Hot News Flash! Multi multi Margie Grad, Laura Drake, has just been announced as a double RITA Finalist (for those who don’t know, that’s the Oscars for Romance)! See what a little Margie can do?
By Margie Lawson
A big THANK YOU to Laura Drake and Fae Rowen for inviting me on WITS , and hugs to Sharla for loading it on the blog.
Do you watch NCIS?
I love giving my brain a weekly dose of NCIS. Millions of others love the show too. The stories are intriguing. The characters are deep and quirky. And Jethro Gibbs, aka Mark Harmon, has rules.
Gibbs has lots of rules. Over 50 rules.
I’m spinning-off Margie-Rules from Gibbs’ rules. My next fifteen (or fifty) blogs will feature a different Margie-Rule.
I appreciate the NCIS writers for their award-winning writing, and for giving Gibbs rules.
Gibbs’ Rule # 8: Never take anything for granted.
Today’s Blog: Margie-Rule #1: Never Take Any Word for Granted.
Writers like words. Writers like how words sound, how they look, how they roll. They select words for their connotations, their subliminal messages, their power. They choose words that fit their characters like “that ain’t no matter” fits Huck Finn.
Writers also play with word-play.
Snicker, snicker. That last sentence was a SHOW and TELL sentence. I played with words in my word-play sentence.
Yep. I’m playing with you.
I just talked to you. Talking to the reader is what I call Intentional Authorial Intrusion.
I’ll share an example of Harlan Coben playing with words, and playing with the reader, in an Intentional Authorial Intrusion.
Long Lost, Harlan Coben, NYT Bestseller
From Page 1:
Terese Collins. Imagery flooded in—her Class-B-felony bikini, that private island, the sun-kissed beach, her gaze that could melt teeth, her Class-B-felony bikini.
It’s worth mentioning the bikini twice.
Hear Harlan talking to you?
Harlan Coben shared two Humor Hits too.
- Gaze that could melt teeth
- It’s worth mentioning the bikini twice.
Now that we’ve had some fun, we’ll dig deeper into never taking any word for granted and we’ll have more fun.
These authors used just the right words to make their writing strong.
Nothing Sweeter, Laura Drake, Immersion Grad
- The shiny, pink baby-doll dress hit her upper thigh, and her clunky heels made her feet look like canapés on the ends of toothpicks—tattooed toothpicks.
Fresh writing! Humor Hit! Strong visual!
The Sweet Spot, Laura Drake, Immersion Grad
- Disaster had hit them like a Kansas cyclone, and instead of her and Jimmy hunkering down together to weather the storm, it tore them apart. She’d poked her head in a Valium bottle, and Jimmy’d lit out for another woman’s bed. Worse yet, a girl’s bed.Frozen frame pictures of Jimmy, knocking boots with the little blonde shot through Char’s brain like machine gun fire.
Deep Editing Analysis:
Laura loaded that paragraph with psychologically powered words and phrases: disaster, cyclone, tore, apart, Valium, another woman’s bed, worse, girl’s bed, knocking boots, shot machine gun fire.
She contrasted what could have happened, hunkering down together, to what really happened, it tore them apart.
She used three rhetorical devices:
1. Simile: like a Kansas cyclone 2.
2. Simile: like machine gun fire
3. Parallelism: She’d poked her head in a Valium bottle, and Jimmy’d lit out for another woman’s bed.
She used story-themed words:hunkering down, poked, lit out,knocking boots
Dirty Magic, Jaye Wells, 2-time Immersion Grad
1. The lightning-fast change in topic nearly gave me whiplash.
Jaye could have written something predictable like:
He changed the topic too fast.
But she gave the reader a line that carries a Humor Hit and lots of energy.
2. A quickening began in my middle and expanded outward, heating my limbs and hardening my resolve.
Deep Editing Analysis:
Jaye opened that sentence with a fresh visceral response: A quickening began in my middle
She amplified that basic visceral three times:
1. Made the visceral larger: expanded outward
2. Added another visceral response: heating my limbs
3. Added what I call a Power Internalization: hardening my resolve
Jaye Wells used three rhetorical devices:
Parallelism: heating my limbs and hardening my resolve.
