Recently, I was looking for information on the web related to taking my writing to the next level — the third-and-hopefully-final revision level. I’ve written the first draft. I’m working on the second draft. What I feel I need help with, though, is the third (and beyond) draft. The one that really amps up my writing, makes it un-put-down-able, and a winner (hopefully for not only scoring an agent/contract, but also the coveted “Golden Heart” award for unpublished authors given each year by RWA).
One of the sites I stumbled upon is Margie Lawson’s. She’s a psychologist, teacher, and writer, and she has a very interesting color-coded system for editing your work. Different attributes are given different colors, so you can analyze them and make a more “informed” decision about what you should change.
The six colors she uses are blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, and red. I don’t want to give away too much of her system, which she calls the EDITS system, because it’s copyrighted, but I’ll give you an idea of how it works.
When you finish a scene/chapter, you go through with five highlighters and a red pen and mark things like setting, dialogue, action, internalizations or back story, visceral reactions, etc., each in a different color. You can then scan at a page level or a color level to see what you might need to change. Is there too big a block of dialogue? Maybe break it up with some action/setting (like taking a drink or moving around somehow), or perhaps you make the dialogue more ping-pong and less he-said/she-said. No visceral reaction in the scene? Figure out where you can incorporate it. Too much visceral? Tone it down. Don’t identify setting enough at the beginning of a scene? Give the characters a sense of place. She also has several other techniques she teaches to help improve your writing.
Margie teaches several classes related to EDITS and also does in-person Immersion classes, where she takes 5-6 people (or less) and works with them all for 3-4 days on improving not only using the EDITS system, but analyzing the results and making your writing “fresh.” There are three prerequisite classes to this, which I’m working through now. Unfortunately, she’s booked for Immersion through most of next year!
I’ve recently started working with a new member of my local RWA chapter who has done Margie’s Immersion class. Her writing is very good. VERY good. It’s FRESH. It’s interesting. It’s un-put-down-able…basically all the things I want my writing to be.
My post probably sounds like a plug for Margie Lawson, and perhaps it is, but for someone like me, who feels pretty good about “big picture” things like conflict and GMC, this is the next logical step. I think what I’ve written so far for Three Proposals is good, but I want it to be GREAT. Margie may not be the end-all, be-all, but I think her EDITS system is an excellent start.