Have you registered for our #CAC17 Master Class yet?
Margie Lawson will present a full day Master Class on March 30th, the day before the conference. Make sure to plan to come early for this special session and REGISTER NOW.
Enrollment is limited, and seats are starting to fill up.
Margie has presented over a 150 full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches with taking their writing to publication, awards, and bestseller lists.

Margie took time out of her busy schedule (teaching around the world) to write a guest post on some of the topics she will cover in the #CAC17 full day Master Class.

Do you have a question, a comment, or an editing experience to share? Post a comment and you have TWO CHANCES to WIN a lecture packet! 

Scroll down below the related posts, and you’ll see the comments section.

Rhythm and Cadence and Beats, Oh Yes!

By Margie Lawson Editor, International Presenter

Reading a book with flat-lined cadence is like watching a movie on mute.

Most writers know about the power of rhythm and cadence and beats. But most don’t use that power in every sentence.

A compelling cadence is more than varying sentence lengths. More than using ­­­­­standalone words.

A compelling cadence carries power on the page. It propels readers through paragraphs and passages and pages.

Read your work out loud, with feeling, and you’ll hear what beats work well, and what beats are missing.

Many rhetorical devices are cadence-driven. Knowing which rhetorical devices boost cadence, pick up pace, make the read imperative, and 947 more cool things, loads your writing toolbox with super-powered tools.

Check out these cadence-driven examples.

The Ones We Trust, Kimberly Belle, Award-Winning MIRA Author, Multi-Margie-Grad

1. Gabe’s good looks are real and rugged and raw, and now that I’ve seen both brothers up close, I’d choose Gabe over Zach any day.

RD Combo: Polysyndeton (multiple conjunctions, no punctuation) and Alliteration

2. The silence that spins out lasts forever. It’s the kind of silence that wraps around you like a shroud, the kind that turns the air thick and solid, the kind that makes you want to hear the answer as much as you dread it.

Kimberly Belle could have written: The room went silent.

I’m glad she decided to empower that emotionally-loaded scene dynamic.

Rhetorical Devices: Amplification (silence) and anaphora (the kind, the kind, the kind)

3. My heart races and my skin tingles and my blood pressure explodes like a grenade.

Rhetorical Devices: Three visceral responses are powered with polysyndeton (multiple conjunctions, no punctuation) and a simile.

The Blessing of No, Megan Menard, Multi-Margie-Grad

  1. Luke had a machine-gun laugh that fired about every third word.
  1. I picked up a French fry. It was a slender blonde, tall and weepy. I named the fry Tanya and chomped off its head.

Those examples carry interest and power and are perfectly cadenced. The second example uses a metaphor and structural parallelism. It reveals a truth in a humor hit that could make us laugh or cry.

Test of Faith, Christa Allan, Award-Winning Author, Multi-Margie-Grad 

  1. “If. Faith. Can. Come. Live. With Me?” I heaved every word out of my brain and into my mouth. I felt like someone regaining consciousness in an unfamiliar room or house or life.

Christa Allan stylized that dialogue by using a Period. Infused. Sentence. That’s what I named it. Her dialogue cue is amplified, amplified, amplified stellar.
She used an RD combo in the last sentence: polysyndeton and zeugma.

What’s zeugma?

I’ll SHOW not TELL. I know you’ll get it.

My teaching-zeugma sentence:

Margie grabbed her purse, her keys, and her steely resolve.

You got it!

This 2-point version is an example of zeugma too:

Margie grabbed her purse and her steely resolve.

Now you know the rhetorical device zeugma.

  1. This dinner was the Indy 500 version of returning to the track after a pit stop, except that the finish line was Logan, and there was only one first place.

Ah… Metaphors and power words and hope all themed, propelled by a compelling cadence.

Red-Headed Stepchild, Jaye Wells, USA Today Bestseller

Jaye Wells wrote this paragraph when she was in a full day workshop I taught for Dallas Area Romance Authors in 2007. I asked all the participants to write an example of anaphora.

