How often do you get fresh…on the page?
Writers are beyond crazy busy getting their story on the page, developing goal-motivation-conflict, deepening characterization, sharing subtext with body language and dialogue cues, making choreography work, as well as covering the 3756 other dynamics they need to consider to make their writing strong.
Sometimes writers forget about writing fresh. Or they don’t include enough hits of fresh writing.
Fresh hits may be unexpected. But when they fit the POV character like Peter Pan’s shadow fit him, they’re yummy. Those twists of phrases, tweaks for humor, fresh visuals, and more, power the reader through your story. They make your book a page-turner.
Fresh hits may be humorous or serious. As long as they honor the emotional set of the POV character in that scene and don’t interrupt a stimulus-response, they’ll probably work.
Some fresh hits are super subtle. Others grab you and propel you through the passage.
Lean back and enjoy these examples of fresh writing.
Season of Change, Melinda Curtis, Immersion-Grad
Example 1 -- Melinda Curtis could have written:
Slade tried to swallow, but his throat was too tight.
But she wrote this fresh piece:
Shameful. The word spiraled up Slade’s windpipe, closing it off to vital functions like breathing and calls for help.
Wow. Fresh and powerful.
Example 2 -- Melinda Curtis could have written:
“They wore different outfits today.” He smiled.
Instead, she wrote:
“They wore different outfits today.” He used his papa-bear smile, the one that made her melt. The one that made her forget he was her boss.
Melinda used three amplifications to deepen character.
Example 3 -- Melinda Curtis could have written:
Slade’s stomach clenched.
She really wrote this version:
Slade’s stomach wound up tighter than a slugger protecting home plate.
Ah. An amplified simile. Smart writing. Perfect cadence.
The Pieces We Keep, Kristina McMorris, Margie-Grad
Example 1 – Kristina McMorris could have written:
The room went quiet.
You’ll be glad Kristina worked harder and wrote this line:
The quiet left behind was the type that followed a shove off a cliff.
Boom. That’s a powerful simile.
Example 2 – Kristina McMorris could have written just these three words:
Her chest cinched.
But Kristina added 16 more words:
Her chest cinched. An ancient grip squeezed out her air, the hand of a ghost reaching from the soil.
Out of context, it’s strong writing. In context, it’s uber-powerful.
Example 3 – Kristina McMorris could have been content with this cliché.
In her frenzied state, she’d follow him anywhere.
Kristina didn’t bore the reader by giving them something they’d read before. She treated them to this sentence:
In her frenzied state, he could lead her to hell and she wouldn’t think to object until waist deep in flames.
The Valquez Seduction, Melanie Milburne, USA Today Bestselling Author,
This time I’ll share a passage followed by a deep edit analysis.
Daisy had heard the expression ‘time stood still’ many times. She had even used it on occasion. She knew it wasn’t logically possible but this time it really did stop. She felt it. It was as if every clock in the nightclub, every clock on every smartphone, every watch on every wrist shuddered and then stopped.
Tick. Tock. Stop.
Belinda snapped her fingers in front of Daisy’s face. ‘Earth to Daze.’
‘Oh, my God.’ Kate nudged Daisy in the ribs. ‘He’s coming over!’
Daisy sat with her heart pounding like a piston in an engine long overdue for a service. Her skin felt tingly all over. She could even feel the backs of her knees fizzing like sherbet trickled into a glass of soda. She felt giddy. She had to grip the edge of the bar with one of her hands to stop from tumbling to the floor in an ungainly heap.
Deep Edit Analysis:
Amplification -- in first and fifth paragraphs.
Anaphora – every clock…, every clock…, every watch…
Simile – Twice – Like a piston…, Like sherbet…
White Space – Empowers the passage.
Multiple Visceral Responses:
• heart pounding, amplified simile
• tingly skin
• backs of knees, amplified simile
• giddy, amplified with a full sentence
Fresh Writing – Yes!
This Side of Salvation, Jeri Smith-Ready, Margie-Grad
You’ll find several hits of fresh writing in these back-to-back paragraphs, and a Deep Edit Analysis below.
