margie-grad, Immersion-grad

The words flew out like desperate birds, and Aria clamped her lips shut to keep any more from escaping.

His voice had grown thick, a deep caress that sent tingles up her arms. He remembered, too.

When You Are Mine, Kennedy Ryan-- Her debut novel was just released June 17, 2014, Multi-Margie-grad, Immersion-grad.

Oh, no. You just missed the last bus.” The girl’s voice was husky-hot and sweet. Honey burned to a crisp.

Jo used her don’t-play-a-player voice on him. “He’s going to propose again.”

The next example has a character whisper, but Kennedy Ryan amplified that basic dialogue cue with a power internalization featuring a cliché twist. Powerful and fresh.

“You’re in love with Cam,” Walsh whispered, awestruck that he had been so close for so long and never seen it. It was skywritten all over his cousin’s face

What if Kennedy Ryan hadn’t amplified? What if she hadn’t worked harder? What if she hadn’t given the reader anything fresh?

Here’s what she could have written:

  “You’re in love with Cam,” Walsh whispered.

Umm. Yep. Kennedy Ryan’s fresh writing deepened characterization for the non-POV character and for the POV character too. And it gave the reader a boost.

The Last Breath, Kimberly Belle -- Her debut novel will be released Sept. 30, 2014, Multi-Margie-grad, 4 time Immersion-grad

“Lexi.” My tone is weighed down with enough warning to sink a ship. “Don’t even think about bailing.”

Cal’s tone has cooled by a thousand degrees, and I hear a new note in it, one that sounds strangely like relief.

Fresh dialogue cues!

See how those dialogue cues inform the reader about that character’s emotional set?

Visceral Responses:

Visceral responses are emotionally triggered, involuntary, physical responses experienced by the POV character. Responses like hearts pounding, stomachs clenching, vision narrowing.

If the writer slips a few visceral responses in emotionally charged scenes, they take the scene from the POV character’s head, and the reader’s head, to the reader’s heart. In a well written scene, the visceral responses on the page may give the reader a visceral response.

The Last Breath, Kimberly Belle -- Her debut novel will be released Sept. 30, 2014, Multi-Margie-grad, 4 time Immersion-grad

No. My heart races, and every tiny hair soldiers to attention on the back of my neck, commanding me to run. Never again. No.

Her words zap me like a Taser, temporarily paralyzing my heart, my lungs, my conviction Lexi would do the right thing.

The last example used the rhetorical device anaphora. Powerful content, powerful cadence.

Nothing Sweeter, Laura Drake, Multi-Margie-grad, Immersion-grad, released January, 2014

“Well screw you both and your puffed-up male egos. I am so sick of caveman attitudes.” Her jaw locked so tight, the roots of her teeth ached. She was pissed that she had to fight tears. And even more pissed because she couldn’t stop them. Bolts of emotions cracked like lightning in her mind: anger, guilt, failure. Disappointment. Another lost opportunity.

Sweet On You, Laura Drake, Multi-Margie-grad, Immersion-grad, to be released August, 2014

The next example looks so easy to write. But writers know the sentence below required some brain cells. It carries cadence and impact.

Her heart stumbled, then double-timed, a hammer against her ribs.

Right? That sentence is simple, and stellar.

Here’s another simple-looking sentence.

A knife of homesickness slid between his ribs, hitting near his heart.

Wow. Laura Drake got me.

Katya jerked, and before she could control her body, she was crouched under the table, sweat popping in her armpits and her heart hammering like the piston of a redlined engine.

Katya is having a PTSD reaction, and Laura gives us a clear visual and a strong visceral reaction.

She played off a hammering heart, but she empowered the reaction and amplified that visceral response which made it carry power.

Deep Edit Analysis:

  • Katya jerked – Physical reaction
  • and before she could control her body -- Power Internalization
  •  she was crouched under the table – Strong visual
  •  sweat popping in her armpits -- Visceral Reaction
  •  and her heart hammering –Visceral Reaction
  •  like the piston of a redlined engine – Amplified simile. It’s amplified with the power word, redlined.

Laura could have written: Katya started sweating and her heart hammered like a piston.

Kudos to Laura Drake for working harder. She definitely locked in the emotional set!

