Margie Lawson Rocks My World

*Cliche alert* — As I kept hearing all weekend.

I just took a one and half day Empowering Character’s Emotions workshop with Margie Lawson through the MORWA chapter this weekend. This is THE system for amplifying your voice and writing. I wish I had discovered her EDITS system a year ago, or two years ago, or three…basically before anyone had read my writing. I wouldn’t have been so in the dark about what wasn’t working.

One of my very last “steps” I took before the writing started getting noticed by agents was an amplification pass. I went through the manuscript which I believed was “ready” and picked out lazy lines and paragraphs and shined them up a bit, purposefully made them more interesting and sparkly and unique.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it made my writing tortured and purple. But sometimes you just have to try harder. That’s how my Little Sis marks these lazy areas in the manuscript, “try harder”. I mark them as “make unique” or “do better”. Good, solid writing isn’t necessarily distinctive enough. Good writing doesn’t get noticed. Special writing gets noticed.

Margie calls it “fresh writing”, but she goes much deeper, giving you concrete tools to catch and amplify the writing. Much more effective than feeling around in the dark, as I was doing! Her system resonated with me because of several big ideas:

firstpage1. It’s an instructive system. An empowering system. It’s for writers to be able to delve deeper into their own work. The way to get the most out of it is to analyze your own writing. And reflection is never a bad thing.

2. At the heart of it, she pushes writers to stretch their boundaries and take risks. It’s not about “Don’t” rules; what not to do. Margie emphasizes “Do” rules. She gives a toolset of devices to use and concrete techniques that you can apply immediately.

3. Teacher Jeannie appreciates the lesson design. Cognitively, EDITS is a well-structured system. There’s tactile involvement (highlighting), visual cues through the color coding, actively engaging to the learner — lots of hands on exercises. Margie was also a very good teacher. Lots of positive reinforcement, modeling, creating a safe space by lowering the affective filter. I was very impressed just watching the way the workshop was structured.

The ten hours just flew by. 🙂

Oh, I wasn’t going to actually try to explain the system and the ten gobzillion things I learned. Margie does so in lecture packets which span hundreds of pages, so I doubt I can even scratch the surface. If you’re curious, check out her website (– after you appreciate the work of art that is my marked up draft.

I also got a little special star for my effort. The Capote quote definitely embodies my writing process and philosophy.


I’m off now, to make it AWESOME.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Wait, I think I’ve already done a blog post with that title…

I’m finishing up this round of edits on Across the Silk Road and now that I’ve nearly completed three books and a short in this world, I’m getting a bit worried. Little Sis had a couple comments wondering if some elements or scenes in this book were too reminiscent of Butterfly Swords or The Dragon and the Pearl. And then what about vocabulary and echo phrases across the books? I’m worried enough about catching those in one book let alone across several.

Of course there are recurring themes and elements. I love big, sweeping honor plays. Themes of loyalty and redemption and warrior culture are always hanging about. But what about love scenes or milestones that start to have a similar feel? I wonder if this is inevitable.

How do you keep it fresh? Is it really time to write something completely different after these revisions? My paranormal project is also set in a fantasy Tang dynasty. Maybe I need to let that rest and write the contemporary I’ve been ruminating about. I can sneak that in. Really.

It leaves me to also wonder, how much of this is your signature style and voice that readers will embrace and love about your writing? How much of it is you falling into old habits and no longer keeping it fresh? A thin red line indeed.