Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Margie Lawson-Welcome to Seekerville!

First Page Lightning:
Adding Power with Rhetorical Devices
By Margie Lawson

THANK YOU to Camy Tang and Cheryl Wyatt for inviting me to join you today. You all are the best!

First Page Lightning:
Adding Power with Rhetorical Devices
By Margie Lawson

You all know the three-second-rule. Right?

When you meet someone new, that’s how long it takes to form an impression. That all important first impression. That hard to reverse first impression. That colors-your-perception-forever first impression.

Three seconds.

Look. Blink. Smile.

Your three seconds are up.

Writers have a similar challenge to make a positive first impression on agents, editors, and readers. They have a first sentence challenge, a first paragraph challenge, a first page challenge . . .

The first few pages of most novels are the most rewritten. Writers scrutinize those pages. They revise, rethink, rework, rewrite, reject-and-start-over.

Having analyzed the first several chapters (and beyond) of over a thousand novels, I know what components add power to openings. Many writers overlook one of those options--the power of rhetorical devices.

My research reveals that some New York Times bestsellers almost always use the more obscure rhetorical devices in their first few pages. Harlan Coben uses ANAPHORA in the first few pages of most of his books. In some books, he uses anaphora in his opening paragraph and several more times in the first chapter.

Lisa Gardner and Stephen White often use anaphora in their opening chapters too.

In my Deep Editing course, I teach writers how to use THIRTY rhetorical devices. I’ll introduce three of these lesser known devices in this blog.

We’ll dive into ANAPHORA first.

ANAPHORA – Using the same word or phrase to START three (or more) consecutive phrases or sentences.

From Harlan Coben’s NO SECOND CHANCE, opening paragraph:

I know that I lost a lot of blood.
I know that a second bullet skimmed the top of my head . . .
I know that my heart stopped.

Two more examples from the first chapter of NO SECOND CHANCE:

I remembered waking up that morning . . .
I remembered looking in on Tara.
I remembered turning the knob . . .

I longed for the numb.
I longed for the comatose state of the hospital.
I longed for that IV bag . . .

Here’s an example of using anaphora to start phrases. It’s from Harlen Coben’s THE WOODS, Chapter 1:

I have never seen my father cry before—not when his own father died, not when my mother ran off and left us, not even when he first heard about my sister, Camille.

Look what Harlan Coben accomplished in that line. He slipped in backstory. But with anaphora, it’s fast and smooth and intriguing.

Here are two examples of ANAPHORA, from Allison Brennan, FEAR NO EVIL,
Chapter 1. It’s two paragraphs.

Fourteen years ago she wanted the exact same thing as Lucy--to get out from under her parents thumb. But that was before she'd decided to become a cop. Before she realized how truly dangerous the city could be. Before she realized that justice wasn't always swift, that the system didn't always work.

That some murders would never be solved.

Stephen White used anaphora eight times in BLINDED. The example below is from Page 1:

It may sound goofy, but I also believed that on good days I could smell the spark before I smelled the fire and I could taste the poison before it reached my lips. On good days I could stand firm between tenderness and evil. On good days I could make a difference.

What makes ANAPHORA powerful?

The rhythm . . .
The auditory echo . . .
The repetition of the message . . .

Anaphora speaks to the reader’s subconscious.

Using anaphora makes the read imperative.

Let’s look at another rhetorical device. EPISTROPHE. This one is even more obscure than anaphora. I’ve found 20 times more examples of anaphora, than epistrophe. Yet, it’s equally powerful.

And it’s as fun to write as anaphora. I used epistrophe to draw you into this blog. It’s in my second paragraph, and in my sixth paragraph.

EPISTROPHE – is the opposite of anaphora. Using the same word or phrase to END three (or more) consecutive phrases or sentences.

Here are my examples of epistrophe in this blog:

When you meet someone new, that’s how long it takes to form an impression. That all important first impression. That hard to reverse first impression. That colors-your-perception-forever first impression.

They have a first sentence challenge, a first paragraph challenge, a first page challenge . . .

Did those examples work for you? Were they smooth? Did they carry power?

Here are more examples of EPISTROPHE from bestselling authors:
From Michael Connelly, the opening lines from THE BRASS VERDICT:

Everybody lies.

Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie.

A trial is a contest of lies. And everybody in the courtroom knows this. The judge knows this. Even the jury knows this. They come into the building knowing they will be lied to. They take their seats in the box and agree to be lied to.

The trick if you are sitting at the defense table is to be patient. To wait. Not just for any lie. But for the one you can grab on to and forge like hot iron into a sharpened blade. You then use that blade to rip the case open and spill its guts on the floor.

That’s my job, to forge the blade. To sharpen it. To use it without mercy or conscience. To be the truth in a place where everybody lies.

Here are the first four paragraphs of HIDE by Lisa Gardner.

My father explained it to me the first time when I was seven years old. The world is a system. School is a system. Neighborhoods are a system. Towns, governments, any large group of people. For that matter, the human body is a system, enabled by smaller, biological subsystems.

Criminal justice, definitely a system. The Catholic Church—don’t get him started. Then there’s organized sports, the United Nations, and of course, the Miss America Pageant.

“You don’t have to like the system,” he lectured me. “You don’t have to believe in it or agree with it. But you must understand it. If you can understand the system, you will survive.”

