Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


From Blah to Beats: Giving Your Chapters a Pulse

You know the theory, read the books, have taken the classes, but still get critique groups/partners, agents, or editors saying:

“Something’s off.”

“The chapter doesn’t work.”

“The scenes don’t come alive”

“The conflict is bland.”  “The story is too small.”

And you thunk! Your head your heart, all your hard work. Heck, you’ve poured your blood, sweat, every free moment into your story, and you’ve got all the right pieces in all the right places. But somehow, someway you can’t jump the final hurdle. You can’t get where you want to go.  

Now is the time to make the theory work for you!

With fourteen-plus short, practical lessons, Giving Chapters a Pulse will drive your focus deep into your chapters

  • Develop focus
  • Create author goals for each chapter.
  • Develop character/s’ chapter goals.
  • Understand the difference between author goals and character goals.
  • Develop secondary characters story arch through their actions and their words.
  • Develop deep character/s that are motivated to take charge.
  • Develop a story voice that is rich and full of life.
  • Create dialog that can’t be cut.
  • Drive your narrative forward with action and conflict that builds tension.
  • Create compelling chapter hooks and endings that make the readers want more.
  • Leave out the blah and make your chapter a lean and mean beating heart.
  • Bring life to the surroundings as integral part of a chapter rather than a skimmed background chunk.
  • Weave in relevant back-story and leave out the extra.
  • Nix the head-hopping and the telling when you should be showing.

In this four week class an abundance of learning opportunities will promote discussion and give you plenty of opportunity to learn from each other. Submitting work will allow you to put the theory to work and benefit from classmates’ feedback. And as a multi-Margie grad with a masters in writing from Vermont College, I’ll also be digging deep to help you pull out your best work.

Lesson Plan

Week one: Big Picture

  • Introduce yourself
  • Your writing goals
  • Your character
  • Your character’s goals
  • Explore your stories forward motion
  • Defining story sentence
  • Dive deeper into character’s internal story
  • The antagonist has a story too.

Week Two: All About Chapters

  • The difference between chapter and scenes
  • Clarify chapter promise
  • Set scene goals
  • Dive deeper into motivation
  • Make the actions ratchet up the conflict and propel your chapter forward
  • Create character/chapter/ reader connection
  • Emotional shifts
  • Practical guide to stimulus/response

Week three: Going Deep

  • Emotions, meaning, tension and outcomes
  • Chapter openings
  • Chapter endings
  • Shifts between the two.

Week Four: How Much is too Much?

  • Psychic distance
  • Macros and Micros of chapters
  • How to be your own best critique partner
  • De-thought and tighten you angle

28 assignments, a plethora of personalized Think-Abouts, feedback on every assignment, extra from Rhay, this class is a rocking rolling, power-packed month that is sure to take your chapters from Blah to Beats.


Rhay Christou

Rhay Christou loves her dogs—Fredo and MoJoe—her teaching and writing. Making her home in a small village in Cyprus, when she is not wandering the National Park's trails, she uses her MFA in writing from Vermont College to share her knowledge and experience to cheerlead writers in creating their best stories. Since graduating, she has taught everything from creative writing to academic writing at the university level and writing workshops on the lovely island of Cyprus, in Greece and the USA.




A Game Changer

April 25, 2020

This is one of several classes I have taken with Rhay Christou (ALL great!) But this one really had me grinding the brain cells--in a good way! Rhay has a gift for teaching writing craft, especially to newbies like me. Her style is like "talking to your best friend", honest, but not diminishing. She lets you find your own way, with a little nudge here and there, letting you "keep the story yours". I've taken several of her classes more than once, working on the same WIP ,(.... yes, Rhay, I AM writing more...LOL.) and I learn something (many things!) every time. You won't be disappointed.

Karen Tinsley

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