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.


  1. Kristi
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 05:38:46

    Tell me about it. I’ve noticed with some stuff I write, some parts just seem to work right away and some just don’t. Just don’t. And there are some parts where I feel like I’m really trying and not quite getting there. And now I have a few tools to help figure out why, and how.

    I liked the Edits system (though I couldn’t stand the highlighters…need to do that on the screen to make it easier to un-highlight where the marker went astray!). But I also loved all the discussion of the rhetorical devices and why they worked and the examples of how.

    And now the work begins I guess 🙂

  2. Jeannie Lin
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 09:18:03

    I like the highlighters, but then again, I like interacting with paper. My only complaint is I’m the type to lose a highlighter and then be too flustered to work until I get another one.

  3. Jax Cassidy
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 12:34:48

    I’ve heard awesome things about Margie, yet I haven’thad a chance to participate in any of her workshops yet..but I will do it sometime in the future. Sounds like you made a breakthrough. 🙂

  4. Jeannie Lin
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 12:36:50

    Jax – I highly recommend it. I left the workshop just itching to get my hands on my manuscript.