Archive for October, 2015

October 26, 2015

Fiction That Wows Your Reader (Part 3)

Write Narration That Shows and Doesn’t Tell

If you’ve attended writers’ conferences for any length of time, you’ve probably heard this statement from fiction authors so many times you’ve felt like letting out a good scream or two: “Show, don’t tell.”

What in the world does that mean anyway? Show, Don’t Tell. In a fiction work, usually in narration, a writer must “tell” details of characters or scenes to add depth and mood to the story. But how is that done without boring your reader to the point of his tossing your book in file 13?

I’ve found the best way to learn this technique is to read best-selling published authors. I’ve written pages and pages of excerpts of good writing, NOT TO COPY, but to study the authors’ use of words, clever descriptions, and the mood. I then attempted to apply their techniques to my own writing, and after working at it for years, I began to see a vast improvement in my own style.  Now after 20 years, I think I finally have a handle on learning to show and not tell.

Let’s look at a few examples of “telling” vs. “showing” and determine which samples would hold the reader’s interest by drawing him into the description or action and which samples should find their way into the DELETE file:

Sample One

 Sample of Telling – this is a scene description from one of my Keystone Stables books, SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE that I rewrote in a lousy “telling” mode. The main character, Skye Nicholson, is on a trail ride with some campers:

The riders lined up their horses and looked at the waterfalls about 50 yards away. Above their heads was water over some rocks. It tumbled on more rocks that were even with the riders. The water made big white splashes and then was smooth. The waterfall droplets and sunlight made a rainbow, and off to one side a little stream flowed away from the waterfall and down the mountain. A breeze made the waterfall mist fly everywhere in the air, hitting the riders in the face. Skye was amazed.

Sample of Showing – the actual scene description in SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE:

Lining up their horses, the riders sat gawking at nature’s water show half a football field away. Far above their heads, the falls flooded over a table of rocks arrayed on both sides by the greenest trees Skye had ever seen.

The water thundered as it crashed down over more layers of rocks, tumbling, tumbling, until it splashed onto large boulders level with the riders. There, billows of white foam faded into ripples that quickly smoothed into a serene pool as clear as glass.

A rainbow arched in a stream of sunlight. Off to one side the pool overflowed, forming the gushing stream that had found its way down the mountain to form Lackawanna Lake. Fed by the falls, a steady breeze and fine mist saturated the cool air around the riders, welcoming them to the secret and special place.


(Keystone Stables Series Book 4)

 Sample Two

 Sample of Telling – another scene below from one of my books. I’ve rewritten the published paragraph here poorly in the “telling” mode. From THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON, the paragraph describes the scene from Woody’s, the main character’s, viewpoint when she arrives at the summer sleuth camp, pulls into the mock “canteen” in the western town in a van with five other kids, and meets some of the other campers unexpectedly:

Woody looked at the canteen when the door flew open. It hit the building hard. A small group of boys came running out who were very excited. They ran across the porch and down the steps. Mixed in with the boys were three men who were yelling for the boys to stop. The tallest man held on to his hat because he was afraid it was going to topple off his head.

 Sample of Showing -this same scene written in its published form:

The canteen door flew open with hurricane force and smacked against the building. Out barreled a small group of boys bubbling with unbridled excitement. With no immediate plan to stop, they rushed across the porch and stampeded down the steps. Caught in the whirlwind were three helpless men spinning like tops and yelling for the boys to stop. The tallest man was trying desperately to keep his bobbling black Stetson in place.

From THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON, Sonfire Media, 2010

 * Did you notice how I included descriptive words and phrases that set the tone or mood of a “western” scene?

So, there we have two samples of “telling” versus “showing.”

Take a good look at your narration when you use no dialogue. What can you do to draw your reader right into the scene? Details, details, details. Clever wording of the action. And how about a little humor once in a while? See the scene through your main character’s eyes, and the scene will practically jump off the page.

Next time, we’ll discuss another phrase you’ve probably heard so many times you just tune it out whenever it comes across your path anymore: “Don’t preach!”

Marsha (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com


(More Shameless Promotion)


Keystone Stables Book 4

 (Book 4 in the Keystone Stables Series)

Skye has a test of her love and patience when a deaf boy, Jonathan,

defies her every attempt to teach him how to ride a horse properly. Then one day

he takes a horse and sneaks off into the hills and is lost.


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Fiction That Wows Your Reader (Part 2)

Fixing the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome”


Last time, we discussed what I call the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome,” a creative crime that so many writers find themselves committing. Even frequently published writers like myself can easily fall prey to this “beginner’s style,” which will kill any story, if we aren’t careful.

I said that I’d rewrite the small passage of poorly written dialogue in the post to show you the proper way to handle “dialogue that flows.” First, you will see the lousy dialogue as was posted last time. Then I’ll follow with the rewritten dialogue for you to analyze both:

The “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome” Dialogue

“Pete,” Mary said. “I’m going to the movies. Do you want to go with me?”