The family is a system.

LISA GARDNER used the word system eight times. Plus—one use of subsystem.

She nails the reader again and again and again with that regimented word, system. And she brings it home with her last sentence: a spotlighted, stand alone sentence.

The family is a system.

There’s a page break after that line—then the story kicks in with a vengeance. ;-))

I’ll share one more rhetorical device – SYMPLOCE.

SYMPLOCE uses a combination of anaphora and epistrophe – in the same sentences.

The SYMPLOCE example below is from ACFW member Christa Allan. This is the prologue from her first book, WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS.


If I had known children break on the inside and the cracks don’t surface until years later, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known some parents don’t live to watch grandchildren grow, I would have taken more pictures and been more careful with my words.

If I had known couples can be fragile and want what they are unprepared to give or unwilling to take, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known teaching lasts a lifetime, and students don’t speak of their tragic lives, I would have been more careful with my words.

If I had known my muscles and organs and bones and skin are not lifetime guarantees that when broken, snagged, unstitched or unseemly, can not be returned for replacement, I would have been kinder to the shell that prevents my soul from leaking out.

If I had known I would live over half my life and have to look at photographs to remember my mother adjusting my birthday party hat so that my father could take the picture that sliced the moment out of time- if I had known, if I had known- I would have been more careful with my life.


That’s powerful writing. It gets me every time.

Kudos to Christa Allan!

I’m looking forward to reading WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS. It will be released in the spring of 2010.

With anaphora, epistrophe, and symploce—once you’ve established the repetition three consecutive times, you can play with it. You don’t have to stop at three. You can have a sentence or two following the last repetition that don’t carry the repetition. The last sentence could pick up the repetition and end with a rhetorical punch.

This blog focused on using rhetorical devices to add power to first pages. They can be used to add power at the opening of any scene, at turning points, before a page break, at the end of a chapter.

Consider adding a cadence-driven rhetorical device to the opening of your novel. Your reader’s first impression will draw them deep into the read lightning fast.


Share your reaction to the rhetorical devices.

If you have an example of a rhetorical device in your work, please post it.

If you’d like to write an example using one of the rhetorical devices in the blog, please post it.


For every 25 people who post today, I will draw a name for a Lecture Packet, a $22 value. 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 forty-nine 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 the four sessions of 3-day Immersion Master Classes for 2010, visit: www.MargieLawson.com.

The WINNERS will be drawn at 9PM Mountain Time tonight. I’ll post the winners on the blog.

Thank you for joining us today!

All smiles…………Margie


  1. ANAPHORA…are you Greek, are you old, are you more form than substance -- if truth be told.

    ANAPHORA…what will they think, a hat trick maybe, your sound endures, your meaning maybe.

    ANAPHORA…you have a name, a pedigree, it draws attention -- to you, not me.

    It’s too late to write such things.
    It’s too late for meanings that words have yet to obtain.
    It’s too late to stop the clock and yet too early to start again.

    When the Seeker is ready, the coffee will appear.


  2. Margie,

    Thanks so much for sharing these techniques. I'm always trying so hard not to use the same words too much and now I see it can be effective in some situations.

    I'm not sure if I know how to spot it. Here's a possibility from "Seaside Letters" by Denise Hunter:

    He would be seated against the beadboard wall, facing the kitchen, unfortunately. He would be wearing a blue "Cap'n Tucker's Water Taxi" cap, a light colored T-shirt, and a crooked grin. She would offer him coffee, he would accept, then he would spread open "The Inquirer and Mirror" and take thirty minutes on all twelve articles while she waited on other customers, her bony knees knocking together like bamboo wind chimes.

    This is on the first page and I hadn't noticed it until you defined what ANAPHORA is. Is this a good example?

    I'm having scrambled eggs for breakfast. Anyone care to join me for breakfast? Do you like catsup on your eggs at breakfast? For my new exercise program, I'm starting a habit of having protein for breakfast.

    Did you catch my use of the second technique Margie described? Is it effective?


  3. Whoa, vince, I've got the coffee pot on. Regular or decaf?

    Those were interesting, Margie.

    My CP has suggested that I read my work aloud. I wonder if some of our writing has drifted away from that idea. But those techniques emphasize the sound of the writing. Coolness.

    Cathy, I like hot sauce on my eggs. Tobasco, bacon and cheddar cheese. Looks like a train wreck but tastes so good :-)

  4. Like Cathy said, I tend to focus on the opposite of these devices...avoiding repetition. But I love seeing these examples that point to how effective repetition can be.

    My brain is too mushy to try to top Vince's anaphoras, so I think I'll take some of that coffee now. :-)

  5. Hi Margie! as a former student, I offer one of my short Margie-isms:

    Ducane’s demeanor gave nothing to contradict his encouragement, yet Ewan bristled at the words. Could the man see through him, through the wall, through to the doubts he thought he hid?

    I think I need one more word in there for rhythm but I gotta get to work. These rhetoricals are fascinating things to study.

    Vince, you're killing me. Tomorrow you'll be commenting in Yoda fashion I suppose.

    BTW, My word verifcation is fachenno. Is that Italian for something?

  6. Welcome to Seekerville, Margie! Your classes have taught me the importance of using rhetorical devices, though I'll admit I rarely remember their names.

