March 22, 2019

Margie Lawson

Cadence counts. Truly counts.

You probably know you should read your work out loud. But do you?

And do you read it out loud with feeling?

Most writers don’t take the time to read their WIP out loud until they’re on a final draft.


By then they’ve read most scenes at least a dozen times. Whatever they’ve written sounds normal to them, but the cadence may not be compelling.

Read my last sentence out loud:

Whatever they’ve written sounds normal to them, but the cadence may not be compelling.

Hear the compelling cadence?

The beats in the two halves of the sentence match. Sounds cool, right?

I named that structural parallelism. It makes the sentence cadence driven.

If you’ve heard me present, taken my online classes, done my lecture packets, or completed a 5-day Immersion class, you know I use examples to share my teaching points.

We’re diving in. Lots of compelling cadence ahead.

Please read the examples out loud, with feeling.

Dear Wife, Kimberly Belle, 5-time Immersion Grad, USA Today Bestseller, International Bestseller

Dear Wife will be released June 25.

1I try to focus on the Reverend’s smile, not the spiky ball of dread gathering in my gut.

Hear the compelling cadence in the last part of her sentence?

  • spiky ball of dread
  • gathering in my gut

The beats match. When back-to-back phrases or clauses or sentences have beats that match, I call it structural parallelism.

Those matching beats at the end of that sentence make the cadence compelling.

Kimberly could have written this line:

I try to focus on the Reverend’s smile and forget about the spiky ball of dread in my stomach.

Same idea. But that made-up sentence isn’t cadence driven.

2.  I pay cash and console myself with the only bright spot I can find in this shitty, shameful day: I’ve always wanted to be a redhead.

You can hear the silent BOOM! after shitty, shameful day. That’s powerful cadence.

Kimberly used a rhetorical device, alliteration, to emphasize it more.

The end of the sentence carries a strong cadence too. And a humor hit.

3.  I see the name, and a shot of adrenaline hits my veins like liquid fire.

Feel that BOOM! right after fire?

If not, read that sentence out loud again, with feeling. You’ll feel that BOOM!

4. There’s an explosion of movement and voices, of passing plates and scooping spoons, of people tearing into the heaping platters like they haven’t eaten since last week.

Look how Kimberly Belle constructed a strong sentence about people eating dinner. She made that sentence carry power. And part of that power is the compelling cadence. She used structural parallelism: of passing plates and scooping spoons.

Part of that power is due to her use of alliteration. She used alliteration twice. I call that double alliteration:  passing plates, scooping spoons.

Home at Chestnut Creek, Laura Drake, 2-time Immersion Grad, Cruise Grad, RITA Winner

Home at Chestnut Creek will be released July 30.

The night sounds come alive. Water burbles over the rocks, speaking a language I can almost understand. There's a lone frog somewhere close, croaking a ballad, hoping to get lucky on a Saturday night. A coyote yips somewhere in the hills. Another joins him. Crickets start up a chorus. Smells come alive too, the plants releasing the breath they held through the hot hours of daylight. The creek smells of dank, cold places.

Beautifully written. Beautifully cadenced.

Laura Drake played with balance and sentence length and themed words and phrases too.

Theme:  Almost understand. Lone. Come alive. Releasing a breath. Dank, cold places.

The Last True Cowboy, Laura Drake, 2-time Immersion Grad, Cruise Grad, RITA Winner

Remember:  Read every example out loud. With feeling.

1.  I tighten my muscles, my stance, and my resolve. I know I sound like an ungrateful witch, but I can’t afford risks anymore. I have more than my heart to lose.

Margie-Grads know Laura Drake used the rhetorical device anaphora (Triple Beginnings) in the first sentence. It’s one of many rhetorical devices that makes cadence carry power.

2.  The irritation I pushed down rises like Nana’s bread. This is not high school. I’m not that girl.

You can hear the power of the cadence. You can feel the power of her conviction.

Evil’s Ultimate Huntress, Jenn Windrow, 5-time Immersion Grad

1.  Something sparked in my mind, similar to the sire bond, but stronger. So. Much. Stronger. The urge to bend to Xavier’s will. To crawl to him. Beg him for forgiveness. To be everything he wanted me to be. Subdued and subservient and scared.