Anaphora — Repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of three or more successive phrases or clauses or sentences. The first three must be in a row.

The paragraph she wrote in class became the first paragraph in the first chapter of Red-Headed Stepchild, her debut Urban Fantasy.

Digging graves is hell on a manicure, but I was taught good vampires clean up after every meal. So I ignored the chipped onyx polish. I ignored the dirt caked under my nails. I ignored my palms, rubbed raw and blistering. And when a snapping twig announced David’s arrival, I ignored him too.

Deep Edit Analysis:

Anaphora: I ignored, I ignored, I ignored, I ignored

Three Humor Hits:

    • Digging graves is hell on a manicure
    • good vampires clean up after every meal
    • I ignored him too

Power Words — Words that carry psychological power: graves, hell, vampires, clean up, ignored, ignored, dirt, ignored, raw, blistering, arrival, ignored him

What does the reader learn in those 53 words?

1. She’s digging a grave. We can infer she killed someone.
2. She’s a vampire.
3. She gets manicures.
4. She’s Goth.
5. She’s been digging that grave for a while.

She’s not concerned about David catching her digging a grave.

In that one short, opening paragraph, Jaye Wells deepened characterization, shared a strong and fun voice, and made the reader want to read more. That’s smart writing. The kind that impresses agents and editors and readers and reviewers.

Every example in this blog carries a compelling cadence. That pleasing cadence speaks to the reader’s subconscious. Cadence has the same impact on the reader that a movie sound track has on a viewer.

Read the first sentence of this blog OUT LOUD:

            Reading a book with flat-lined cadence is like watching a movie on mute.

Do you hear those perfect beats?

I could have written:

            It is critical to pay attention to cadence.

No cadence-driven power.

Deep Editing Caveat:  Most of the examples I shared in this blog were amplified. I’m not suggesting that every sentence should be powered up, or made special in some way. That would be gagifying. 

Not a word. But it carries the punch I wanted to share.

We need plain writing. Writing that does its job without any amplification.

We need fun, quirky, deep, stylistic, and tug-your-heart writing too.

I teach writers how to add psychological power to their writing in hundreds of ways. No hype. No hyperbole. I’m just sharing what I do.

I’m a psychologist-turned-editor. I used my psychological expertise to analyze more passages and chapters than most people read in ten lifetimes. I developed deep editing techniques that help writers add power to each paragraph.

I teach writers how to empower emotions.

How to avoid clichés and clichéd phrasing.

How to write fresh faces and voices and visceral responses.

How to use advanced stimulus-response patterns.

How to use my Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion. How to have the right emotional intensity in the right place.

How to create emotional authenticity on the page. How a character can act in an out-of-character way, and get the reader to buy it.

How to use six rhetorical devices to finesse backstory. Succinct, unskimmable, beautifully cadenced backstory.

How to use my 20 Point Checklist for Openings, my 15 Point Checklist for Endings, my 12 Visceral Rules for Fiction Writers, my 10 Gems for Not Writing Your Mama’s Character Descriptions, and more.

How to deep edit analyze your scenes. I developed The EDITS System so writers can see what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s missing.

I created seven online courses for writers:

  1. Empowering Characters’ Emotions
  2. Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More
  3. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
  4. Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors
  5. A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop
  6. Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts
  7. Fab 30: Advanced Deep Editing, A Master Class

The first four classes each have 250+ pages of lectures. The next three classes have 180 – 230 pages of lectures.

I used to teach college. Graduate level psychology courses. I back up every teaching point with plenty of examples from a variety of genres.

I shared a few of the twenty rhetorical devices I teach fiction writers here. I’ll cover all twenty in about 75 minutes in my full day master class. Some, like polysyndeton (…photographed and bagged and carried away…, The Last Breath, Kimberly Belle) may be new to you, but they’re easy to learn, and use. Handouts help.

I’m looking forward to having fun in my Master Class on March 30. Join me, and you’ll leave with deep editing tips and techniques that will add power to your WIP.