Chasing Luck, by Brinda Berry, Multi-Margie-grad, 4 time Immersion-grad

I stare up at him, confused, unable to move or breathe. My heart picks up speed in way that usually occurs on the second mile of a run.

There’s a moment of panic that rises in my stomach like a bad meal, but I look at Ace and he smiles. The panic settles and disappears.

He's staring at me like he can actually hear the blood rushing in firehose-volume to my heart.

The bass ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum of my heartbeat booms in my head.

Each of those examples carries power. She added a fresh element. A fresh image. A fresh sound.

Enjoy this empowered example from When You Are Mine, by Kennedy Ryan.

She fumbled through rebuttoning her jacket, fingers shaking. She closed her eyes for a few erratic heartbeats, struggling to rein in her body’s response. She was a running engine slowly cooling down.

Stellar writing! The imagery, content, cadence, and simile help lock in the emotional set for the reader.

The Last Breath, Kimberly Belle -- Her debut novel will be released Sept. 30, 2014, Multi-Margie-grad, 4 time Immersion-grad.

No. My heart races, and every tiny hair soldiers to attention on the back of my neck, commanding me to run. Never again. No.

The same caution about using overused phrases applies to dialogue cues and visceral responses. Same-old, same-old doesn’t Velcro the reader to the read. Smart to push harder and write fresh.

Kimberly Belle deepened the emotional set with two visceral responses. Both visceral responses are common, but she paired them, and she freshened the hair-on-back-of-neck visceral in two ways. She gave it a boost of freshness with ‘soldiers to attention’ and she used that visceral as a stimulus for the command to run. She added two short frags that empowered content and cadence.

Check out another example from Kimberly Belle.

Her words zap me like a Taser, temporarily paralyzing my heart, my lungs, my conviction Lexi would do the right thing.

The last example used the rhetorical device anaphora. Again -- powerful content, powerful cadence.

And then I remember something else. Something that shoots a shiver up my spine and slams my heart to a standstill.

This example from Kimberly Belle has two paragraphs, for fun.

 “Gia, I…I have something I need to tell you before you make that promise.”

My stomach does a slow flip-flop that’s not entirely pleasant. “Is this the part where you tell me you’re married, or that you used to be a woman?”

Ah! Love that humor hit!

Some emotional story triggers are huge, and the writer needs to provide an empowered response. The following paragraph from Kimberly Belle is loaded with visceral responses. Trust me. This amplified response is needed. It has a big trigger.

My adrenaline suddenly spikes, smashing my anger instinct out of its paralysis. A cold ball of fury forms in my belly, pushing at my throat, putting down roots in my organs, snaking through my veins, growing and pulsing with life. I feel it swirl inside me, and somewhere in the very back closet of my mind, I acknowledge relief that it’s rage, rather than grief, gripping me by the guts. At least my anger, even as sharp as it is, feels like it’s holding me together rather than ripping me apart.

Look at all that power! The reader feels this character’s emotions. The emotional set is locked in and powered up.

Visceral Responses:

  • My adrenaline suddenly spikes
  • A cold ball of fury forms in my belly, pushing at my throat, putting down roots in my organs, snaking through my veins, growing and pulsing with life.
  • I feel it swirl inside me
  • gripping me by the guts.

The rest of the phrases and sentences in that paragraph are Power Internalizations.

I’ll share one more example from When You Are Mine, byKennedy Ryan. Enjoy this power internalization featuring a cliché twist.

“You’re in love with Cam,” Walsh whispered, awestruck that he had been so close for so long and never seen it. It was skywritten all over his cousin’s face

Wow! All those examples from Margie-grads make me proud!

If you some of these examples grabbed you, tweet or FB the authors, and post a comment below. They’ll all stop by the blog. Let them know they wowed you!

One more point about clichés. Reviewers notice clichés too.


Post a comment and you could win an online course from Lawson Writer’s Academy!