Hear how Jenn Windrow played with cadence?

She played with sentence length. And frags. And what I call a Period. Infused. Sentence.  

So. Much. Stronger.

She also used two rhetorical devices:

1.  Alliteration – A lot of alliteration. But it’s not too much. It’s just right.

2.  Polysyndeton – She used polysyndeton with alliteration. I call it poly-alliteration. 

Subdued and subservient and scared.

When polysyndeton is written well, it creates an interesting cadence.

The cadence in every sentence boosted you into the next one. And her poly-alliterative frag at the end was smart and powerful and cadence driven.

2.  An angel, a vicious bodyguard, and the Queen of All Vampires were squatting in my living room. Touching my things. Petting my cat. Having just come from the meeting-from-hell, I wasn’t feeling chatty, but I doubted telling them to remove their hineys from my home would allow me to live through the night.

Look how Jenn Windrow set up the order and length:

  • An angel
  • a vicious bodyguard
  • and the Queen of All Vampires

Creating stair steps from short to long makes the cadence sound right.

She also used structural parallelism:  Touching my things. Petting my cat.

Using structural parallelism in the middle of that paragraph gave it an interesting cadence boost.

The last part of the last sentence carries a compelling cadence too.

3.  Two Paragraphs:

On the scale of Kurt Barlow in Salem’s Lot to Damon in The Vampire Diaries, I’d put you somewhere around David from The Lost Boys.”

That had to be the most obscure reference ever, and what was even worse, I understood every word. I spoke proficient Nathan.

I love the brilliance and cadence and humor hits.

The last two sentences carry almost matching beats. And the last sentence completes the compelling cadence.

The blog is getting long. I’ll share a few examples from Darynda Jones and Elizabeth Essex, but I’ll cut back on my analysis.

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave, Darynda Jones, 2-time Immersion Grad, NYT Bestseller

1.  “What? I would never humor you. I’m not that humorous. You totally earn your keep. And pretty much mine as well. And probably a little of Reyes’s, too. He’s a bit of a slacker.”

2.  “This is so frustrating. We’re looking into her death with no idea why. No idea what we’re looking for. It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack the size of Kansas.”

3. After one hundred years cooped up inside the vacuum of space, I needed to get out. Stretch my legs. See the world. Or well, half a block of Elm Street.

Love the cadence and flow. Love Darynda’s humor hits too.

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

1. But Lady Quince Winthrop seemed impish and open, uncensored by society’s opinions. How damnably, dangerously refreshing.

2.  Three Paragraphs:

“Have you always lied so well, lass? Or have I just forgotten?”

It was the hint of actual admiration in his tone— at least it sounded to her a little like admiration— accompanying the affront that almost made her answer truthfully. Almost.

But she did not. Because she was not suicidal. And because lying was a skill she had cultivated as carefully as an exotic seedling in one of her father’s meticulously tended glass houses. A skill she had mastered out of necessity. A skill as necessary to survival within society as breathing. Or finding the right dressmaker. The trick lay in adding just enough of the truth.

Every sentence by Elizabeth Essex is beautifully cadence driven. She plays with cadence like a kitten plays with yarn. She teases it out, tugs it in, and makes it ripple then pull tight.

You did notice the compelling cadence in my paragraph above. Right?

Just checking.

I hope these examples motivated you to read your work out loud and helped you train your cadence ear.

One more teaching point.

Finesse the cadence in everything in your writing world. Synopses. Query letters. And verbal pitches too.

Small changes can have a big impact. Cadence can make the difference between a fail and a sale.

A big THANK YOU to Multi-Immersion Grads Kimberly Belle, Laura Drake, Jenn Windrow, Darynda Jones, and Elizabeth Essex. If these examples impressed you, check out their books.

Want to learn more about how to make your cadence compelling?

Check out Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More, an online course I created that’s taught in April by Becky Rawnsley.

BLOG GUESTS:  Thank you so much for dropping by the blog today.

Please post a comment or share a ‘Hi Margie!” and you’ll have two chances to be a winner.

You could win a Lecture Packet from me, or an online class from Lawson Writer’s Academy valued up to $100.