    A couple examples of anaphora from The Substitute Bride, releasing in February:

    One month until the bank tossed them out on the street. One month to forge a new life. One month to save her family.

    Every day he got further behind with the work. Every day his children got less of his attention. Every day he tried to do it all and failed.

    Thanks for a wonderful post! And for all you've taught me in your classes.

    The scrambled eggs are delicious as is, Cathy. No catsup for me.


  7. Margie!!! EVERYBODY I've talked to who has taken your courses tell me I am missing out majorly, and now I see why! Holy cow, you think of things I never even thought about, but need to!

    I am a HUGE rhythm writer. Meaning I will cut or add words based on rhythm alone. If the cadence is off when I read out loud, I work it and rework it until it's like music to my ears ... or poetry. I suspect it comes from writing poetry as a kid, and I'm not talking the rhyming kind, but the kind with rhythm and flow.

    I love the techniques you shared and I know I have done both (anaphora and epistrophe), but I sure in the heck didn't know WHAT I was doing when I was doing it!! Which tells me loud and clear I need to sign up for a Margie Lawson class next year at ACFW. I hope you will be there???

    I couldn't remember exactly where I used anaphora and epistrophe in my books, which pretty much says the examples in which I did couldn't have been too memorable ... :) But, I did find one in my most recent WIP, but it's certainly not as dramatic as the excellent examples you've given. Here's an anaphora (I think!) from Katie's story, A Hope Undaunted.

    The air thinned in her throat as the awful truth struck. She put a hand to her head, dizzy with the realization that it was Luke she relied on, not Jack. Luke who quickened her spirit with prayer, and Luke who stirred her pulse with the lift of his smile …
    And the heat of his kiss?

    Excellent post, Margie -- thank you SO much for coming to Seekerville, and I promise you will see me in a class of yours in the future.


  8. Hi Margie,
    I love your examples as your classes - I always learn! I find your analysis of strong writing succinct and the prescription for dynamic prose!

    Diana Cosby
    Romance Edged With Danger

  9. Hi Margie,
    Wow, there's a lot packed into that post. Thanks.
    Your website is amazing and helpful.

    I just downloaded "Writing Body Language" lecture packet for two reasons.
    1. For my own writing
    2. Because it will help me teach 'reading' body language with my kids on the Autism Spectrum, esp Asperger Syndrome.

    There's some detailed info in there and I can already see how it will be helpful. I can't wait to sign up for an online course. If it's anything like your posts, it's going to be one intense series.



  10. Hi Margie:

    I really enjoyed your post. I’d love to take your classes.

    I must explain that my comment was written after 12 hours of writing romantic comedy. My brain was begging me to write something serious before I went to sleep. Ruth will probably tell me if I succeeded.

    I lived in Italy three years and if “fachenno” is an Italian word, it’s probably a no-no. It sounds like ‘facendo’ which means ‘doing’. BTW, I though I always sounded like Yoda. :)

    Ann: decaf, please. My body makes caffeine.


  11. Thank you for this, Margie. I use all three of those in my writing and had no idea they had an actual name! And I always ALWAYS have a proofreader try and delete one or more of my same word beginnings and(endings). It's comforting to know I was doing something right all along :)


  12. Everything was a struggle. The water faucets. The elevator doors. Finding a parking place. Fighting her ex. Fighting her ex. Especially fighting her ex.

    The above is from my own wip, that is presently in the 'edit' mode. Major thanks to Margie, who has made me aware of the rhetorical devices, and how to edit a book.

    Her classes are priceless. I've learned so much that it caused my brain go into overload. If you haven't taken one, DO! You'll not regret it.

  13. Interesting!!

    Rhetorical devices. I use them. Love them. Funny thing is I've been lamblasted for it in several critiques because I'm using the same words over again.

    I've told some I'm trying to paint a picture, and draw the reader deeper into the brushstrokes of the character's life or story's meaning.

    They make the reader stop and rest awhile during a specific point of the story, a point you want the reader to ingest.

  14. Thank you for this very useful post (I'd only ever known about the first, "anaphora."). The examples are very well-chosen.

  15. Oh boy, oh boy! Now I feel smart. I use this device quite often and now it has a name! Thanks for a super interesting post! Really, really well written. And if I wasn't so tired I would have written this comment as an anaphora!

  16. Wow. This was a great post. Nice examples. There was a lot packed into this post. Thanks for taking the time. Have a great day.

  17. I pick up something new every time I read these lessons for Margie. I guess it's like that .. you hear it seven times before you remember it thing ... or maybe I'm just getting old hahah.

    Thanks Margie and seekerville for the lesson.

  18. Morning Margie, Thanks for the great info. I love those techniques and like others am amazed they have such fancy names. I will definitely try using them, but I know I have before. Just didn't know what it was called.

    Vince you are too funny. The way you play around with words reminds me of a kid on the porch with his legos.

    Cathy I didn't know anyone else ate eggs with catsup. How yummy. I always get teased but that is the only way to eat eggs unless you add eggs with veggies. Add eggs with sausage and bacon. Add eggs with salsa. (hmm does that count as an epistrophe?)