Check out the courses we’re offering in July, August, and September

1. Story Starters, Instructor: Koreen Myers

2. Battling the Basics, Instructor: Sarah Hamer

3. Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts, Instructor: Margie Lawson

4. Self-Editing Your Manuscript, Instructor: Kathy Ide

5. 30 Days to a Stronger Novel, Instructor: Lisa Wells

6. Fab 30: Advanced Deep Editing, A Master Class, Instructor: Margie Lawson

7. From Good to Sold, Instructor: Shirley Jump

8. Story Structure Safari, Instructor: Lisa Miller

9. From Blah to Beats: Giving Chapters a Pulse, Instructor: Rhay Christou

10. Creating Reader’s Guides for Young Adult and Middle Grade Books, Instructor: Koreen Myers

11. The Hero’s Journey in YA Fiction, Instructors: Jennifer McAndrews and Linda Gerber

12. Writing a Synopsis that Helps You Sell! Instructor: Jennifer Archer

See you on the blog!

All smiles................Margie

Margie LawsonMargie Lawson —psychotherapist, editor, and international presenter – teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. Margie has presented over eighty full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches with taking their writing several levels higher—to publication, awards, and bestseller lists.    

To learn about Lawson Writer’s Academy, Margie’s 4-day Immersion Master Classes (in Colorado, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, San Antonio, Houston, and on Whidbey Island), her full day Master Class presentations, keynote speeches, on-line courses, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit www.MargieLawson.com.







102 comments on “Margie’s Rule # 3: Lock in the Emotional Set”

    1. Laura --

      Your writing gives me visceral responses!

      Your books are loaded with hundreds of strong examples I could use. And that's not hyperbole!

      Keep digging deep into deep editing. Your hard work is serving you well. RITA FINALIST!

      Can't wait to see you in San Antonio!

  1. I really enjoyed reading all of the snippets! Thanks, Margie, for providing so many wonderful examples of fresh writing. I try to keep your advice/guidance in mind as I write and definitely as I revise.

    1. Betty --

      I enjoy all that fresh writing too!

      Are you one of the Bettys from my online classes? If not, you're missing mountains of deep editing systems,techniques, and tips!

    1. Manju --

      Ah -- You write Middle Grade. No MG examples in this post, but I have MG and YA examples in my lectures.

      One of my Margie-Grads launches a MG series next month. Look for The XYZs of Being Wicked by Lara Chapman. It's fabulous!

      Lara was a RITA finalist for her YA novel, FLAWLESS.

      Lara Chapman's writing is strong. She's a three-time Immersion Master Class grad.

      BTW, I'm sure I haven't seen your cool name in my online classes. Maybe I'll see you in my Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts class in August!

    1. Paula --
      Ah! The dialogue cues got you. Great!

      Did you take my Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist class? It's loaded with examples and deep edit analyses and teaching points!

      I teach it again in March. But the lectures are available all the time in a Lecture Packet through Paypal from my website. Now you know. 🙂

      Have fun adding fresh power to your WIP!

  2. Margie,
    When I'm editing my wip I always hear your voice in my ear reminding me to add emotion. It's kind of like a mini you is sitting on my shoulder. 🙂
    Great refresher post. Thanks so much.

    1. Bonnie --

      Glad I'm on your shoulder pushing you to write fresh emotion and rhetorical devices and body language and dialogue cues, and avoid cliches, avoid telling tags, avoid linear load issues... I could chatter in your ear for weeks!

      I miss you! It's been way too long. Immersion in 2015? I may be doing an Immersion in Chicago next year. I'll let you know!

    1. Hello Chrissy --

      Glad you liked the post and the examples!

      I don't believe I've seen you in any of my online courses. They're loaded with examples and deep editing analyses and teaching points. Hope to see you in one of my online classes sometime!

    1. Lisa --

      You make me smile, and your writing makes me smile too!

      I'm excited about the classes your teaching for Lawson Writer's Academy too! Your new August class, 30 Days to a Stronger Novel, will be uber-strong!

  3. A friend of mine swears by Margie Lawson classes and packets. She's hassling me to get aboard the Margie train. I think I'll grab a boarding pass. This was great info!

    1. Hello CP --

      Please thank your swears-by-Margie's-classes-and-lecture-packets friend for me! Wish I knew your friend's name.

      I hope you grab a boarding pass. For some writers, that boarding pass turns into a contract!

  4. Absolutely fascinating. I've sent it to several friends, especially my co-writer. Thanks Margie for the gut check. Now, I'm going to review my WIP, which is nearly Work Do

    1. Hello rcs1738 --

      Sounds like you've never taken one of my online courses, or ordered the lecture packets. If you'd like to dig deeper into my psychologically based deep editing systems and techniques and tips, drop by my website and click on the Lecture Packets tab at the top.

