Margie Lawson’s Highlighting Editing System


I always liked to color, but this is a little different.

My editing partner, Jackie, introduced me (not in person) to Margie Lawson — whom she calls one of the premier writing teachers in the nation. After a primer on one of her workshops, I tend to agree.

Her EDITS System is this — highlighting different elements of your writing in different colors. Dialogue is blue, thoughts are yellow, setting is green, orange is tension, and pink is involuntary (visceral) response. Underline in red ink (I prefer purple) for action and taglines.

Once you finish, flip the page upside down and look at the colors. What’s out of balance? In my first chapter, I had a ton of thoughts and then a ton of dialogue, no visceral response, little about setting and tension. Those were the major weaknesses. I revised, and now, it’s MUCH better.

Grab some of your writing and give it a try. Next time, we’ll take a look at a paragraph of mine and dissect it this way. Hope this helps!

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