About Margie

Margie Lawson —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 a hundred fifty full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches with taking their writing to publication, awards, and bestseller lists.

Margie developed seven online courses she teaches through Lawson Writer’s Academy on her website. LWA has over 30 instructors and offers five courses most months.

Margie also teaches fifteen 5-day Immersion Master Classes a year. Enrollment is limited to seven. In 2017 she’s teaching Immersions in Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Amarillo, Calgary, Washington D.C., and in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Canberra, and Hobart, Australia.

What’s the Buzz? 

Randy Ingermanson, Ph. D., award-winning author of Writing Fiction for Dummies:

In the twenty years I’ve been writing fiction, two teachers have astounded me with their insights and taught me something radically new: Dwight Swain and Margie Lawson. Margie taught me new ways to empower my writing.

Melanie Milburne, USA Today Bestseller

I had 40 books published before I met Margie Lawson. It wasn’t until I started using her deep editing techniques that I won several writing awards. I have a library of how-to books, but none top Margie’s expertise.

Laura Drake, RITA Winner, The Sweet Spot

When I took my first Margie Lawson class, the paradigm shift I experienced was more like an earthquake — I saw everything differently. I took more of her classes and I got a three book deal with Grand Central. A few months later I got a contract for a fourth book. Several months after that, I got contracted for three more books! I sold seven books in fifteen months—before my first book was released. I have Margie to thank for teaching me how to deep edit to get power on every page.

Allison Brennan, NYT Bestseller:

Margie Lawson, a brilliant psychologist, teaches a class on editing that, ahem, truly tested me. She uses color-coding to dissect writing in order to empower your stories. I learned from Margie how to fix my prose. I think about her editing system and techniques, ways to add power, finding the emotional key of the scene. I use her lessons to add power to my writing.

Romily Bernard, RITA Winner, Find Me

Your classes (both online and at the Georgia writing conference) changed my life!! My YA debut sold in a three-book, pre-empt to Harper Collins. Phoebe was so very complimentary about the way I render emotion and tension on the page and I know I have you to thank!

Alex Ratcliff, Daphne Finalist

Margie’s online courses and Immersion Master Class have strapped me into a skill-building machine for writers. With her help, in one year I moved from a can’t-write-a-fresh-line beginner to a Daphne finalist. Wow!

Karin Tabke, Bestselling author

I had so many epiphany moments Saturday my head was twitching. It’s still twitching! I wish I had attended Margie’s Empowering Characters’ Emotions master class earlier. My writing is stronger, more vivid, more emotional. The effects of the workshop were immediate. I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to take Margie’s workshop in person, do it.

Colleen Coble, CEO of ACFW and Bestselling author

“The workshop I went to last month was the best I’ve ever been to, bar none. And I’ve been to plenty. Margie’s workshop was so awesome, I’m going over my notes from what she taught before I start my next book. She’s a genius, pure and simple.”

Elizabeth Essex, RITA Finalist, The Danger of Desire

I’ve attended one of Margie’s all-day seminars, taken all her online classes; attended her workshops at RWA conferences, flown to Colorado to attend her four-day Immersion class, and hosted an Immersion class in Dallas. Margie taught me to challenge and push myself to make the hard changes from the first page of a manuscript until the very last. Working with Margie, you’ll have the tools to make every single word count.

Comment Contest Details

Post a comment and you have TWO CHANCES to WIN a lecture packet!

You’ll win the lectures (250+ pages) from one of Margie Lawson’s online courses listed here:

  1. Empowering Characters’ Emotions
  1. Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More
  1. Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist

The drawings will be Sunday, Feb. 5th, 8:00 PM Mountain Time.  

Drawing reschedule due to SUPERBOWL! Time extended until Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 at 6 p.m. PST.

The winners names will be posted here.

See you on the blog!

KEEP SCROLLING DOWN UNTIL YOU GET TO THE COMMENTS SECTION ON THIS PAGE (the place to leave your comments for Margie’s  contest).  

All smiles…………….Margie