      I recommend getting the lectures for my Empowering Characters' Emotions course first. Second: Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More.Third: Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist.

      Just a suggestion. 🙂

      Thank you for posting. Hope I see you online again sometime!

  5. WOW! Great tips and examples. Thank you so much for sharing. *Pushes up sleeves, cracks knuckles* Time for a few revisions. My writing only improves when I follow your advice. Have a wonderful day! 😀

    1. Hello Debbie D!

      Ah -- You're digging in. Keep in mind my online courses and lecture packets are loaded with literally hundreds of examples, deep editing analyses, and teaching points. Don't miss learning what you don't know!

    1. Kelly --

      Thank you!

      I can't wait for that Immersion class at Christina's house in Houston in September too!

      An Immersion class filled with Readerlicious bloggers -- and several are Immersion grads. I'll work you all hard, and we'll all love every minute!

  6. Thanks Margie. As writers we do show emotions in our characters but we sometimes forget set the scene with that emotion. This is a great reminder.

  7. Margie, thank you for your insight. Time to put some knee-jerking power into my WIP!

  8. More great examples from your cadre of great graduates. Love your posts. Learn so much I often feel like I've just taken one of your classes. Thanks for another wonderful tutorial, Margie 🙂

    1. Hey Florence!

      I have dozens of incredibly talented Margie-Grads. Wish I could include examples from every grad in every blog.

      You know each of my courses are loaded with 250+ pages of lectures. This blog would be 1/8 of one lecture. 😉

      Glad you loved it!

    1. Hello Ella --

      You couldn't tell by the examples, but I did include some historical examples in the blog. Jeannie Ruesch writes for Carina Press.

      Cloaked In Danger, Jeannie Ruesch, Multi-Margie-grad, Immersion-grad

      The words flew out like desperate birds, and Aria clamped her lips shut to keep any more from escaping.

      His voice had grown thick, a deep caress that sent tingles up her arms. He remembered, too.

      I love those examples! Check out Jeannie's website -- http://jeannieruesch.com/

      I have so many amazingly talented Margie-Grads who write historicals. Here are a few more names:

      -- Elizabeth Essex -- 2012 RITA Finalist

      -- Renee Ryan

      -- Vicky Dreiling

      -- Kieran Kramer

      -- Christine Glover

      -- Tracey Devlyn

      If you haven't read any of those authors, dive in! I bet you'll love their fresh writing!

    1. Hello 4-time Immersion-Grad Kimberly Belle!

      Yay! Seeing your name in the blog gave you a visceral response!

      Your writing is so incredibly fresh and strong and cadence-driven, I know THE LAST BREATH will be the most fabulous launch for your writing career!

      I miss you too. Can't wait to see you in San Antonio!

  9. Perfect timing that I read this post. I have some emotional scenes I have to rev up. I need to take another course. No one teaches fresh writing better than you, Margie. Loved all these examples.

    1. Hello Elaine --

      I'm pretty sure you took my Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues class. If that's the only one you took, you need Empowering Characters' Emotions and my Deep Editing classes next. I don't teach them again until January and February. But you could get the lecture packets any time.

      I'm teaching Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts in August.

      So many more deep editing systems and techniques and tips you don't know about yet. Dive in!

  10. Wow! Awesome post. Your examples are amazing. Such great writing. I'm currently working my way through some of your Deep Editing packets from your web site. They have helped me tremendously. For sure I'll be signing up for one of your on-line classes soon.

    1. Hey Barb --

      Thanks for letting me know you're loving what you're learning in my Deep Editing lecture packet!

      The next online course I teach is -- Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts. I'm teaching the visceral course in August.

      I opened registration for all the August courses today. Check them out!

  11. Love it! Dang, every time I read a post of yours, I remember to get back to my WIPs and dig harder and deeper. Actually, I just remember...what I've been forgetting. Time to get back to your classes!

  12. Can a blog make you smile? Another great blog from Margie, and a whopper of a smile plastered on my face enjoying the dialogue cues from the terrific authors having fun with words and expressing emotions. I finished Marige's Lecture packets 1, 2, and 3. The packets and assignments are hard work, but fun. I loved learning and feel my writing is transformed. Margie's love of "stellar" writing and encouragement for new authors runs through all her lecture packets and blogs.

