by Margie Lawson
Why a blog about hugs?
Because on the page a hug may be blah-blah. But it could carry this kind of power.
Her arms wrapped around me like chains, her whispered words the lock sealing my fate.
Steena Holmes, NYT Bestseller, 2-time Immersion Grad, wrote that hug.
Look at the words that carry psychological power: chains, whispered, lock, sealing, and fate.
Five Power Words in a fifteen-word sentence.
Power Words carry power.
And Steena played off chains and lock.
Steena could have written:
She wrapped her arms around me and whispered in my ear.
Aack! We’ve read that type of line. No power there.
Not brilliant writing.
Two more hugs from Steena Holmes. These are from The Patient, her Oct. 15 release.
1. I wait for Mommy to get upset at Daddy for leaving me here all by myself. Any minute now she’s going to scoop me up in her arms and have me sit in her lap. Her arms will be tight around me, like a big soft bear hug, and I’ll be okay.
The child knows the dynamics between her parents and anticipates a lovey hug from Mommy. But Steena took it deeper by sharing the impact that hug would have on the little girl.
2. I hugged her again so she couldn’t see the lie on my face.
Now the POV character is an adult, and the hug has nothing to do with caring or comforting. That hug is a ploy to keep the other character from seeing she is lying.
And Steena made it CLEAR on the page. The reader knows what the POV character is doing and why.
Let’s dive in and check out powerfully written hugs from some more Immersion Grads.
Cassandra Cotton and Featherstone’s Folly, Marin McGinnis, Immersion Grad
“Mum!” Charles hurled himself into my arms, nearly knocking me arse over elbow given how much taller he was than I. But in that moment I forgot he was full grown, and I clasped him so tightly we were nearly one person. I imagined he was my little boy again, imagined I could make any hurt go away. Imagined I hadn’t just put myself in mortal danger trying to solve my uncle’s murder.
But I had, and I was bloody lucky I was still able to hug my son.
So many smart Teaching Points in that example.
- Slipped in the difference in height in an interactive way.
- Shared a Yes Set: … and I clasped him so tightly we were nearly one person.
Most people have had that experience, but thought it with different words.
The Yes Set means the reader knows that feeling, identifies more with the POV character, and keeps reading and reading and reading.
- Used anaphora. A couple thousand Margie grads know this rhetorical device. Using the same word or words to kick off a minimum of three phrases or sentences in a row.
- Drop Down Power Line – White Space adds emphasis. That drop down power line carries perfect cadence and content.
The examples below are not analyzed. My Deep Edit Analyses would make the blog too long.
Curve Ball, Not Yet Published, Carrie Padgett, Immersion Grad
Grant moved deliberately, thanks to the sling around his shoulder, and gave her a one-armed hug as gentle as cotton candy floating on a breeze.
Exit Strategy by Lainey Cameron, Immersion Grad, publishing mid-2020
1. David stood, and she pulled him close. If hugs healed, she’d hold him all night.
2. She set aside her mini champagne bottle, and they hugged long enough to hear each other's breathing.
Runaway Surgeon, Not Yet Published, Marie Timlin, Immersion Grad
She couldn’t see his face, but felt his rock-hard body pressed against her back. Closing her eyes against shock waves—tens on the Richter scale—she couldn’t prevent the shudder that rocked through her. His arm banded her midriff and he leaned in. Her toes curled as his lips brushed her ear.
Susan’s Story, Not Yet Published, Joyce Caylor, Immersion Grad
The little girl hugging the POV character is almost two years old.
She could feel all five fingers press into the right side of her neck, the other side enduring a strong tug of her hair. Two little arms, too short to reach all the way around. Her everything.
His Unexpected Amish Family, Rachel J. Good, 2-Time Immersion Grad
1. Mary leaned over to give Anna a one-armed side-hug along with a poor-you smile.
2. Levi longed to hug her. Although if he did, it wouldn’t resemble the encouraging hugs he gave the little ones. The gentle I’m-here-for-you or I-know-you-can-do-it hugs. Or even the cheery you’ll-be-all-right hugs. His hug for Anna would encompass all of those, but he worried it might turn into an I’m-falling-for-you hug. Or, if he wasn’t careful, a promise of much, much more.
Raewyn Bright, 4-time Immersion Grad
He cradled her head on his shoulder. She froze, left her hands dangling useless at her sides. She’d never been held like this, not by him, not by Ash, certainly not by Norna. But then, she’d never exposed her vulnerability before.
Would he use her weakness against her? Again?
A physical attack she expected and would’ve welcomed. This attack on her desire for affection and her constant, unmet need for love was a battle she’d lose.
She pulled back to shove him away. But a tender expression crossed his face. An expression she’d never seen on him. He looked as lost as she felt, as lonely and in need of love too.
It was too revealing, too confronting. She broke free from him. She was a strong warrior, fierce, and unafraid of anything. Yet her heart pounded out of control like she was petrified.
Untitled WIP, Rebecca Hodge, 2-time Immersion Grad
The POV character is a 13 year old boy.
She gave me a quick hug, but it wasn't anything like Mom's hugs. Mom's hugs were so fierce on my ribs it made it hard to move, and they smelled like her perfume. This ordinary hug hardly felt like a hug at all, and it just smelled like plain old tomato sauce.
