Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 17, 2018

Putting Wow on the Page!

Margie Lawson

We at WITS are so happy to have Margie back with us, after a too-long hiatus!  Wisdom ahead!

Ready for two treats?

First Treat: This blog is loaded with examples of power, power, power. The kind of power that boosts your writing toward contracts and awards and bestseller lists.

Second Treat: I’ll deep edit analyze some of the examples. You’ll see how the author created that power.

We’ll start with a paragraph about silence. The silence that happens when a parent enters the room.

Amazing Grace, Elaine Fraser, 3-time Immersion-Grad

Silence—the sort of silence that sucked movement, breath, life, out of a room—descended. A presence behind her sent out a chill. It wriggled down her spine and she shivered. Mum stilled three teenage boys, a man, and a girl, just by entering a room. Her brothers were named after superheroes, but her mother owned the power.

Wow. Stellar writing.

Elaine Fraser lives in Australia. Hence, mum.

Deep Edit Analysis

Rhetorical Devices:

Amplification – amplified silence

Alliteration – silence, sort, silence, sucked, sent, spine, she, shivered, stilled

Asyndeton (No And) – movement, breath, life

Structural Parallelism –  last sentence

Power Words –  silence, silence, sucked, breath, life, chill, spine, shivered, stilled, superheroes, owned, power

Visceral Responses: chill wriggled down her spine, shivered

Power Internalization – last sentence

Three more examples from Amazing Grace by Elaine Fraser, 3-time Immersion-Grad.

  1. His grin was as relaxed as a worn pair of blue jeans.
  1. Emily gave a sigh that stretched as long as her legs.
  1. Britt laughed the way you did when you told embarrassing stories about your younger self.

 All is Bright, Andrea Grigg, Immersion-Grad 

  1. I let five seconds slide into eternity before I speak. “So-o-o-o-o what happened?”
  1. I’m tired, I’m emotional, I’m stressed. And in the context of who we’re talking about, my sense of humor has put on a tutu and pirouetted onto centre stage at a totally inappropriate time.
  1. I buckle up with laughter and Josh joins in, but not for long and certainly not as hysterically. I hiccup my way to a stop, and remember Tess, my darling sister Tess, and guilt rolls over me and in me and through me like a toxic fog.

Wow. Hear the BOOM? Powerful writing. 

Deep Edit Analysis – for the third example 

Power Words – joins, hysterically, stop, darling, guilt, toxic, fog

Rhetorical Devices:

Polysyndeton (Many Ands) – …guilt rolls over me and in me and through me.

Amplified Simile – like a toxic fog

Read the last example again. Notice how Andrea Grigg shifted the POV character’s emotional set. The girl went from silly to sad, and so did the reader. 

I Wish You Happy, Kerry Anne King, Cruising Writers Grad, International Bestseller 

You need to know -- Bernie is the POV character’s therapist. 

  1. But even my breathing feels sharp and wrong, and I open my eyes again and lock on to Bernie. My lifeline, my savior. My paid friend.
  2. I’ve been steadfastly stuck now for five years, the weight of my determined inertia too much for even a force of nature like Bernie to budge.
  3. Bernie lets the silence grow until it is cosmic, then sighs, sinks back, and lets her hands fall to her lap. The gesture does me in, it’s so full of futility. Even Bernie doesn’t know what to do with me.

Love the way Kerry Anne King shares the POV character’s emotions. Her internalizations about the therapist run deep and true. Readers will nod. They’ll feel her despair.

Wild Women and the Blues, Denny Bryce, 4-time Immersion-Grad, Golden Heart Winner 

  1. The small room with its dropped ceiling stoked my claustrophobia. No windows. No air. No natural light. Just stark-white walls out of focus like cheesecloth over a camera lens.

Deep Edit Analysis

Rhetorical Devices:

Anaphora (Triple Beginnings) – No windows. No air. No natural light.

Themed Description of Walls – out of focus. The POV character is in film production.

Themed Simile – like cheesecloth over a camera lens.