    1. Hello Beige --

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Your comments made me smile, big time!

      I’m teaching Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts in August. Maybe I'll see you in the August class.

      Hope I get to meet you someday, smile-to-smile and hug-to-hug.

    1. Colette --

      You're allowed to take notes. 🙂

      I used to teach grad school, psychology. My blogs and online courses and Powerpoint presentations are loaded with examples and deep edit analyses and teaching points.

      I encourage you to check out my online courses, and lecture packets for the courses I don't teach again until next year (Empowering Characters' Emotions, Deep Editing, Writing Body Language).

      I developed my deep editing systems and techniques. Hope I see you in my online courses sometime!

    1. Diana, Ever read Harlan Coben? Jeffery Deavers? I could go on, but won't. I also won't defend romance . . . because good writing is good writing. What authors do you admire?

      1. Laura, my answer would be that WITS is for writers who ... excuse the cliche ... weather the storm of our careers and come here to find comfort, information and the courage to write whatever we want. Yeah, Coben, Gerritsen, Agatha ... and who doesn't love Nora?

    2. Diana --

      When I present full day workshops for writers, I always start with a slide showing a huge platter of cookies.

      I say, "Take the cookies that work for you and leave the rest."

      No worries if SOME of the examples didn't work for you.

      Many of my examples in my lectures are from suspense and thriller writers like Joseph Finder, Marcus Sakey, Lisa Unger, Lee Childs, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Robert Crais, Lisa Gardner, Robert B. Parker, T. Jefferson Parker, Mark Sullivan, Dennis Lehane, John Lescroart, Ridley Pearson, and more!

      And I have examples that are just as fresh and empowered as the examples in the blog.

      I promise I'll include examples from a wide variety of genres in my next blog for WITS. If you drop by on August 11th, I bet you'll find more cookies you like.

  13. So many stellar emotional cues, I learn every time I read something from Margie, thank you 🙂 Loved, loved A knife of homesickness slid between his ribs, hitting near his heart. by Laura Drake. Wow, just Wow

  14. Hi Margie!
    Super blog, as always. Thanks for the lovely examples and for showing us why they work. The Laura Drake examples particularly were spectacular.

    1. Hello Angelina --

      Thank you! Ah -- You're a fan of my deep editing analyses. When you have a few free minutes, check out my online courses!

  15. Thanks for this post. It’s just what I need right now! I write psychological thrillers and it becomes quite a challenge sometimes to make my writing fresh. Your analysis is so helpful. I have bookmarked it for future references.

    1. Christine --

      Psychological thrillers? Awesome!

      If you don't know about my online courses, check them out. Each of my courses are loaded with 250+ pages of lectures. Lots of examples, deep editing analyses, and teaching points.

      If you're interested in pursuing them, get the lecture packet for the Empowering Characters’ Emotions course first. Second: Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More.Third: Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist.

      I teach those courses online in January, February, and March. Seems like a long time to wait.

      Now you know about my courses and lecture packets. I wanted you to know this blog is a miniscule slice of one of my psychologically based deep editing pies. 🙂

  16. Margie...
    OMG, I loved all the fresh writing examples. These dialogue cues and visceral responses are so much fun. Learn so much from your posts.

    1. Yolanda --

      Glad you learn from my blogs. They're a few bites of my deep editing smorgasbord that runs from New York City to San Francisco. Just had to share. 🙂

  17. Such dandy illustrations of stellar writing!
    *My stomach flutters like a moth caught in a jar. *
    *My adrenaline suddenly spikes, smashing my anger instinct out of its paralysis.*
    Thank you for this post, Margie. I need to brushup my WIP.

  18. Thanks for all your examples, illustrations, and explanations. It was a wonderful learning experience. I would love to take one of your classes.

  19. Wow, wow, wowie! I love these new examples of visceral's, dialogue cues and cliche twists. Great post, as always, Margie. So awesome to see my NYT VV Immersion sister in the examples. Go Kennedy!

    1. Hello Suzanne!

      I'm so excited that your Immersion sister's debut novel is out. Kennedy Ryan's writing is stellar, stellar, stellar!

      Miss you. Hope I get to see you this year, or next year.

  20. Love this and so timely. I wish someone would create a dictionary of body language that was easily searchable. I need help in getting the fresh writing started and that would help.