  19. Wow, great post. Thanks! I know I've used those techniques before (though I didn't know they had actual names), but usually I'll feel like they're too redundant and end up deleting them. Now I see they can add a beautiful poetic touch to your words, if you use it correctly. I'm definitely going to try and add at least a few of them to my story ! :)


  20. My sample of Rhetoricals from the story When Shadows Fall.

    Life is a mixture of joy and sorrows.
    Darkness and light coming together to cast shadows upon your soul
    These shadows, often fleeting, touch us far deeper than their hazy essence ever deemed possible.

    Some are a source of happiness, others, a distinct source of pain.
    Happiness that envelopes one in peace like the calm after a storm.
    Pain that envelopes the spirit in a disturbing fog, holding you tightly as it drags you on a seemingly endless downward spiral of hopelessness and despair. Despair wrought and nourished oftentimes in your own mind.

    There’s the shadow of a smile, the cooling shadow of clouds on the hottest of summer days,
    the shadowy hands of trees dancing on the wind across walls in the moonlight. The long shadow of a man cast across a barren land, on the wings of a prayer; like a dream he means to possess.

    There’s the shadow of memories, some dear, some not soon enough forgotten.
    The shadow of sorrow and the shadow of death, boring your heart and mind, lingering long after the soul has been seared.

    There’s the shadow of a kiss, and the shadow of a hand across a weary brow.
    Whatever they are, in whatever form, know that shadows will come, and fall where they may.
    However, they touch you. It is my prayer that you will have a hand to hold, and a hand to guide, When the Shadows Fall.

  21. In my head, I think of these as using the power of three. I have a tendency to get caught up in names and confusing myself--a very easy task:)

    There's a thin line between making a powerful phrase and/or paragraph and making one that is annoying and/or repetitious.

    Thanks for the helpful hints.

  22. I absolutely love this, Margie.

    I use the three beats all the time and that includes the beginning and ending words. What's funny to me is that we are all drilled to NOT repeat words but we all (I suspect all) know that used CORRECTLE, repeating words has a lot of style and power.

  23. I love rhythm of words. Now I see why your classes come so highly recommended. WOW!

  24. Margie-
    Thanks for all the great info. I missed your class at RWA this summer, but heard it was great.--Beckie

  25. First of all.... I didn't realize Christa had sold (or I forgot...) Either way, congrats to her!!!

    Great post Margie!

    I personally like anaphora and used it before I knew what it was. I don't know if I used it well, but I sure like it. LOL Thanks for sharing all of this. Very helpful info.

  26. Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. (No anaphora intended.) Once I get my laundry going, I'm going to have to come back and read Margie's post again.


    I've noticed anaphoras and her fancy-named cousins in books, but I never knew there were actual names for the techniques.

  27. Hi, Margie, I've used many of your writing techniques, though I can never think of their names! I have also become fans of several authors you've used for examples in your classes, Harlan Coben for one.
    This is an experpt from a wip I started after a long stint in the hospital ICU, I titled Lullaby:

    There was no more conversation beyond a murmured phone call or two and I succumbed to my morphine muse. Another endless night broken by the dreary, gray dawn that slipped through the now opened blinds. They shouldn’t have bothered opening these blinds, it only served to remind me of what I’d lost.
    We’d lost.
    We’d lost our son, our much wished for, anticipated baby boy, who would never take a breath, never smile, never grow up to laugh and play.
    Our son will be placed in a tiny grave today. I was denied even this last ritual in the pretext of sparing me more pain. But I knew, I knew, I knew why they didn’t want me there.
    I had killed my baby.

  28. Hello Vince --

    Kudos to you! Love how you use words to entice, entertain, entrance.

    Thanks for engaging me in your empowering word play. ;-)

  29. Vince, LOL about the coffee.

    Margie, thank you for visiting us here in Seekerville!



  30. Cathy --

    Thanks for sharing the example from "Seaside Letters" by Denise Hunter.
    Her repetition of the word 'would' It is a loose example of anaphora. It doesn't carry as much impact from the cadence or power due to sentence structure and word choice.

    You had fun with epistrophe, ending four sentences with 'breakfast.' For me, it doesn't carry power, because there's no message, no subtext, no emotional investment.

    Here's an example from DEAD TIME, by Stephen White

    “Because you’ll see something I won’t see. You’ll see something her sister won’t see. You may well see something the cop won’t see.”

    In context, it carried power.

    With epistrophe, it was more interesting than if Stephen White had written:

    You could see something we miss or the cop misses.

    Stephen White spotlighted the importance of not missing any clue.

    Thank you for posting!

  31. Hi Mar-G,

    Great reminders of some of the wonderful techniques I've learned from you.

    Hear ye, hear ye. If you have not given yourself the gift of taking a workshop from Margie, or at least learning from her lecture packets, DO IT! It will change your writing life!

    Check out her Immersion Master Classes in beautiful Colorado. I enjoyed attending the very first one and can't wait to go back sometime!

    Tracy Mastaler :)

  32. Ann --

    Reading your work out loud is smart and humbling. The best plan is to record it. The tough part is listening.

    I recommend listening and following along on a hard copy with a red pen in hand. You'll catch some flaws you never noticed before.

    Some rhetorical devices are cadence-driven. They speak to the reader's subconscious. :-)

    Thank you for dropping by!

  33. Hello Sarah --

    Good for you! Sounds like you avoid echo words. Smart!