I hear the wahp-wahp of sirens, see the blue-and-red flash of lights through my eyelids, and realize that I am dead. Not heaven-bound dead, cashing in on my undeserved eternal ecstasy. Dead as in, if I’ve missed curfew—and therefore the non-end of the world—my dad is going to kill me.
Here on Stephen Rice’s lawn, “busted” echoes in a dozen panicky voices. I sit up quickly as barely dressed juniors and seniors scurry past, tripping over scattered beach towels, pouring out the contents of their plastic cups. I pity the grass its imminent hangover.
Deep Edit Analysis:
Power Words: dead, heaven-bound dead, cashing in, undeserved eternal ecstasy, dead, missed curfew, non-end of the world, kill, busted, panicky, barely dressed, pity, hangover
Backloaded Words: dead, ecstasy, kill me, panicky voices, hangover
Amplification: The first paragraph is loaded with amplifications regarding how dead he’ll be, how much trouble he’ll be in with his dad, if he gets arrested.
Humor Hits: multiple - - including missing the non-end of the world, and personification, the grass getting a hangover
Fresh Writing – Yes!
Sweet on You, Laura Drake, Margie-Grad, RITA Winner!
The arctic wind howled around the corner of the huge building, to blast her, snatching her breath, tearing her eyes. Her desert-thin blood raced through her in a hopeless, frantic attempt to keep warm. She whipped her head right, then left, thinking that a wrong choice would find her dead, flash-frozen, like Jack Nicholson in that Stephen King movie.
Deep Edit Analysis:
Power Words: arctic, howled, huge, blast, snatching, tearing, desert-thin, blood, raced, hopeless, frantic, attempt, warm, whipped, wrong, dead, flash-frozen, Jack Nicholson, Stephen King
Asyndeton: First Sentence
Amplification: First Sentence
Simile: like Jack Nicholson in that Stephen King movie.
Allusion: Jack Nicholson, Stephen King
Example 2: Two paragraphs
She knew from experience that the worst thing for her was idleness. Memories and loneliness would wash over her, rolling her in churning emotions, leaving her unsure of the way to the surface. Days later, the undertow would release her, and she’d struggle back, weakened, covered in a salty film of guilt.
Why had Murphy died and she survived? The army chaplain told her it was God’s will. The army psychiatrist said it was chance. She knew what Grand would say. That she had an unfulfilled purpose.
Deep Edit Analysis:
Power Words: worst, idleness, memories, loneliness, emotions, unsure, surface, undertow, release, struggle, weakened, guilt, died, survived, chaplain, God’s will, psychiatrist, chance, Grand, unfulfilled purpose
Backloaded Words: idleness, surface, guilt, survived, God’s will, chance, unfulfilled purpose
Asyndeton: Twice. Second and third sentences in the first paragraph.
Rhetorical question: First sentence, second paragraph.
Amplification: Both paragraphs.
Amplified Metaphor – First paragraph
Fresh writing sells.
Trust me. Don’t settle for clichéd and overused phrases. Get fresh. Give your readers chocolate-mousse-on-the-tongue writing. Keep them turning pages, wanting more and more and more.
BLOG GUESTS: IT’S YOUR TURN!
Click in and say Hi. Or want to share your fresh writing? Just one or two sentences.
Say Hi, post an example, or post a comment, and you’ll be in the drawing to win an online course from Lawson Writer’s Academy!
Check out the courses offered by Lawson Writer's Academy in January:
- Screenwriting Strategies for Fiction Writers
- 30 Days to a Stronger Novel
- From Blah to Beats: Giving Your Chapter a Pulse
- Creating Reader's Guides for YA and MG Novels
- Virtues, Vices, & Plots
The drawing will be Tuesday, December 9, 8:00 PM Mountain Time.
Margie Lawson—editor, international presenter—teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. Margie has presented over ninety full day master classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. She’s excited to share that Romance Writers of Australia is bringing her back to present at their conference next summer.
To learn about Lawson Writer’s Academy, Margie’s 4-day Immersion Master Classes (in Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, San Antonio, Columbus, Jacksonville, Houston, and on Whidbey Island), her full day Master Class presentations, on-line courses, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit www.MargieLawson.com.