Lawson Writer’s Academy – April Classes

  1. Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More – Instructor:  Becky Rawnsley Teaching Margie Lawson’s Course
  2. Revision Boot Camp – Instructor:  Suzanne Purvis
  3. Story Structure Safari – Instructor:  Lisa Miller
  4. Writing the Romance Novel – Instructor:  Shirley Jump
  5. Crazy-Easy, Awesome Author Websites – Instructor:  Lisa Norman
  6. Battling the Basics: The Essentials of Writing – Instructor: Sarah Hamer
  7. Diving Deep into Deep Point of View – Instructor:  Rhay Christou

Please drop by my website to read course descriptions and register:

I’ll draw names for the TWO WINNERS on Sunday night, at 8PM, Mountain Time and post them in the comments section.

Like this blog? Share with your friends. Give it a social media boost. Thank you soooo much!

I always have such fun blogging for WITS.  Big squishy hugs and THANK YOUs to the brilliant WITS gals!

About Margie

Margie Lawson—editor and international presenter—loves to have fun. And teaching writers how to use her deep editing techniques to create page-turners is her kind of fun.

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 2019, in Palm Springs, Denver, Dallas, Cleveland, Columbus, Kansas City, Atlanta, and in Sydney, Melbourne, and Bellebrae, Australia), Cruising Writers cruises, full day and weekend workshops, keynote speeches, online courses, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit:

Interested in attending one of Margie’s 5-day Immersion classes? Click over to her website and check them out.

Interested in Margie presenting a full day workshop for your writing organization? Contact Margie through her website or Facebook message her.

Margie’s newsletter is going out next week. Sign up on her website, and you’ll be in a special drawing for a 5-page deep edit from her!

March 20, 2019

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

In both movies and books, we are inundated with magic sniper rifles that fire with a whisper, bodies that silently crumble to the ground, assassins who shoot successive shots from silenced pistols without a hiccup, and all other manner of . . . fictions.

In our last post, Firearms: Know Your Weapon! we looked at the various types of firearms espionage and crime characters might use and took a bit of the fiction out of fiction. Now let’s turn our attention to silencers and what cannot be silenced. For simplicity’s sake, we will use the terms “suppressor” and “silencer” interchangeably.

The purpose of silencers in the field is to keep anyone from recognizing the sound of a gunshot and screaming, calling 911, or returning fire.

In most cases, the shooter doesn’t care if someone hears the shot as long as they don’t recognize it as a shot. People will normally ignore noises that they hear but don’t associate with gunshots or other dangers. Because of this human tendency, the level of “silencing” our characters need with their firearms depends on their situations.

For example, if a character intends to walk into a functioning steel mill and shoot someone, they don’t need much in the way of silencing. On the other hand, if they want to shoot someone in a library without being noticed, they will want the best silencing available.

So how do we attain maximum silencing?

We’ve all seen characters with cylindrical silencers screwed onto the barrels of pistols which, in fiction, range in size from a Saturday night special to Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum. Then they fire with a pftzzz so quiet that couldn't alert a perky guard dog. But a silencer on the barrel is only the first step. For maximum silencing, one must also consider the things that cannot be silenced.

The Slide

Suppressors can be used on revolvers, but with much less effect than can be achieved with a semiautomatic pistol; therefore, a shooter would most usually use a semiautomatic handgun. (See Firearms: Know Your Weapon!) Semiautomatic pistols have a slide along the top.

This pictured .40 Smith & Wesson has the slide locked open. Note the round in the chamber. The slide comes back when a shot is fired. The spent brass is ejected, another round is fed in, and the slide comes forward, readying the pistol for the next shot. This motion of the slide can’t be silenced. So what is a shooter to do?

When it comes to dealing with slides, size matters, so let’s talk about size for a moment.

Ever wonder why Bond always uses the Walther PPK .380 in the field? It’s not just because it’s cute and German. It’s because the .380 semiautomatic provides enough energy for close-up assassination while still being capable of effective and inexpensive silencing.