    You are so right. It is effective to use the impact of repetition to empower the read.

    Thanks for chiming in. :-)

  34. Hello Debra --

    Great to see you here!

    Ah -- I like your anaphora:

    Could the man see through him, through the wall, through to the doubts he thought he hid?

    You asked about needing another beat. I could imagine another beat too. I don't have the word (or words), but I know where I'd want to put them. And I'd nix 'the' and add 'his.'

    Could the man see through him, through HIS ________ wall, through to the doubts he thought he hid?


    Could the man see through him? Through his ________ wall? Through to the doubts he thought he hid?

    You could use something like FORTIFIED. Or - you can nix the extra beat. ;-)

    KUDOS TO DEBRA! Strong anaphora -- and she backloaded it with a power word -- HID. :-)

    Thank you for sharing your talent!

  35. Hello Janet --

    Lovey hugs to you!

    You know I love your writing. Great examples!

    Oh -- and I want to play with your second example.

    Every day he got further behind with the work. Every day his children got less of his attention. Every day he tried to do it all and failed.


    Every day he got further behind with the work. Every day his children got less of his attention. Every day he tried to do it all.

    Every day, he failed.



    1. I put failed in a separate sentence.

    2. I moved the last sentence to a stand alone paragraph.

    3. I added a comma, which added a beat for impact.

    4. I changed the structure and cadence by creating three lines, followed by a beat line, followed by the failed line. BOOM!



  36. Hi Margie,
    I am so glad to see you here and enjoy your Lecture Packets.

    Here is an example of an anaphora from my work in progress regarding a kidnapping.

    This is the opening:

    The woman’s shrill voice mixed with those of her husband. Unanswered, their cries bounced off the walls of their Tiger Springs home.
    They searched the bedrooms, the bathroom, the office, and under the stairs. They seached the garage then circled back on the upstairs landing, looked under the beds, pulled things out of the closets, checked behind the shower curtain. They searched places no parent should have to look for a child.
    A stark realization hit Bunny. Emma would never leave the house without asking. Her body shook

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Janet Kerr

  37. All of these really worked for me. I've realized that I sometimes use an echo in my sentences, but not to this extent. I'm definitely going to try to experiment more and incorporate some of these devices because the examples you have posted are excellent. Actually, they were riveting and really made me want to know what comes next!

  38. Hi Margie, thanks for the lovely compliment and playing with my words. I can't play. They're already set in the book releasing in February. That's what I get for my shameless plug. :-)

    Hugs, Janet

  39. Hello Julie --

    Yay! You pay attention to the flow and rhythm and keep working with it until you know it sounds right. Me too. ;-)

    Since you haven't taken my courses or seen the Lecture Packets -- you have no way of knowing how much material I pack in each course and Lecture Packet.

    I'll tell you.

    Most of my courses have over 300 pages of lectures.

    Yep. Over 300 pages.

    My courses are loaded with tips and techniques and systems and examples. Since it is material I developed, it isn't available elsewhere.

    When presenting a one or two hour workshop, I only have time to share a small slice of that topic.

    When presenting a full day Master Class -- I can cover about one-fifth to one-fourth of the topic.

    It was so cool to get to present the Early Bird Workshop for two years in a row. Now I've covered about half of my Deep Editing Power topic.

    I had such fun teaching two workshops for ACFW this year -- Writing Body Language - and Writing Dialogue Cues. I covered about one-tenth of each topic, and writers got a taste of each.

    JULIE --

    YIKES! I'm yammering. Sorry that I took off, and kept going.

    I just wanted you all to know, if you take a one or two-hour workshop from me, you may learn two letters of the Margie-alphabet. Take a full day, and you'll learn six or seven letters of the Margie-alphabet.

    Take an on-line course or order the Lecture Packet, and you'll learn the full Margie-alphabet for that topic.


    TO MAKE AMMENDS . . . I am sending you the EMPOWERING CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS Lecture Packet.

    Yay! I feel better.

    I hope you're smiling. :-)



    Time for me to get back to work. You'll see me on-line again this evening.

    Thanks for dropping by!

    All smiles...........Margie

  41. Hi Margie

    Thank you for this enlightening blog! I've often read and enjoyed books in which rhetorical devices are used, but didn't know them as such.

    The Bible abounds in rhetorical devices- take for example The Beatitudes- "Blessed are . . ." Matthew 5:3-11

    Or Psalm 96: 1-3 (NIV)
    "Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
    Sing to the Lord, praise His name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day."

    Best wishes

    Ruth Ann

  42. Hi Margie,

    I've read many books with these typs of techniques in them but never knew the official names. I'm enlightened and have learned something today.

    I'm definately printing this blog and going to try the rhetorical devices in my WIP.

    Thanks for sharing the info.


  43. Ah, Sherry, beautifully done. My heart weeps...


    THAT was serious? Are ya' kiddin' me? The funny part was, I was supposed to know it was serious.

    Does using 'was' in a paragraph four times get me something? Anything? A nap would be nice. YAWN...

    Now THAT's downright humorous, my friend!!! Vince, we love you in Seekerville and we bless your visits! Thank you.

    Oh, so many people, so little beer.

    Oops, wrong blog.


    Okay, Margie... Margie came to 'see' the Plan B group of Seekers nearly two years back, right about the time Tina dared me to write a five-page opening tgood enough to final in Romancing the Tome.