Alliteration: heating, hardening
Zeugma: heating my limbs and hardening my resolve
Crash Into You, Katie McGarry, Multi-Margie-Grad
1. My throat tightens and I ignore it. Nausea is not welcome in my car. Nor are shallow breaths and sweaty palms and disoriented thoughts.
The reader knows the POV character feels like she’s going to throw up.
Katie McGarry uses the key words, but she structures her sentences in an unexpected way. Fresh writing!
2. Most people underestimate the bleached-blond, skinny son of a bitch, but that mistake could prove lethal for your billfold and your health.
Deep Editing Analysis:
Shares a character description in a character assassination.
I played with a play on words again. 😉
Psychologically Powerful Words: bitch, mistake, lethal, billfold
Alliteration: bleached-blond, bitch, but, billfold
Zeugma: for your billfold and your health
Find Me, Romily Bernard, Multi-Margie-Grad
1. Now that Carson is gone, my skin is trying to shiver loose from my bones.
Fresh, fresh, fresh writing.
Romily could have written lines like:
Goose bumps covered my arms.
I pulled my sweater around me, but I kept shivering.
We’ve all read those clichéd lines dozens of times.
Romily gave the reader a fresh line that carries interest and power and a fresh visceral response that could make them shiver.
2. Weird how my voice sounds flat and confident while my insides are churning and liquid.
Deep Editing Analysis:
Romily included a visceral response: my insides are churning and liquid.
She used Double Parallelism: the first half of sentence to the last half of sentence, and flat and confident to churning and liquid.
She also showed the incongruence in her body language (dialogue cue) to her visceral response.
Wick kept her voice strong. She was scared but she didn’t want her little sister to know.
Enjoy the examples below from Christa Allan and Joan Swan. They don’t take any words for granted. They select words that add power.
Test of Faith, Christa Allan, Multi-Margie-Grad
1. One of those emotions must have busted past my logical self because, in the corner of my brain, it jumped and clapped its hands at the notion of “get together soon.”
2. He mirrored his mother’s one-size-fits-all face, and between the two of them, I could have been on a tour through the wax museum.
3. My mother and her attitude arrived close to ten o’clock as expected. She must have asked Cam what to wear because she looked uncharacteristically unfrumpy.
4. My anxiety elevator went to the tenth floor, but left my stomach on the ground floor.
Four paragraphs later:
My heart constricted and the elevator swooshed to the penthouse, leaving me in the basement. Her news torched the hopeful future I’d built and placed under my pillow every night. I was collateral damage, and no one was going to come to my rescue.
Rush, Joan Swan, NYT Bestseller, 3-time Immersion Grad
1. That damn fire had destroyed everything good in her life—stolen her husband, split her team, annihilated her sense of security and purpose.
2. His voice curled around her, as soft and warm as the room.
3. A hole pricked in the bubble of her serenity. Her peaceful inner world pulled away from the walls of her mind like ripping wallpaper.
4. Whether dream, alternate universe, or reality, he wasn’t in it alone. And his gut told him he wasn’t safe. His team wasn’t safe. Jessica wasn’t safe.
5. Q didn’t know if it was the words or the emotion behind the words, but something reached in to his gut and yanked hard. Then something else swept in. Overwhelming affection. Crushing gratitude. An awesome sense of brotherhood.
Wow. Talented writers.
I recommend reading all those examples again, out loud. The cadence in every example is incredibly compelling.
BLOG GUESTS: NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
Post a comment and you could win an online course from Lawson Writer’s Academy!
1. Story Structure Safari — Instructor: Lisa Miller
2. Taming Twitter and Facebook Too! — Instructor: Julie Rowe
3. From blah to beats: Giving Your Chapter a Pulse — Instructor: Rhay Christou
In May, I’m teaching A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop.
I’ll post the name of the winner on the blog on Thursday, 8:00 PM Mountain Time.
Margie Lawson —psychotherapist, editor, and international presenter – teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. Margie has presented over eighty full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches with taking their writing several levels higher—to publication, awards, and bestseller lists.
To learn about Lawson Writer’s Academy, Margie’s 4-day Immersion Master Classes (in Colorado, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, San Antonio, Houston, and on Whidbey Island), her full day Master Class presentations, keynote speeches, on-line courses, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit www.MargieLawson.com.