Hellooo, Writers —
I’m excited to share some truly stellar examples in this blog.
I’ve guest blogged for WITS 30+ times and worked hard to make sure my blogs are power-packed with tips and techniques, examples and analyses. Every teaching point is there to help you make your writing bestseller strong.
I’m always impressed by the comments left by so many writers who are excited about what they’ve learned in my blogs.
But sometimes, I wonder how many of those writers remember and use what they’ve read. I can tell you everything I know in blogs, online classes, and lecture packets. I can even work with you one on one and share all my secrets—but your writing won’t be stronger if you don’t use them.
How do teaching points stick in your mind? How do you learn? Do you take notes? Print the blogs you want to remember or save them in a file?
One of the college courses I used to teach was "The Psychology of Learning." Most of us have to review new material several times, and use it, or it’s gone, gone, gone.
Try it with this blog. Review the material. Use what you learn. And keep reviewing and using. Then see how much you retain as you write forward. I think you’ll be amazed at how much stronger your writing has become.
Here are some gems from two of my earlier WITS blogs.
2014: Get Fresh!
How often do you get fresh…on the page?
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.
Some fresh hits are super subtle. Others grab you and propel you through the passage.
Season of Change, Melinda Curtis, Multi-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:
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 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.
2018: Not Your Mama’s Character Descriptions
Does your real or imaginary writing checklist include:
-- Make Character Descriptions Fresh, Unpredictable, Multi-Powerful?
If not, it could.
Character descriptions can add power on multiple levels. They can boost cadence, add a humor hit, strengthen emotion, and slip in backstory.
You can treat the reader to something fresh, something they haven’t read before. You can slip in details that deepen characterization too.
The more important a character, the more attention and power they deserve in the description.
Attention: Consider the number of lines.
Power: Be strategic regarding style and structure.
The Scandal, Nicola Marsh, Margie Grad, USA Today Bestseller
Elly wasn’t the type of woman I’d normally befriend Stunning on the surface, from her designer shoes to her flawless make-up, wearing her sexuality like a killer outfit. But the eyes never lie and I knew, with the instinct of dealing with fragile women for years, that Elly’s overt beauty hid a brittleness she strove to hide.
Deep Edit Analysis
Power Words – stunning, designer, flawless, sexuality, killer, lie, instinct, fragile, hid, bitterness, hide
Deepened Characterization – multiple points
Cliché Play – from her designer shoes to her flawless make-up
A School for Unusual Girls, Kathleen Baldwin, Immersion Grad, USA Today Bestseller
The headmistress, Miss Emma Stranje, sat behind her desk, mute, assessing me with unsettling hawk eyes. In the flickering light of the oil lamp, I couldn’t tell her age. She looked youthful one minute, and ancient the next. She might've been pretty once, if it weren’t for her shrewd measuring expression. She’d pulled her wavy brown hair back into a severe chignon knot, but stray wisps escaped their moorings giving her a feral catlike appearance.
Deep Edit Analysis
Power Words: headmistress, Stranje, mute, assessing, unsettling, hawk, youthful, ancient, pretty, shrewd, measuring, severe, escaped, feral
News-of-a-Difference Details: throughout
Dear Wife, Kimberly Belle, 5-time Immersion Grad, USA Today Bestseller, International Bestseller
Amanda Shephard steps through my front door, looking just like she did in high school. Blonde, thin, a complicated sort of pretty—big lashes and acrylic nails and long, heat-curled hair. Her face is caked under a layer of makeup I’ve never seen her without, not even the summer before senior year when our entire class spent every day bobbing in blow-up tubes on the river. All the other girls had shiny cheeks pink from the sun, but Amanda’s makeup was like a mask, flawless and impenetrable.
Deep Edit Analysis
Power Words – complicated, pretty, never-seen-her-without (makeup), mask, flawless, impenetrable
Rhetorical Device: polysyndeton –big lashes and acrylic nails and long, heat-curled hair
Rhetorical Device: Alliteration – bobbing, blow up; makeup, mask
Deepened Characterization: Throughout
Backstory Slip Ins: high school, tubing in river
I hope this blog motivates you to use what you’ve learned. You can make your writing bestseller-strong. You just have to put in the work.
You get a taste of my deep editing techniques from my blogs. But my online courses and lecture packets are each a couple of hundred pages long. And they’re loaded with teaching points and analyzed examples.
Kudos to the Margie grads I referenced in this blog. Impressive writing.
THANK YOU to the WITS gals for hosting me again. Love you all!
THANK YOU for dropping by the blog.
Please post a comment or share a "Hi Margie!" Post something -- and 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.
The drawing will be Sunday night, 9:00 PM Mountain Time.
Lawson Writer’s Academy – September Courses
- Your First Five Pages, Reader Glue – Instructor: Laura Drake
- Empowering Characters’ Emotions – Instructor: Becky Rawnsley teaching Margie Lawson’s course
- Deep Point of View – Instructor: Rhay Christou
- The Sizzling Scintillating Synopsis – Instructor: Suzanne Purvis
- The Rule of Six – Instructor: Shirley Jump
- Crazy-Easy Social Media for Authors – Instructor: Lisa Norman
- New Course! Kidlit Crash Course: Writing and Publishing Your MG-YA Novel – Instructor: Michelle Schusterman
- New Course! Memoir: For Your Children’s Children – Instructor: Sarah Hamer
- New Course! Set Up for Success: The Author’s Strategic Plan – Instructor: Donna Alward
Margie 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, full day and weekend workshops, keynote speeches, online courses through Lawson Writer’s Academy, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit: www.margielawson.com
Interested in inviting Margie to present a full day workshop for your writing organization? Contact Margie through her website, or Facebook Message her.
Interested in attending one of Margie’s 5-day Immersion classes? Click over to her website and check them out.
A personal note from Margie:
Many of you know about the tragedy in my life. My husband died in a plane crash on May 15.
It seems inauthentic to not mention this horror.
I miss my Tom every minute. I’m forever sad. Forever adjusting.
All the notes and cards and flowers are so comforting. I’m incredibly appreciative.
See you in the comments.