  1. Her expression was like the pages of the screenplay I never wrote. Blank with a heavy shot of I don’t care.

Wow. That’s a fresh and empowered way to write a blank face. 

Plus, Denny Bryce themed the facial expression to the POV character’s career. And she amplified, deepened characterization, in that second sentence too. Smart, smart, smart. 

The Tycoon’s Marriage Deal, Melanie Milburne, 4-Time Immersion-Grad 

The name rang a bell. Not a drawing room bell. A Big Ben type of bell.

Love that humor hit shared in a rhetorical device. Epistrophe. Triple endings.

The Most Scandalous Ravensdale, Melanie Milburne, 4-Time Immersion-Grad 

  1. His words were like a nail gun firing into a slab of timber.
  2. His smile was slow. Slow and deliberate. Amusement laced with mockery and a garnish of got-you.

Deep Edit Analysis

Power Words – smile, slow, slow, deliberate, amusement, mockery, got-you

Rhetorical Devices:

Anadiplosis – … slow. Slow…

Five Amplifications of that smile – Powerful writing!

A Season to Love, Nicole Deese, Immersion-Grad, ACFW Carol Winner 

  1. “You know I want to be more than your friend.” The raw quality in his voice was like the snap of a rubber band against wet skin.
  1. My gaze locked with Patrick’s and in that moment, my fear hardened into something firm and fierce and fiery. Something that whooshed in my eardrums and marched in my chest. Something that wouldn’t allow me to walk away.

Wow. Wow. Wow!

Deep Edit Analysis – for the third example

Power Words – locked, fear, hardened, firm, fierce, fiery, marched, wouldn’t allow, walk away

Rhetorical Devices:

Polysyndeton (No And) and Alliteration – firm and fierce and fiery

Onomatopoeia – whooshed

Anaphora (Triple Beginnings) – something, something, something

Structural Parallelism – whooshed in my eardrums and marched in my chest 

Mad About the Marquess, Elizabeth Essex, 2-time Immersion-Grad

  1. Strathcairn smiled at her in that lethal, tomcat way.
  2. She kissed as she was—agile and acrobatic, curious and capricious, delightful and determined. She was light and air and sunshine in the velvet dark of the empty room. She tasted of danger, dark and bittersweet like morning chocolate, and after one kiss, already deeply addictive. 

Deep Edit Analysis

Rhetorical Devices:

Triple Alliteration in the first sentence – A’s and C’s and D’s

Alliteration in the last sentence – danger, dark, deeply

Polysyndeton (Many Ands) – light and air and sunshine

Simile – like morning chocolate 

Wow! Fresh visceral response. Stellar writing. 

Thank you for clicking in and reading my blog. I love teaching writers how to add the right amount of power in the right places on their pages.

Kudos to all the Margie-Grads I cited here. Brilliant writers. They deep edited their writing, and it shows. They put Wow on their pages.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the wonderful WITS gals for inviting me to be their guest today. I always love hanging out with them — cyberly, and in person.

Please post a comment or share 'Hi Margie!'

If you post something, you have two chances to be a winner!

You could win a Lecture Packet from me or an online class from Lawson Writer’s Academy.

Lawson Writer's Academy – February Courses

  1. Write Better Faster
  2. Creating Compelling Characters
  3. The Sizzling, Scintillating Synopsis
  4. Five-Week First Draft
  5. Editing Magic: Work with a Professional Editor
  6. Crazy-Easy, Awesome Websites!

I’ll draw names for the two winners Thursday night, at 9PM Mountain Time, and post them on the blog.

Post a comment. Let me know you’re here.

And -- I’d love it if you’d give the blog a social media boost. Thank you.

Margie Lawson PhotoMargie Lawson—editor and international presenter—teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners.

She’s presented over 120 full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France, as well as taught multi-day intensives on cruises in the Caribbean.

To learn about Margie’s 5-day Immersion Master Classes (in 2018, in Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Richmond, Calgary, Atlanta, and in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth, Australia), full day and weekend workshops, keynote speeches, online courses through Lawson Writer’s Academy, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit www.margielawson.com. 