In fact, the only more powerful mass-produced auto-loading weapon that can be efficiently and cheaply silenced is the Russian knockoff of the Walther PPK, the Makarov .380, which is like a regular .380 on steroids. With a bullet slightly wider and heavier than that of the standard .380, the Makarov has the maximum energy of any subsonic cartridge that the Soviet firearms specialists could put into a straight blowback semiautomatic design. We’ll get back to that “subsonic” part in a moment.

The other benefit of the .380 is that it has a straight blowback design, unlike larger handguns. With the straight blowback design, the pistol can be modified to manually lock the slide in a closed position so the weapon can fire without causing the rounds to jam. The locked slide prevents the noise of the slide operation along with the sound that escapes the ejection port when the pistol cycles.

The noise of the slide cannot be silenced except by locking it in place.

We know what you’re thinking. . . . But wait! If the slide is locked in place, how does anyone fire a second shot?

So glad you asked.

To fire successive shots in real life, a shooter of a silenced pistol must manually unlock the slide, cycle out the cartridge, and then relock the slide.

Locking and unlocking is accomplished with a small lever that would resemble the safety lever on a slide. With a bit of practice, it can be operated in approximately one second without much effort.

While a pistol with a manual slide lock does not allow for the quickest successive shots, it can be quite discreet, making it ideal for some situations. For example, if the shooter intends to assassinate an individual who is walking home on his usual route after work, the shooter could get a close-up head shot on a side street, and someone walking twenty yards ahead of the target would not notice it.

Another example is if the shooter catches the target alone in their hotel room, home, or office. In such circumstances, a trained assssin could easily take the time to deliver a second “insurance” shot on a high-value target without a hotel maid in the hallway or people in the next room hearing anything.

Writing Tip: One danger to silencing properly with a handgun is that the shooter will forget to lock the slide after cycling in the second round. The weapon will still be suppressed, but it will still make more noise than it would if the slide were locked. If you need a character to make a mistake while firing with a silencer, this is a logical one to make.

The Sonic Boom

Note the emphasis on the word “subsonic” in the section above. That’s because the crack of a bullet breaking the sound barrier is impossible to silence. That is true no matter what firearm or suppression equipment is used. As a result, for the maximum silencing, it is important to use subsonic cartridges.

The Falling Brass

The sound of falling brass is also impossible to silence. Only shooters in movies don’t have to worry about that ping of flying brass hitting objects or the floor.

To prevent the brass from falling, shooters can carry specially designed brass catchers that they can attach to the pistols. However, the act of attaching them can slow down a shooter. Also, the catcher, itself, is one more piece of evidence that can be found on a shooter, and less evidence is always better.

A more down-and-dirty trick, so to speak, is to use a sock as a brass catcher. However, there are three problems with this method. First, it blows out the end of the sock, which could lead to the brass falling anyway. Second, the sock could catch in the slide and jam it. And third, the sock covered in gunpowder and residue is one more piece of evidence. So as a general rule, most professionals risk the sound of falling brass.

We know what you’re thinking . . . Isn’t the brass evidence?

Not so much as one might think. That’s because an intelligent professional uses “clean brass.” Clean brass is brass that would not be identified to the country of origin, and it would have no fingerprints, so the shooter doesn’t have to worry about leaving it behind.

The Falling Body

The third thing that cannot be silenced is the sound of a falling body. Dead bodies drop, and they aren’t always conveniently located in an open space with a thick carpet. They can smash into furniture and knock things over. They can break glass and thump into floors and walls. If in a bathroom and the body falls against a cast-iron tub, it makes a loud, heavy ringing sound.

Catching a body to prevent the noise of the fall poses the equally risky problem of the shooter being covered in blood. Bloody people tend to have trouble blending in when walking out of a building or down a street. It’s just an inconvenient truth that bodies fall where they die.

Writing Tip: An assassin’s inconvenient truth is an author’s plotline. While you could have dead bodies collapse in neat little heaps on a shag rug, you could also use them to punch up your plot. Have fun with them. Let them break things, tip out of windows, fall onto hot stoves, or even create a domino effect that leads to widespread disaster on the set. You’re not likely to go too far with it.

Bottom Line: Three things cannot be silenced—the shells being ejected, the crack of the sound barrier, and the drop of a falling body. Which brings us to the fourth thing that cannot be silenced—the savvy reader who sends angry e-mails if an author gets this wrong.