    Never one to resist a dare, I did and it did... Hence Detecting Delia. (

    But we garnered a good measure of that strength from great idea shares like Margie.

    Margie, I loved this. Oh, man, what a keeper!!!! Thank you again, sweet cheeks. You were worth every penny we paid to get you here.

    What??? You were free???

    Well, hushpuppies, we'll pay you double!!!!! :)


  44. Wow, what a generously helpful post. Thank you!!

  45. Hi, Margie!
    I confess my ignorance about the rhetorical devices. I had seen them and read them, even been wowed by them, but never had put a name to them.
    As always, your posts are enlightening and more than helpful. Please keep it up!

  46. I have been waiting all day to post on this, but have been swamped at work.

    Margie, I took your ECE course last year. I got what I could but there was a lot to learn.

    I pulled the example below from my WIP. Could I call this an anaphora? The reason I ask is that the repetative words start in the middle of the first sentence and then begin the second and third sentences. It's from the heroine's POV and describes the heroine's first meeting with the hero.

    Then the one called Toshihiro turned and indicated the man she’d tripped over. The man whose strong arms had caught her. The man who’d kept her from hurting herself.



  47. It wasn't until I bought your lecture packet (ECE or Deep Editing, I don't remember which) that I had a name for something I did intuitively. Now I use it more often on purpose and with confidence. (So much so, I didn't even blink when the one judge dinged me for repeating words in a contest I entered. I knew, from my own perception and from the other judges' comments, that it was anaphora and it worked.) Great blog post, Margie. Thanks!

  48. Margie,
    I hope I'm not too late to give anaphoras a try.
    Here goes a little excerpt from my wip (romantic comedy):

    "Maybe it was just her imagination, but Eisley felt memories crowd upon her with each step down the darkened stairway.

    Memories that weren’t hers.

    Memories of a young girl rushing through the tunnel, candle in hand, as angry voices pursued her through the shadows - of her dropping to her knees at the base of these uneven stairs, her breath puffing against the candle’s flame while she frantically searched for a letter


    just maybe…

    All these false memories were due to the side effects of post romantic kiss disorder."

  49. A very long blog this time. Too deep for me to understand some of it, I would love to read one of your books, if you are having a contest please enter me


  50. this was a great post. i, like many of the others here, didn't realize the name of some of the literary devices. thanks so much!

    The Character Therapist

  51. I apologize if this comes through twice. My computer blinked and my post disappeared.

    I love your post, Margie. What powerful techniques. I most definitely need your classes and packets.

    Here's an example of anaphora from my recent release:

    Alexandra caught her breath. She had heard him approach the cabin and, unwilling to renew the occurrence of a few hours past, had squeezed her eyes closed.

    Until he entered the cabin.

    Until she heard him undress.

    Until he slid beneath the covers and rolled toward her.

    Until he touched her.

  52. Thanks for the kind words, Ruth. I used my memories of being on morphine to help me get back into writing after a prolonged hospitalization and recovery, (no baby involved). Boy, I sure don't understand druggies, I really hated being on drugs! I'd much rather be in my own mind, such as it is :-)
    I'd love to comment on each post, but that would make this too long. Many talented writers here!

    And Pepper!! I absolutely love your last line:

    just maybe…

    All these false memories were due to the side effects of post romantic kiss disorder."

    This is priceless!!!


  53. Thanks, Sherry.

    I love Donald O'Connor's song in "Singin' In the Rain"

    -Make 'em Laugh ;-)

  54. Wow! This post was incredible! I want to think about the three ways you showed to give rhetorical impact to the opening of a story, then begin applying it to my work.

    The power these techniques give to writing is amazing. I can hardly wait to add that emotional impact to my own stuff by using them.

    Thank you for sharing them on this blog.

  55. I had no idea someone had come up with a name for repeating words at the end, words at the beginning, maybe words in the middle! LOL! I guess it's easier to say "anaphora" than "that thing where you repeat words in a cool-sounding way."

    And I'm thrilled to find it's a real writing device that I use, and not some not-fully-thought-out idea that springs from my subconscious. THIS is why writers READ! For learning even when you don't realize it!

    Love this blog post Margie! (And this blog, Camy and friends! {waving} ) Can't wait for you to join us at Routines for Writers in January! And I live in Sydney now in case you want to come visit?! Soon to be a Romance Writers of Australia member. How cool would it be to have you come out here!

    Okay, my writer brain wants to get back to the book now that it's got these neat little ideas to play with! Have a great day everyone!

  56. Hi Margie!
    No, I'm not a writer...I'm merely a high school senior who writes(mainly) essays for AP English : ) however, flow and rhythym are two things I feel I should work on. This was a great post...very interesting!
    Thanks and welcome by the way : )

    By the way, my sister and I were both diagnosed with Croup today, at least that's what they think it is. : / So, no school tomorrow. It's homecoming weekend, so no bonfire tomorrow night(I was really looking forward to it too because seniors light it! It's our year : ( ). No musical rehearsal. Ah well, we'll see what happens...

  57. Margie ... SAY WHAT??? You're sending me a EMPOWERING CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS Lecture Packet??? And all because you felt like you were "yammering"??