142 comments on “Putting Wow on the Page!”

    1. Hugs to Christa Allan!

      Thank you! You know I love your writing, and use examples from your books in every class.

      It would be so fabulous to work with you in an Immersion class. I have an opening in an Immersion in Dallas in June. Closer to you than Denver. 🙂

  1. Hello to mystical, magical, marvelous Maggie. Your words cut surgically through the mist of my morning brain speedier than the Nervous Nellie coffee that sloshed in my mug. Thank you!

    1. Hello Jena --

      Alliteration. metaphor, and fun, fun, fun!

      Hope I get to meet you sometime. If you're going to RWA National, I'll definitely meet you in Denver this summer!

  2. HI, Margie! Your lesson in wow is eye-popping inspiring, and makes me want to race to the keyboard...even before I've had coffee. Will share it everywhere...

    Thank you for the one-shot master class!


    1. Hello Faith --

      Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm, and for sharing the post too.

      I appreciate you!

  3. We've so missed seeing you here, Margie - and your stellar examples! I always say that you took me from good to sold.

    It's true. I never stop learning from you!

    1. Hey Laura --

      Great to be back on WITS. Love you all.

      Excited that I get to present a full day for your cool group in Midland, Texas!

  4. This post reminds me of everything I love about writing and EDITING! Time to go play with words and power up my WIP!☺ Excited for a chance to win--Margie's courses are the BEST!

    1. Hello Loretta --

      Thank you! I bet you're having fun adding power to your WIP.

      Check out the Lawson Writer's Academy courses. You'll find more winners!

    2. How nice to have someone admit they love EDITING! It is really fun to read the before and after in your own work once you put these techniques to use.

    1. Hello Shelly --

      I'm all about deconstructing examples for writers.

      Each of my online courses (and lecture packets) are loaded with a couple hundred pages of examples of teaching points. Tempting, eh? 🙂

    2. One of the reasons Margie's material has been so effective -- you learn the principle, then she shows you how it's applied so you can do it yourself later. Great way to teach!

    1. Hugs to Immersion-Grad Lynette B!

      Great to cyber-see you, but I'd rather see you in person.

      I remember your story -- from how many years ago? Four? Strong writing. Lots of emotion. Lots of power.

      Kudos to you for writing a story that stuck in my mind for so long!

      1. Thanks, Margie! It thrills me that my story stuck in your reads-a-ton mind.

        I'd rather see you in person, too. Another Immersion class is still one of my goals. Right now, my personal hurdles are a bit too much to get that done, but I'm working on it!

  5. "Silence—the sort of silence that sucked movement, breath, life, out of a room—descended." Just a tad wordy. Try: "The silence sucked all life from the room" and allow the reader to provide the associated emotion.

    1. Hello ggbyron --

      Thanks for sharing your input.

      I liked her power words and her use of asyndeton. The amplification worked well for me, but your version works too. 🙂

      1. Hugs to 3-time Immersion-Grad and Cruising Writers Grad Julie --

        Thanks so much for sharing that awesome point!

    1. Hello Christie --

      Learning can be sooo fun!

      Hundreds of learning opportunities in my lecture packets and online courses. 🙂

  6. I'm usually a lurker here, but not today. Wow, indeed! Not only an informative and helpful post (this one is a keeper), but the chance to win more tools for my craft box? I'm in! Thank you.

    1. Hello CK Wallis --

      Good for you for posting!

      Lots of learning opportunities in my online courses and lecture packets. Literally hundreds of pages in each.

      Hate for you to miss all those goodies that would make your writing strong!

    1. Hugs to 3-time Immersion-Grad Lisa Heartman --

      So fun being in Immersion with you THIS WEEK in PHOENIX!

    1. Hello Laura Trentham --

      I'll have two NEW lecture packets out within the next two weeks:

      -- Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts

      -- A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop!

      They're both loaded with deep editing goodies!