Do your characters use silencers? What sort of problems do your shooters have with sounds?

* * * * * *

About Bayard & Holmes

Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes of Bayard & Holmes are the authors of espionage tomes and international spy thrillers. Learn more about the firearms of spycraft in their latest release, SPYCRAFT: Essentials. Designed for writers, SPYCRAFT: Essentials addresses the functions and jurisdictions of the main US intelligence organizations, the spook personality and character, tradecraft techniques, surveillance, the most common foibles of spy fiction, and much more. It is available in digital format and print at Kindle, Amazon, and Kobo.

Visit Piper and Jay at their site, For notices of their upcoming releases, subscribe to the Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing. You can also contact Bayard & Holmes at their Contact page, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Piper Bayard or Bayard & Holmes, or at their email,

March 18, 2019

By Susan Haught

Have you ever watched a child blow bubbles with a little wand and a bottle of soapy water? Perhaps you’ve taken a turn yourself. If you have, you’ll know there’s something magical about bubbles.

When my son was little, we’d spend Easter with friends, and every year the Easter bunny would leave a bottle of soap bubbles in the kids’ baskets. A dozen or more children would dance around in the warm spring sun and blow wand after wand of bubbles. The air would be filled with giggling kids, barking dogs, and the occasional bout of tears. Bubbles are mesmerizing, and I’d soon find my imagination drifting away and the world around me would disappear. Until someone popped my imaginary bubble.

As writers, I think we all create some sort of “bubble” where our fictional characters live, talk, play, and generally wreak havoc on our sanity, but it’s also a place where we turn off the world around us. Tune out the other humans who share our space. Escape life’s distractions. Retreat into our fictional world. Inside our bubble—however you choose to define it—is the place where the magic happens. And it’s proven once our train of thought is interrupted, it takes several minutes to reconnect, to recreate our imaginary world.

I was lucky. We have a den in our home, hubby was still teaching, and our son was away at college. Hours of quiet. Hours of happy writing. No one to pop my bubble when I sat down to write.

And then hubby decided to retire.

His naturally loud fifth-grade teacher voice was perfect for ten-year-olds, but his inside voice failed to make it home with his last paycheck. Reminding him I needed quiet didn’t work. He took up the grocery shopping chore to help out but called an average of three times for a six-item list. And somewhere between “I’m not signing my contract this year” and “Today’s my first day of retirement”, he forgot how to read the sign on the outside of the den that said Do Not Disturb. The day he tiptoed into the den and said, “Shhh…I don’t want to disturb you…” and proceeded to use the shredder was the day I was done playing nice.

Having a space to write is essential, but it doesn’t have to mean robbing a bank to add a room to your house. It can be as simple as the corner of the sofa at a designated time with a set of headphones and your favorite music. Some pack up their laptops and head to a coffee shop. One author I know cleaned out a closet and made it her writing “cave”. Another told her family if she was in bed with her laptop, she was unavailable-period. And still another fixed up a place in her basement. Reminded me of The Book Thief meets Bates Motel, but it worked—her kids refused to go down there.

Defining your needs is the first step to claiming your own writing space.

Then, decide on a budget and what it will take to make it happen—it can be as inexpensive as a thrift store desk and painting it your favorite color, or as elaborate as turning an extra bedroom into the ultimate escape. Or hey, that treehouse I saw on Pinterest might catch your eye.

When you’re finally able to sit down in your space, it’s a good idea to turn off distractions (who doesn’t get lost on Pinterest or FB?) so you can retreat into your “bubble”. A soap bubble is fragile. Once the pearlescent surface is touched, POOF! it’s gone. And so is your concentration. And in order to stay there, it’s essential you aren’t disturbed. It may take some time, but your favorite humans will get the hint.

Unless you’re married to my human. You remember, the guy with a master’s degree in education who suddenly forgot how to read?

Six months into his retirement I had written very little. Deadlines weren’t met. I was cranky and angry at him for invading my precious time day in and day out. He whooped for the Diamondbacks. Watched rodeo and discussed it loudly with the dog. Whistled. Ran the vacuum. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand the “bubble” concept. Something had to give.