  21. Hi Margie **virtual wave, hug, and squee** I'm so honored to have lines posted with these other authors. :0 I cannot wait until the next Immersion with you!! I'm like Bonnie. I hear your voice (and picture you sitting on my shoulder) while I write.

  22. Great post and wonderful examples. I won one of your classes when WITS moved to their new website. Your August class sounds great.

  23. Once again, you knocked it out of the park (cliché alert! 😉 ). I'm still reveling in Brinda Berry's "My stomach flutters like a moth caught in a jar." It's so great to read a feeling you recognize, worded in a way you'd never think to say it but it seems so natural when you read it. That's fabulous writing.

    Looking forward to having you push me harder at Immersion this year! Thanks for more great tips.

  24. Margie's rules are smart rules for strong writing. I see I'm not the only one who has a mini-Margie on my shoulder encouraging me to use my writing tools and very gently giving me a Gibbs slap when I commit cliché or flat writing. 🙂 Love the new examples in this post. I collect them.

  25. All Delicious examples. Read and reread and bookmarked. Thanks for sharing your analysis of all those talented authors with us.

  26. I love all the fabulous examples you use in your lessons and blogs. Every time I read one I pick up something new. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  27. Margie,
    Always a pleasure to read your advice! Thank you for taking the time to help us all be better writers.

  28. Thanks for the examples, Margie. You are a master of vivid and fresh writing.
    I look forward to other posts by you.

  29. Thank you for your research and for the ample examples of compelling, fresh way to write emotions. When I see the examples, they make sense, but coming up with them is not so easy. Thanks for breaking them down to show us why they work wonders.

  30. Great tips from Margie and fabulous examples from her grads. I especially love the one "Her words zap me like a Taser, temporarily paralyzing my heart, my lungs, my conviction Lexi would do the right thing."
    Super pumped up writing! Thanks for the blog.

  31. Loved the extracts. Such powerful writing from everyone. I am digesting all of the
    material. Thanks for the great post, Margie and thanks WITS for sharing her. Love the new site.

  32. Wow, beautiful writing that makes me want to go buy all those books right now. Thank
    you for sharing such wonderful examples of such amazing talent!!

  33. Thank you for this post! I’m always excited to see Margie posts, and they always teach me something new. Your examples help me to look at my WIP in a different light.

  34. I'm trying to increase my understanding of how to deepen my character's personalities. This post goes a long way to the positive in that regard. Great post, Margie. Thanks!

  35. As usual, these sentences are killer. I loved Laura Drake's excerpt. It grabs the emotion of the scene in such a fresh way!!! I’d love to learn how to do that better! I hope I win a course. Thanks for the analysis, Margie.

  36. I enjoyed these examples of stellar writing but the best part of this post was Margie’s analysis of each. I'm afraid my sentences are sort of closer to the "could have written" alternatives but I'm still learning and blogs like these make the learning process fun.

  37. This blog comes at the perfect time for me. I am editing my manuscript and these fabulous snippets from these incredible authors force me to think in an altogether new way. Incredible examples and powerful advice, Margie! Makes me want to read all the books you used as examples.

  38. Thank you for sharing a bit of your wisdom on this matter, Margie. I've often come up against the problem of representing my characters' feelings in fresh ways. Generally, when I notice I'm a little bored with my own writing, I'm likely falling back on clichés. Your advice is a timely reminder to ramp it up and lose those clichés, dig deeper into the creative pile and re-express in a more evocative way.

  39. You chose some great examples, Margie. Fascinating to get so much visualization from just a few sentences. Thanks for the guidance!

  40. As always, Margie, you've given us a fantastic lesson. I wish I could come stay at your place while I start my next book!

    1. Fae --
      You want to come stay in my bear room while you start your next book? That can be arranged. 😉 But -- smarter to take the new STORY STARTERS class in July 1 - 28, and come to my house when you're deep editing. 🙂
      So glad I get to see you at National -- SOON!

  41. Thanks, Margie! I've been thinking about the emotional set a lot with my latest MS. Largely trying to figure out what I wanted the set to be, LOL.

  42. Awesome advice Margie! When I need an inspiration or just emotional motivation to get my story rolling all I have to do is pull out one of your lecture packets and bam! my brain turns back on!

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