  7. I'm so glad to be able to say Hi, Margie! One of the judges in a contest suggested I look you up and my writing has blown up! It's got punch. It's got power. It's got voice!

    Thank you!

    1. Hello Nicole Terry --

      Sounds like you learned and applied what you learned. Perfect!

      Hope I get to meet you someday. Are you going to RWA National this summer? If so, I'll see you there!

    1. Hugs to 3-time Immersion-Grad Justine!

      Yes -- I'm here, in your home!

      Thanks soooo much for hosting an Immersion class. Loving every deep editing minute!

    1. Hugs to Immersion-Grad Jeanne Dickson!

      So fabulous working with you in another Immersion class this week!

  8. Wow, such great writing here! Love the way you break it down for us, Margie. (And may I say that, having read that book by Elizabeth Essex, the passage still moved me just as much to read it the second time.)

    Hope to see you very soon!!! Regardless, we'll always have France... 😉

    1. Hugs to Julie!

      You know it's powerful writing when a passage grabs you every time you read it.

      Yes. We'll always have France. Sigh... And I'd love to go back to France, or anywhere, with you. 🙂

  9. These examples were so inspirational to me, a novice writer. Thank you for pulling them together and sharing them. Also, (not that my name EVER gets picked for ANYTHING), I'm not able to take advantage of classes right now, so someone else will have to be the lucky duck this time.

    1. Hello Karen -

      You could still be lucky!

      Someone will win a lecture packet for one of my online courses. You get a couple hundred pages of lectures that you read and work through on your own. Think Independent Study.

      Hope to see you here the next time I'm guest blogging for WITS -- Feb. 21st!

    1. Hey Carrie --

      Glad these examples grabbed you. They grabbed me too!

      I'm excited about the Immersion Master Class at Yosemite in May. Big time fun!

  10. I read the examples twice already this morning. I want to suck them in and make them mine on a cellular level so they'll come out again through MY fingers on the keyboard! Thanks. I'm looking for one of your classes I can attend. Question: Could you address the balance between putting WOW on the page and overdoing it so it becomes "purple prose."

    1. I'd like to hear Margie's answer to your question. My immediate thought was "good critique partner." I actually met my main CP at my first Immersion with Margie, and she is really good at saying, "A bit too much" when my writing goes purple, so to speak. 🙂

    2. Hello Irtrovi --

      Love your energy!

      You asked me to address the balance between putting WOW on the page and overdoing it so it becomes purple prose.

      We need WOW writing and plain writing. Plain writing gets the job done. Nothing special. Just putting the story on the page.

      Most authors have missed opportunities to make their writing more interesting, more powerful. They could empower characterization, empower scene dynamics, empower emotion. They could make their book unputdownable.

      If they are strategic about deep editing, they'll have the right balance of plain and fresh writing.

      Fresh writing is a Goldilocks thing. Not too much. Not too little. Just the right amount.

      I call it chocolate mousse writing. Yummy, yummy.

      Every time you read a little hit of fresh writing -- pretend that you get a teensy bite of chocolate mousse.

      That little hit of fresh writing may be a word pairing or a phrase or a sentence.

      You can have several of those on a page, and not have too many.

      Here are three hits of fresh writing from FIND ME by Romily Bernard.

      -- ...but because he makes my feet hit the floor so I’m ready to run, because he makes my heart thump bass lines in my ears, because it’s him and he’s back and I’m scared...

      -- This should be all kinds of uninteresting, but my palms still go slick.

      -- In my head, I smother the words, but they still squirm.

      Those three examples presented in the opening of her book, within the first 250 words.

      Hope my response was helpful.

      Hope I get to meet you someday!

    1. Hello Harley --

      Love your energy too!

      Thank you soooo much! Glad my examples WOWED you. 😉

  11. LOVE these! Especially impressed with Denny Bryce's example. Way to rock the words, ladies!

    1. Hello Sarah Andre --


      You're a WINNER! You won a lecture packet from me. I Fb messaged you.

      Bet you're glad you posted a comment!