We brainstormed, even thought about finishing the attic. Adding a room (eeek!) was out of the question. I came up with a solution that fit our budget and my needs, and two months later, I vacated the den. Now my writing space is an 8’ x 12’ She-Shed in the backyard. It’s a Tuff Shed he and our neighbor finished inside, and I decorated in a beach theme. It has heat and AC, a coffee and wine bar, bookshelves galore, and a spacious desk. The best part? He knows I’m not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire or he’s bleeding from an artery. My bubble stays blissfully intact.

When I came up with the idea, it didn’t take a whole lot of convincing that this was the ideal solution. Hubby decided my 96 square foot sanctuary at a cost of $8,000 was cheaper than a divorce. 

What’s your idea of the perfect writing space?

Susan Haught writes emotionally powerful stories of family, friendship, and the healing power of love, with characters in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. A multi award-winning novelist, Australian black liquorice connoisseur, and hopeless coffee & wine addict, Susan believes Love is Ageless and has the power to change lives--one step, one touch, one kiss at a time.

Susan is the author of the Award-winning Whisper of the Pines series—A Promise of Fireflies, In the Shadow of Fate, A Thousand Butterfly Wishes, The Other Side of Broken, and Outside the Lines.

When Susan isn’t writing, you’ll find her burying the evidence of a notorious brown thumb, teaching her hubby the difference between red leaf and romaine lettuce, or curled up with someone else’s words.

Won’t you join Susan for coffee?




March 15, 2019

By Gwen Hernandez

Many Scrivener users aren’t familiar with the split screen feature, and if they are, they don’t realize its potential.

Introducing Split Screen

The Split Screen feature allows you to, well, split your screen. You can divide the single Editor pane into two panes, either horizontally or vertically.

Here are a few ways to use it:

  • View the end of the previous scene while working on the opening of the next one.
  • View another part of the current document while working on it.
  • Compare two versions of a scene, either in Snapshots (Mac only for now), or if you saved the previous version in a separate document.
  • Copy text from the same or another document without losing your place.
  • Refer to research files or photos while you write.
  • View your manuscript's structure in the Corkboard or Outliner in one pane, while you write in the other.

In my experience, the main source of confusion with Split Screen is that, initially, both panes display the same document (see images below). That can be handy for referring back to an earlier point.

But if you don’t want to view two locations in the same document, you can easily choose to view something else in one of the panes.

Splitting the Editor

To split the Editor, select a document in the Binder, and then do one of the following: Mac: Click the Toggle Split button in the upper right corner of the Editor (see image below). Hold the Option key on your keyboard to switch the split button between horizontal and vertical. Scrivener will remember your most recent orientation choice until you change it again.

Windows: Click either the Horizontal Split or Vertical Split button in the upper right corner of the Editor (see image below).

The Editor splits into two panes with the selected document displayed in both.

NOTE: Each pane can have separate settings, such as Zoom level, ruler display, Page view (Scrivener 3), and Focus (Scrivener 3).

Working with Split Screen

Each pane has its own header (see image below). The active pane’s header is blue. This is the pane that will be affected when you select a document or adjust menu settings. The inactive pane’s header is gray.

Choosing the Active Pane

To designate the active pane, click anywhere in that pane’s editor. If it wasn’t already the active pane, the header will turn blue.

Assigning a Document to the Active Pane

Once you’ve designated the active pane, click any document in the Binder to view it in the active pane.

Viewing a Group in the Active Pane

To view a group of files in the active pane, select the desired folder (or multiple-selection of files). By default, you’ll see the Corkboard view for that folder, as shown below. You can choose the Outliner or Scrivenings (multiple document) view from the toolbar or the View menu.

Adjusting the Split

To adjust the relative split of the panes, drag the bar between them.

Locking the Contents of a Pane

To prevent yourself from accidentally changing what’s viewed in a pane (by clicking something in the Binder while that pane is active), you can lock it. Here’s how:

  1. Mac v3: Right-click the header of the pane you want to lock, or go to Navigate>Editor. Windows, and Mac v2: Click the icon in the header of the pane you want to lock, or go to View>Editor.
  • 2. Choose Lock in Place. The header turns pink/salmon to denote that the pane is locked.