    HOLY COW ... yammer away, my friend! Why are you doing this? Slip of the tongue and you're just too nice to retract it? Because I'll let you off the hook, I promise, and take your Early Bird class next year. Really!!

    You are really something else, you know that? But than I'd heart that ... :)


  58. I've seen these devices in books, but never knew what they were called. I'd love to win one of Margie's packets.

    Susan :)

    susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com

  59. I've ben looking a long time for this. It remains one of my favorite openings of all time. and it's totally epistrophe. From Linda Howard's MacKenzie's Pleasure.

    Zane Mackenzie wasn't happy.
    No one aboard the aircraft carrier USS Montgomery was happy; well, maybe the cooks were, but even that was iffy, because the men they were serving were sullen and defensive. The seamen weren't happy, the radar men weren't happy, the gunners weren't happy, the Marines weren't happy, the wing commander wasn't happy, the pilots weren't appy, the air boss wasn't happy, the excutive officer wasn't happy, and Captain Udaka sure as @#$% wasn't happy.

    The combined unhappiness of the five thousand sailors on board the carrier didn't begin to approach Lieutenant-Commander Mackenzie's level of unhappiness.

    I just love that. :) It makes me very happy.

  60. Diana C --

    Thank you! Woohoo! I like being a prescription for dynamic prose. ;-)

    Great to have you in my 'Digging Deep Into the EDITS System' class this month.

    Have fun working with your Editing Partner.

  61. Hello Pepper!

    You already dropped by my web site and bought my Lecture Packet for--Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist?

    You are fast!

    I hope you slowed down enough to notice that I donate $5 from that $22 to support my cousin and Lou Gehrig's disease. THANK YOU!

    I taught graduate level psychology courses for six years. If my courses seem like they could be graduate level -- they are.

    Too bad I can't give you all college credit.

    I look forward to seeing you on-line again. ;-)

    All smiles.........Margie

  62. VINCE --

    Twelve hours of writing romantic comedy?

    You are a master of self-discipline.

    And - I bet you love, love, love to write. :-)

    I teach 6 on-line classes each year. My Lecture Packets (all the lectures for that course) are $22 each -- cheaper than the on-line courses.

    You can read course descriptions on my web site by clicking on Lecture Packets.

    I look forward to seeing you on-line again sometime!

  63. Hello Jen --

    Now you know THREE of the THIRTY rhetorical devices I teach in my DEEP EDITING course.

    The full title of that course is:

    DEEP EDITING: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More.

    I bet you get the cadence and structure right when you write some of these rhetorical devices. Sometimes proof readers are not tuning in to the full impact on the page.

    Thanks for posting! I hope to see you on-line again--and in person. ;-)

    Thank you for this, Margie. I use all three of those in my writing and had no idea they had an actual name! And I always ALWAYS have a proofreader try and delete one or more of my same word beginnings and(endings). It's comforting to know I was doing something right all along :)

  64. HELLO DONNA C --

    I love the paragraph from your WIP! Fabulous cadence. Dynamite SYMPLOCE!


    Everything was a struggle. The water faucets. The elevator doors. Finding a parking place. Fighting her ex. Fighting her ex. Especially fighting her ex.


    I hope you finish your deep edit soon - and get your ms. out the door to an agent.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you -- for your kudos about my courses. I'm smiling!

  65. Tina --

    Thanks for dropping by - and sharing how you've educated critique partners about rhetorical devices.

    They will probably be using them next!

  66. Jude --

    Thanks! Glad you liked the examples. They all carry power, especially Christa Allan's. ;-)

  67. Hello Jenny --


    I bet you would love, love, love the 27 other rhetorical devices I teach in DEEP EDITING.

    Learn them -- and you'd add 27 more cool tools to your writing toolbox. ;-)

  68. Hello Lynn --


    I DID HAVE A GREAT DAY . . . and it's still going, going, going. ;-)

    Thanks for dropping by!


    So fun to see you here. You visit the coolest blogs!

    Can't wait until May -- when you are here for my Immersion Master Class. Brain-stretching fun!

  70. Sandra --

    Glad you're a word maven too. :-)

    If you liked the examples using those three rhetorical devices -- imagine how thrilled you could be learning thirty rhetorical devices!

    I teach all thirty -- in DEEP EDITING. Too fun!

    Thanks for posting today. ;-)

    Morning Margie, Thanks for the great info. I love those techniques and like others am amazed they have such fancy names. I will definitely try using them, but I know I have before. Just didn't know what it was called.

  71. Marge Lawson,

    Just wow!
    And one more wow!

    Words don't usually fail me, but in this case I'm too impressed to speak. Wonderful, eye opening post.

    Thank you
    Pat Davids

  72. Hello Arianna --


    You mentioned a CRITICAL POINT.


    Now I see they can add a beautiful poetic touch to your words, if you use it correctly.


    The cadence and structure has to work, or it fizzles. No power.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  73. Tina --

    Thank you for sharing your excerpt from When Shadows Fall.



    Thanks again for posting your work.

  74. Hi Margie,
    I could hear your voice as I read you blog this evening. Thanks for teaching me so much -- you're the greatest and your workshops are fantastic!

  75. Hello Jan S --

    Anaphora and epistrophe are often presented in threes. A handy way to label them. The names are not so handy.