  12. I always look forward to reading any and all of your advice. Thanks for being here and sharing some Margie with us. Sometimes we just need a Margie fix! Happy to share on social media.

    1. Hello Sandra T --

      Ah -- Glad you got your Margie fix!

      Hope I get to see you at RWA National this year!

    1. Hello Ginny --

      Glad you enjoyed the blog.

      Lots more learning opps in my online courses and lecture packets. A couple hundred pages loaded with examples and teaching points.

      Now you know. 😉

    1. Hello Rick --

      You're stunned. Yay!

      Want to learn more?

      Consider taking the first of my Big Three online courses -- Empowering Characters' Emotions. It will be taught in March.

      Or - you could get the Empowering Characters' Emotions lecture packet through my website -- and you'll have all the lectures from that course. Hundreds of examples, teaching points, learning opportunities.

      Powerful stuff!

    1. Hello D Holcomb!

      Thanks for chiming in. You could be a winner when I'm back here on Feb. 21st!

  13. Every time I read your lessons now I hear your voice. 🙂 Thanks for sharing these, just when I needed a refresher.

    1. Hugs to Immersion-Grad Marin McGinnis!

      Every time I see your picture I hear your voice. 🙂

      Loved your Cleveland Immersion. Big time fun!

    1. Hello Dani --

      Love your enthusiasm!

      I bet you'd love all the examples and teaching points in my online courses and lecture packets. Each course is a couple hundred pages long. You'd learn how to add more interest and power to your WIP.

  14. Thanks to a Margie Lawson workshop, visceral responses have become part of my character's lives. Those bits of internal response always engage my crit partners and beta readers.

    1. Hello crb writer --

      Fabulous! I bet your fresh visceral responses will wow agents and editors too!

  15. Thanks for the power lesson Margie. Now back to my story 'cause I can see it needs a lot of work. Have a good day.

  16. Wow, wow, wow. Margie, I'm sending you big hugs, you never fail to impress. I miss you from Florida to Atlanta to Denver. I love the fabulous powerful writing you shared, I'll be spreading your word to all the writers I know. And I'm thrilled to be included as an instructor in your classes.

    1. Hugs to 2-time Immersion-Grad Suzanne Purvis!

      Ah -- I miss you too.

      I'm teaching an Immersion class in Phoenix now. Shared examples from FUSED. They love, love, love your smooth and empowered writing!

      And -- so glad you're teaching THE SIZZLING, SCINTILLATING SYNOPSIS in February. Awesome course!

  17. Show me, don't tell me. I strive for it in my writing. I learn best with it. Examples. Examples. Examples. Many thanks to you, Margie, for opening my eyes as wide as pancakes and for making my creative soul become a kettle of excitable fish!

    1. Hello Chris --

      A kettle of excitable fish.

      Ha -- Love it!

      Can't wait to work with you in an Immersion class next fall!

  18. Such power in short snippets. Thank you so much for sharing these examples and your analyses. I learned so much. Checking out your classes...

  19. Loved my immersion class and loved reading through all the new examples. I really needed this review right now. Thanks so much for putting this together and sharing.

    1. Hugs to Immersion-Grad Amanda Uhl!

      So fun working with you and your Immersion siblings in Cleveland. Fabulous group!

      Happy Deep Editing!

  20. Hi Margie - means so much to have some of my samples on here! You're an inspiration and a motivator that's for sure. Can't wait to be part of another immersion here in Oz. Roll on November!

    1. Hugs to Immersion-Grad Andrea Grigg --

      You know I love your writing!

      Can't wait until the Immersion class at your house on the Gold Coast. I always love, love, love going Down Under and visiting my Aussie friends.

      I believe the Immersion at your house will be the 17th Immersion I've taught in Australia. Wowzee!

  21. I’m certain you implanted a “Margie-voice-device” in me at WTAMU last summer. I hear the cadence in every packet/class I go through! Keep it coming!

    1. Sherry --

      Ha! I'm in your head. Perfect!

      A one week class at West Texas A&M University last June, and now you are thinking and hearing cadence-driven writing. Awesome!