Believing Amos, Not Yet Published, Christel Cothran, Immersion Grad
Before I knew it, I was clinched in his arms, pressed to his chest, arms pinned to my sides, feet dangling. His hold was so tight, I wondered if I could breathe and just as quickly I was released. Amos set me down with all the concern of a Delta baggage handler.
From Christel Cothran’s Email to Me:
Know there are also hugs from me in this email. A good new-friend hug, a thank-you hug, and a hug to keep for just when you need one.
The Mortician's Daughter: Two Feet Under, C.C. Hunter (Christie Craig), Immersion Grad
Four Amplified Hugs
1. Before I realize what she’s doing, Mrs. Carter crosses the threshold and hugs me. Hugs me so tight that everything inside me feels squeezed. My lungs. My heart. My confidence. I instantly feel claustrophobic.
2. He moves in and hugs me. Burying my face in his shoulder, I breathe in, wanting to savor the daddy scent. The I’m-your-hero aroma that has gotten me through so many tough times in my life.
3. She comes around and hugs me. Tight. I hug her back, remembering the hug with Annie’s mom. Hugging people you barely know is awkward, but it’s feeling less awkward with Mrs. Carter after each one. Maybe because I feel the connection to her through Hayden. Or maybe because I know she needs the hugs so badly.
4. Still unsure of the right words, I hug her—tight. Hanging on, I start counting, because yesterday I read an online article that said for a hug to really be beneficial it needs to last twenty seconds. Which is why Dad’s short embraces don’t cut it anymore. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. At twenty-three, I still don’t want to let go. But I’m not sure if it’s all for her or for me. Probably both.
One more hug. This one is from a dog.
The Six-Percent Baby, Not Yet Published, Jenny Hansen, 2-Time Immersion Grad
Hoshi greeted us, her doggy body vibrating with joy until she looked into my face. She stilled, leaned against my leg, whined. I melted to the floor, burying my face in her soft black fur.
I chanced a look at Steve and the grief on his face wrecked me. “I’m sorry, Honey. I’m so sorry.”
He sank beside me in the entryway. Hoshi draped her ninety-pound self across our laps in her version of a group hug.
And finally, the real tears came. The ugly ones that turn your face into a chewed-up dog toy.
I had to include the last paragraph. It was too perfect to leave out.
How Can You Write Fresh Hugs?
Add to this Starter List for Types of Hugs
- Pat Your Back
- Hug with One a Step Higher
- Slow Dance Arms and Sway
- Squeeze and Release
- Squeeze and Hold
- Barely There
- Too Tight
- Trapped with Arms Locked Around Neck
- Feeling the Love in a Big Bear Hug
Add to this Starter List for Motivations for Hugs
- Caring and Support
- Doing What’s Expected
- The Cover-Up: Showing the Opposite of How You Feel
Create a list of your hug experiences. Make notes about some of those hugs.
- Impact on you
Some people are natural huggers. When you get a hug from one of them, you feel like you’re wrapped in pure love.
With others, you may feel like you’re wrapped in ______. Fill in that blank. 🙂
When you initiated a hug and received a response you didn’t expect, how did you feel? How did you react? Could be negative or positive.
When you received a hug you didn’t expect, how did you feel? How did you react? Could be negative or positive.
Write hugs the POV character initiated and received. How did they feel? How did they react? Could be negative or positive.
Do you see how writing a hug in a fresh way can add depth and power?
I hope you all don’t settle for blah-blah writing. Remember, fresh writing sells.
So fitting that my topic is hugs. We all need more hugs. Given the catastrophic loss in my life, now I cherish hugs even more.
THANK YOU to the WITS team for hosting me again. Sending lots of lovey hugs to you all.
BLOG GUESTS -- THANK YOU for dropping by WITS.
Please post a comment. Say Hi – or share a hug you wrote.
I would love to read lots of fresh hugs.
You could win a Lecture Packet from me or an online class from Lawson Writer’s Academy valued up to $100.
The drawing will be Sunday night, 9:00 PM Mountain Time.
Lawson Writer’s Academy – November Courses
- Potent Pitches and Brilliant Blurbs, Instructor: Suzanne Purvis
- Giving Your Chapters a Pulse,Instructor: Rhay Christou
- Biz Smarts for Writers,Instructor: Sarah Hamer
- Ta Da! How to Put Funny on the Page, Instructor: Lisa Wells
- How to Write a Novel in Evernote,
- Instructor: Lisa Norman
- New Course: Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Writing Realistic Scenes from the Front Seat of an Ambulance, Instructor: Julie Rowe and Jeffrey Petrock
* * * * * *
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 me to present a full day workshop for your writing organization? Contact me through her website, or Facebook Message me.
Interested in attending one of my 5-day Immersion Master Classes? Click over to my website and check them out.
Registration is open for Immersion classes in Atlanta, Denver, Poulsbo (WA), Pittsburgh, San Jose, Jacksonville, and Milnathort, Scotland!
I’m adding three Immersion classes in Australia too. Email me if you’re interested.
Thanks so much for reading this blog. I can’t wait to read your comments and hugs!