    I agree. If not used correctly -- if they don't tap psychological power -- they would be uber- annoying.

    Lots more learning opportunities packed in the 300+ pages of lectures in most of my Lecture Packets. :-)

    Thanks for dropping by!

  76. Wow, I love those devices! I love the way they sound. I love the way they ricochet around in my brain. I love how they pull me along to read more.



  77. Arriving late to the party, but thank you Margie for posting my prologue and for another awesome teaching. And to the Seekerville gang. . .great guest!

  78. Hello Mary C --

    Glad you use the power of these rhetorical devices. Thanks for pointing out the importance of using them correctly!

    I hope to see you on-line again sometime. :-)

  79. Hello Patricia --

    Thank you!

    Maybe I'll see you in a class in 2010. ;-)

  80. Beckie --

    Thanks for chiming in.

    Too bad we didn't get to meet at RWA National. Maybe we'll connect in Nashville. ;-)

  81. Jessica - -

    I'm so excited for Christa Allan - and I love her writing too. ;-)

    Thanks for chiming in!

  82. HELLO GINA --

    Love your enthusiasm too!

    You know - my blog only covers three of the thirty rhetorical devices I teach in my DEEP EDITING course and Lecture Packet.

    Thanks for keeping the energy going strong on this blog. :-)

  83. Hi Margie!
    I was unable to come and play with the crew today, but wanted to tell you I thought your post amazing!

    Have to get over to your website and sightsee through all the opportunities you offer to fine tune writing.

    Thanks so much for stopping by Seekerville!

  84. Hello Sherry --

    Your passage carried power. I liked your double and your anaphora and the cadence of the full piece.

    Thanks for posting your work.

    I look forward to seeing you in another on-line class sometime. ;-)

  85. Tracy --

    You are soooo fun!

    Thanks for mentioning my IMMERSION MASTER CLASSES. I'll share more.

    I'm offering four Immersion Class sessions in 2010 -- April, May, September, and October.

    Enrollment is limited to seven. The session I'm offering in May is almost full.

    Drop by my web site to read more about these three-day intensive Immersion Master Classes offered in my log home at the top of a Colorado mountain.


    Tracy -- Hope you return in May!


    WISH I HAD MORE TIME TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE'S COMMENTS. But - I'm out of time. I catch a flight to Orlando early in the morning -- and must teach on-line and pack.

    I'm presenting a full day Master Class for Florida Writers Association on Thursday, and present at their 3-day conference held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


    KITTY -- Romance Writers of Australia brought me in to present a full day Master Class at their conference in 2008. I also presented their Plenary speech. What a fabulous group! I'd love to work with them again.


    HANNAH -- I'M BETTING YOU ARE THE YOUNGEST TO POST ON THE BLOG TODAY. I just decided to add another winner! YOU WIN MY EMPOWERING CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS LECTURE PACKET. Please e-mail me (margie@margielawson.com). Thanks!


    WALT -- Great to see you again. YES -- It's anaphora - and it works well. Strong writing!


    PLEASE DROP BY MY BLOG NEXT WEDNESDAY at www.MargieLawson.com --

    for my HOW-TO AUTHOR SERIES --




    I changed my mind.

    You all were so fun and enthusiastic today -- I decide to draw three names!






    Please e-mail me and let me know which of my six Lecture Packets you would like.




  88. Wow Margie! *blush* I actually felt the need to go back and reread this a couple times : ) I have Robutussin with codine in it to take for croup. My mom gave it to me this morning and then let me sleep. I just woke up finally and am really sleepy still. So...wow! I wasn't expecting that this early - well rather this early in MY day : )

    Thank you so much!
    P.S. Yes, I think I'm definitely the youngest to post...always : ) LOl!

  89. I want to play too!

    She squeezed her eyes shut against the spinning world. "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. My stomach hurts. My stomach really hurts."
    She needed water.
    Inch by agonizing inch, she drug her body towards the water.

    Thanks Margie. It's exciting to use an old tool with a new name.
    Jane Wells

  90. Margie, these are great! I love learning new techniques that improve the quality of my writing. I'm working on revising my WIP and you've got me thinking of a couple of places to use one of these techniques. Thanks!


  91. Margie:
    I have so much enjoyed the blog. I didn't know what these devices were called but I've used them all. Not too often but just in underline specific important events in my manuscripts.
    Thank you for reinforcing their uses for me.
    Write on,
    Teresa Reasor

  92. Anaphora

    The summer of 1958 was a time. A time for chasing lightning bugs in the growing darkness, a time for snapping peas on the porch, a time for running from the inevitable belt buckle aimed at your behind.
    Gail signing in as anonymous

    I'm getting in late, but this was such a great lesson. Thank you.

  93. Oh rats!! I missed Margie--well, I missed the drawing, but not the class, thankfully! =)

    Those devices make such a huge difference and they're fun to play with. =)

    I took Empowering Character's Emotions last year and learned so much! I could immediately see the difference in my writing, and so could those who knew my writing.

    Thanks so much for being at Seekers, Margie! Great lesson, as always! =)

  94. Margie, I tried to comment yesterday but my internet froze up on me twice!

    Great, great post!! And what wonderful examples. I'm playing around with my wip now. :) Thank you!!

  95. Congrats to the lecture packet winners!

    Hugs all,