Programming note: Before we get on to Margie’s last blog with us, I just wanted to announce our second annual Author Crush Month. In honor of Valentines Day in February we are taking the entire month to have our favorite authors blog with us about their writing routines. (Use our search tool to find our “author crush” authors from last year!) It’s going to be a fantastic month, you won’t want to miss it.
Now, onto Margie Lawson! We are so going to miss her after this fabulous month of revision. In our behind-the scenes correspondence I’ve been calling it our Margie Extravaganza! Margie has been a joy to host. She is one hard-working lady! I know you have all benefited from her blogs this month. Here she is with her final word:
More Secrets to Writing Irresistible Fiction
MARGIE’S KILLER 5Q!
The Five Question Scene Checklist
My Five Question Scene Checklist is tough, tough, tough. It’s lethal.
I developed my Five Question Scene Check list (5Q) for writers to use as a tool to assess all the facets of Margie-style deep editing. That’s psychologically anchored deep editing.
If you know me, you know I’m a Deep Edit guru. I analyze people, books, characters, plot, writing craft . . . Analysis is my world.
Most of what I teach in my editing courses is what I’ve created. It’s not your 10th grade English teacher’s editing.
I dig deep into my 5Q in the Deep Editing course I teach on-line in May. The 5Q consists of five questions. It’s the subsets that are killers.
The multiple subset questions make you analyze, assess, probe, and justify each line, paragraph, page, and scene.
Margie’s Killer 5 Q:
The Five Question Scene Checklist
1—ANY MISSED OPPORTUNITIES?
— Opening Hook?
— Anchored Reader in POV?
— Oriented Reader to Setting and Function?
— Used Cadence?
— Optional: Used Rhetorical Device?
— Made Opening Compelling in Other Ways? How?
Used Which Rhetorical Devices?
The EDITS System – Balance?
– DABS: — Dialogue Cues
— Body Language
MISSED OTHER OPPORTUNITIES to Add Power or Clarity?
Is dialogue character-specific? Tight? Natural? Sentence fragments?
Can you put NYT in the margin by a line or paragraph that is so stellar it will boost you toward the New York Times Bestseller list?
2— CAN YOU TIGHTEN THE PAGE, SCENE, CHAPTER?
Walking the Dog?
Could you delete a section and replace with a narrative line or paragraph, and still keep your reader hooked – and informed — and pick up the pace?
3— WHAT WOULD ENHANCE EMOTION?
Is the POV character’s emotional set shared with the reader. How? Where?
Add Power Words?
Add more Body Language and Dialogue Cues? Specify:
Rewrite Body Language and Dialogue Cues to make them fresh?
Add more Visceral Responses? Write them fresh?
Add more Emotional Hits?
— Take Basics to Complex?
— Complex to Empowered?
Add Power Internalizations?
Does a Turning Point need to be Empowered?
Hook at end of scene or chapter?
4— HOW CAN YOU UP THE STAKES?
On every page, ask yourself, WHO CARES?
How can you make the problem count more?
Can you add a complication?
Can you make the situation worse?
Can you empower the writing to immerse the reader in the sentence? Paragraph? Page? Scene?
5—HOW DOES IT RATE?
1) Scrutinize each line. Do you need every word? Does every word work?
2) When each line passes inspection, place a red check mark in the right margin by the last word in that line.
Is every line checked?
3) RATE EACH PAGE: Choose 1 – 10, 10 being your best work. Write the number at the top of each page. Circle it. Is it a 10?
If you can’t give that page a TEN – Why not?
What do you need to add?
What do you need to delete?
JUSTIFY HOW YOU RATED IT.
If it doesn’t rate a 10, tweak it. Rewrite. Get tough. Rewrite again. Apply the 5Q again.
When you get it to a 9.7 – 10, KNOW WHY.
Be prepared to defend your rating with your critique partners.
BLOG GUESTS – ARE YOU STILL BREATHING?
Let’s dig deep into three excerpts. I’ll analyze the first one.
Here’s an amplified example from Harlan Coben, LONG LOST. My Deep Editing Analysis is below the example.
I was about to crack wise—something like “tell all your friends” or “sigh, another satisfied customer”—but something in her tone made me pull up. Something in her tone overwhelmed me and made me ache. I squeezed her hand and stayed silent and then I watched her walk away.
1. Showed WHAT WASN’T HAPPENING, what he didn’t say
2. Uses DIALOGUE CUE – describes how the dialogue was delivered
3. SPECIFICITY – throughout the passage
4. Rhetorical Device – A DOUBLE. I made up that term – DOUBLE. SOMETHING IN HER TONE is an intentional echo. It’s almost the rhetorical device, anaphora — repetition of first word or phrases of three phrases or sentences in a row. Powerful.