3. Repeat for the other pane, if desired.

4. Unlock by repeating Step 1 for each locked pane.

Exiting Split Screen

Choose No Split button for whichever pane you want to keep viewing.

That’s split screen! Is it more useful than you thought? Can you think of how you might use it? What Scrivener questions do you have for me?

March 13, 2019

By Tex Thompson

Striving scriveners. Intrepid introverts. Fellow fearless fictioneers. I am so honored to write for Writers in the Storm today. I’ve recently enjoyed a ridiculous near-death experience that I think may help you make a serious, profound change (in your life or in your work) … and funnily enough, it involves actual writers in an actual storm.

The event we call Writers in the Field came from a simple idea: a thirteen-acre, mostly-outdoor annual weekend experience where writers can actually make, use, handle, and DO the things they’re writing about. We shoot bows and arrows, work mock crime scenes, handle horses, study ballistics and poisons, try on period garments and armor – the whole nine yards.

It was fantastically successful during its first year in 2017, and we were so excited to bring out even more experts and hands-on sessions in 2018. We worked hard on it all year long, promoted and planned it for months on end, and… well, you know how announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh?

Yeah – He busted a gut all over us. We got over a foot of rain in 24 hours. Rivers of mud. Flooded roads. Just an absolutely Biblical deluge.

Y’all, I was sure we were sunk (especially after the food truck fell in a ditch and blocked the entrance). I was SURE we would have to cancel, refund, and go bankrupt.

And then the most amazing thing happened.

A writer wandered up to the ticket booth and said “is this where we check in?”

And then another two. And then a group of three. A dozen more. A hundred more. They were streaming in, y’all – parking out on the main road and hiking a quarter-mile in the mud and the pouring rain. And they were READY.

We couldn’t believe it. It was the most incredible thing. And even as we frantically cancelled, swapped, postponed, and slapdash-surgeried our Saturday schedule around every new contingency, the writers joyfully took in everything we offered – and started engineering novel experiences of their own.

‘Foot selfies’ became a hot thing. So did full-body mud-shots. And as our grounds crew tamped down straw-and-branch walkways and ditch-witched cars out of the muck, the last thing they expected was an eager note-taking audience.

And then the tornado hit… but that’s another story.

And that’s when the light bulb came on, y’all. That’s when the big idea hit. I realized that my job was never to control or dictate what kind of experience writers would have at our event. My job was to offer them a place where they COULD have a new experience.

I’ve come to all sorts of conclusions since then. About what a joy it is to discover your own resilience, and how deeply our under-brains are stimulated by the raw and natural world, and (paradoxically) how much less fragile we feel whenever we escape the rut of our daily lives. More than anything, though, I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves or someone we love is a place where new experiences are possible.

After all, that is literally the core of the Hero’s Journey, isn’t it? Powerful, transformational change only happens once we leave our ordinary world behind… even if only for a few hours. And you don’t need a capital-E event in order to treat yourself to a singular, electrifying, inertia-smashing change of scenery. They’re literally all around us.

Three thoughts, then:

  1. When you need to think new thoughts, put yourself in a new place.
  2. Radical changes in behavior happen with radical changes in environment.
  3. As a storyteller, you are already more powerful and resilient than most. But you will never discover your true strength from comfort and safety of your own cozy hobbit-hole.

That’s the thought I’d like to leave you with. You have already weathered every storm that’s come your way – but even more wonderful things can happen when you willingly venture out to meet them.

Also, grocery bags make surprisingly effective sock-condoms. Don’t ask me how I know.

So What do you think? Have you ever survived an experience to take something very different away from it than you planned?


About Tex


Arianne "Tex" Thompson was once described as "an explosion of 52 enthusiastic kittens latching onto everything at once." In addition to writing the 'Children of the Drought' epic fantasy Western series, Tex is the founder and 'chief instigator' for WORD - Writers Organizations 'Round Dallas. When she's not leading the charge at home in Dallas, Tex brings her particular brand of 'red-penthusiasm' to conferences, conventions, and workshops all over the country - as an egregiously enthusiastic, endlessly energetic one-woman stampede. Find her online at The Tex Files!