  22. Love your work, Margie. Not just your wisdom but the vitality that oozes from the prose written by your immersion grads. I've felt discouraged this week about my writing but you've inspired me to get my walking boots on and face the next hill. One. Step. After. Another.

  23. Love these examples, I'm truly envious of these amazing lines! Thank you for the opportunity and I always look forward to your posts, Margie. <3

  24. As always, entertaining and fresh. I still have yet to do an immersion class. Someday... This is a nice gentle reminder to power up the writing. JET.

  25. Hi, Margie, It's always great to ready another of your analyses. This are great examples of power. Thanks for sharing. I need to purchase another lecture packet. Hope you'll be at RWA in Denver.

  26. Loved all your examples!! I always think of you when I pick power words and end a sentence with punch.

  27. This is excellent timing. I have drifted away from writing. Now, this inspires me to pull out my Immersion Grad class notes and dig back in. Thanks for this post.

  28. I've taken many of your courses but its so refreshing to be reminded of fresh writing. The triple beginning device show here really took my fancy. Thanks!

  29. Hi Margie! Thoroughly enjoyed our five days in Coffs Harbour, almost a year ago. Learned heaps and still talk about 'Margifying' scenes. Orange for visceral - yep, got that in the scene. Hope to do another course one day.

  30. Thank you for the analysis! The examples always make me work harder.

    P.S. I was doing a workshop recently and in the midst of the lecture interrupted myself with "Cliche alert!" and thought of you. 😀

  31. It's great to have you back with us, Margie. You were busy in 2017! Thank you for wonderful examples top amp up our writing. I can't wait to see you this summer!

  32. I met ypu at RWA in S Diego and wonder why I wallowed instead of experiencing immersion. I'm working through your defeat self-defeating lectures. The reign of my top 3 self-defeating behaviors ends now. I look forward to hearing you in Denver.

  33. I've printed out these examples and have added them to my immersion binder. Thanks for the beautiful examples!

  34. Thank you for the great post Margie! It took me back to the NEORWA workshop in Cleveland last year and reinforced how awesome your techniques are. Thank you for your tireless devotion to helping us tell better stories.

  35. Hi Margie! I was so thrilled to meet you at the Omega Conference in Sydney recently, and to soak up the sensational teaching you gave us. I can’t wait for your return. Meanwhile I’ll immerse myself in your blog for some more wow wow wow.

  36. Wow! These are awesome examples! I never knew there actual names for some of these things, like asyndeton. My brain just went boom!

  37. Margie, your examples always do double duty. They make me ashamed of not working much harder to reach the wow factor; they make me inspired to rewrite. Thanks.

  38. Hi Margie! I'm in two classes on line now! Ever since I saw you in Cleveland last September. Learning curve is exponential!! Working towards an immersion! Thanks to you and to your co-teachers!

  39. Always a pleasure to dive into Margie's brain and see how a master analyzes prose. I'm hoping to attend an immersion class one of these years. Maybe next year. 🙂


    Wow. Wow. Wow!

    Thanks for dropping by WITS and reading my blog. Loved all the comments.

    I'm teaching an Immersion Master Class in Phoenix this week. I haven't had a chance to respond to everyone's comments, but I will.

    We have TWO WINNERS!

    The lucky winner of a lecture packet from me is..........SARAH ANDRE!

    The lucky winner of an online course from Lawson Writer's Academy is............JAY HICKS!

    Sarah and Jay -- I'll Fb message or email you.

    EVERYONE -- I'll be back on WITS blog on Feb. 21st!

    If you have questions about my lecture packets, online courses, full day workshops, keynote speeches, Immersion Master Classes, or anything, please contact me through my website or Fb message me.

    Thanks again everyone!

    See you on WITS!

  41. So happy to read this! I've heard Margie twice in person, participated in the visceral reaction online class, and bought a lecture packet. Always improves my writing!

  42. Wow is right. The examples are impressive. I'm heading to the website now to check out the course list . . .

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