5. Second part of the DOUBLE – goes DEEPER. Taps emotion.
6. TONE is used as a STIMULUS – and the reader gets FIVE RESPONSES from her TONE: pull up (stop), overwhelmed, ache, squeezed hand, stayed silent, watched her walk away (did not follow her)
7. POV character shared what he intended to do, but didn’t – because of her TONE.
8. Rhetorical Device: AMPLIFICATION: developed emotion and showed all those responses
9. COMMUNICATION with HAPTICS – touch
10. Rhetorical Device: POLYSYNDETON – Last sentence uses multiple conjunctions and no commas. Makes the read more imperative.
11. CADENCE – strong.
12. Show EMOTIONAL SET of POV character changing from playful to angst
13. TAPS EMOTION in reader
14. FRESH WRITING
15. HOOKED ME. DRAWS ME INTO THE STORY – Makes me want to read more.
Tana French, THE LIKENESS:
My hand was on the door handle when for a split second out of nowhere I was terrified, blue-blazing terrified, fear dropping straight through me like a jagged black stone falling fast. I’d felt this before, in the limbo instants before I moved out of my aunt’s house, lost my virginity, took my oath as a police officer: those instants when the irrevocable thing you wanted so much suddenly turns real and solid, inches away and speeding at you, a bottomless river rising and no way back once it’s crossed. I had to catch myself from crying out like a little kid drowning in terror, I don’t want to do this any more.
Robert Crais, THE TWO MINUTE RULE
Wally came over and touched Holman’s arm with fingers as light as a breath.
“He was killed last night. I’m sorry, man. I’m really, really sorry.”
Holman heard the words: he saw the pain in Wally’s eyes and felt the concern in Wally’s touch, but Wally and the room and the world left Holman behind like one car pulling away from another on a flat desert highway, Holman hitting the brakes, Wally hitting the gas, Holman watching the world race away.
That’s powerful writing.
It’s cotton-candy-on-your-tongue writing. It makes you want more and more and more.
It’s the caliber of writing you find in some New York Times Bestsellers. It’s the caliber of writing you will find in books by Harlan Coben, Tana French, and Robert Crais. ))
BLOG GUESTS: It’s your turn! I’m giving you options.
Option One: Analyze the excerpt by Tana French or the one by Robert Crais. Share something Tana or Robert did right.
Option Two: Analyze the excerpt by Robert Crais. Share something Robert did right.
Option Three: Apply one or more questions from the 5Q to a page or a scene in your Work In Progress. What did you learn?
I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll respond as time allows during my work day. I’ll be on-line in the evening (Mountain Time).
POST A COMMENT – AND YOU MAY WIN A LECTURE PACKET!
I will draw a name for a Lecture Packet, a $22 value, at 9PM Mountain Time. Winners may choose a Lecture Packet from one of my six on-line courses. Lecture Packets are available for all my courses through Paypal from my website, www.MargieLawson.com.
1. Empowering Characters’ Emotions
2. Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More
3. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
4. Powering Up Body Language in Real Life:
Projecting a Professional Persona When Pitching and Presenting
5. Digging Deep into the EDITS System
6. Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors
Margie Lawson —psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter—developed innovative editing systems and deep editing techniques for writers.
Her Deep Editing tools are used by all writers, from newbies to NYT Bestsellers. She teaches writers how to edit for psychological power, how to hook the reader viscerally, how to create a page-turner.
Over four thousand writers have learned Margie’s psychologically-based deep editing material. In the last five years, she presented fifty-four full day Master Classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Lectures from each of Margie’s on-line courses are offered as Lecture Packets through PayPal from her web site. For more information on courses, lecture packets, master classes, and 3-day Immersion Master Class sessions, visit: www.MargieLawson.com .
FYI: BRENDA NOVAK’S DIABETES AUCTION!
NYT Bestseller, Brenda Novak, donates an amazing chunk of her life to fundraising for diabetes research. She selflessly gives months of her energy, creativity, and what would have been writing time, family time, self-time to her DIABETES AUCTION.
For writers – it’s a warm-your-heart win-win. Bid on one of the hundreds of items – support diabetes research and you may win an experience that changes your life. A plotting lunch with an agent or NYT bestseller at a national conference could contribute to a contract for you.
If you’re not familiar with this auction — it’s a gold mine for writers!
My husband and I love to support the Diabetes Auction. With close to 1000 donations, if I don’t mention them . . . you might miss them.
Yikes – a Missed Opportunity!
1. A set of six Lecture Packets
2. A 50 page Triple Pass Deep Edit Critique
3. Registration for a Write At Sea Master Class by Marge Lawson on Deep Editing Power, April 4 -8, 2011; donation by Margie Lawson and Julia Hunter
4. A FLYING GETAWAY FOR TWO
You select the destination – any place within 600 nautical miles from Denver.
A weekend, you and a friend, plus my pilot-husband flying our four-seater plane, me, and a two-hour deep editing consult. The consult is on the ground.
THE DIABETES AUCTION runs from MAY 1ST to MAY 31ST. You can tour the
Diabetes Auction site now. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/
Brenda Novak is my hero. What a way to give back.
Thank you for your time – and thank you for joining us today!