“Not tonight, Mary,” Pete said. “I have too much homework.”

“Well, Pete, how about just a game of Boggle?” Mary asked.

“Mary, I can’t even do that,” Pete said. “I’ve got too much to do.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Mary said. “You can certainly take a half hour or so to relax a little.”

“Mary, I said no! I just can’t tonight, so get lost!” Pete said. “By the way, bad joke.”


Now Let’s Look at the Dialogue That Flows (after fixing the problem)

“Pete,” Mary said. “I’m going to the movies. Do you want to go with me?”

“Not tonight,” Pete said. “I have too much homework.”

“Well, how about a game of Boggle?” Mary went to the bookshelf and retrieved a game box.

Pete never shifted his gaze away from his history book. “I can’t even do that! I’ve got too much to do.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake! You can certainly take a half hour or so to relax a little.”

“I said no!” Pete had finally lost all patience with his twin sister. “I just can’t tonight. By the way, bad joke.”



Now, there you have the rewritten dialogue. We cut a fistful of “Mary” and “Pete,” and we added some beats instead of using so many tags. Here are a few questions to stimulate your thinking and analysis:

What do you think makes this second excerpt so much more interesting?

What do you know from the second excerpt that you didn’t know from the first?

How did I accomplish filling in some details?

And what about those tags and beats? What in the world are those little entities?

Yep, tags and beats. They are SO essential to writing good dialogue.

Next time, we’ll discuss those tricks of the writing trade in detail. Learn to use tags and beats effectively, and your dialogue will have a spark that will simply “wow” your reader.

Marsha (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

  • Make plans now to come July 17th to the 22nd: Some faculty members include: Larry Leech, Jeanette Windle, Kathy Ide, Gayle Roper, Shirley Stevens, and a blogging/social media expert, Don Catlett

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com


(More Shameless Promotion)

Keystone Stables book 6


(Book 6 in the Keystone Stables Series)

Skye has a real test to love a new foster kid,

 who really likes her but rubs her the wrong way

 every time he opens his mouth.


Read Full Post »



Smiley.Face.SmilingWhen’s the last time you read a really good work of fiction that had you turning every page to see what would happen next?

When’s the last time you read a really poorly written book that you put away after about three pages, never to return?Sad.Smiley.Face

What made the difference in the two works that either got your attention or bored you stiff? Have you analyzed the writing styles of both authors?

Have you analyzed your writing style lately?

For the next few blogs, let’s look at three of the most important components of good fiction that can help anyone shape up a work that will draw the reader right into the story:

  1. Flowing dialogue
  2. Snappy narration
  3. Creative characters

Flowing Dialogue

What in the world does that mean?

Flowing dialogue is “natural” dialogue or conversation in your book that sounds “normal,” that’s easy to read, and that which fits the personality and background of each character, who has an important speaking part in your story.

Let’s begin this discussion with one of my pet peeves, what I call the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome.”

Anyone who is as old as I am remembers that when TV was in its early stages and just becoming a member of every household, programs like “Leave it to Beaver” were in their infancy with some of the scriptwriting quite poorly done. Such is the case in many of these early sitcoms, in particular, the dialogue between the characters.

If you are a fan of the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome,” here’s a sample of how your dialogue looks between the only two characters in your scene:

“Pete,” Mary said. “I’m going to the movies. Do you want to go with me?”

“Not tonight, Mary,” Pete said. “I have too much homework.”

“Well, Pete, how about just a game of Boggle?” Mary asked.

“Mary, I can’t even do that,” Pete said. “I’ve got too much to do.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Mary said. “You can certainly take a half hour or so to relax a little.”

“Mary, I said no! I just can’t tonight, so get lost!” Pete said. “By the way, bad joke.”


Now, there you have a prime example of the “Leave it to Beaver Syndrome.” Can you identify the one obvious weak element in this beginner’s writing?

Blue.Sad.Smiley.FaceWhat I’d like you to do until next time is rewrite this mini-scene and rid it of this ho-hum style that will put your reader to sleep. Then check some of your own writing for the same reoccurring problem, which will inspire your reader to use your book as kindling wood.

In my next blog, the scene will be rewritten, shaping it into something that isn’t as stagnant, redundant, and just downright boring. Learn the trick of this methodology, and you’ll be one step closer to getting that contract for your book.Kissy.Smiley.Face


Marsha (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Montrose Christian Writers Conference) http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com


(More Shameless Promotion)



Can Skye and Champ help a blind foster girl learn

to barrel race a horse at Keystone Stables?

Keystone Stables Book 5





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October 5, 2015


Speaking at Conferences, Niche Audiences, and the Like

(Marketing and Promotion Post Number Twelve)


The last few blogs, we’ve looked at eleven different ways to promote yourself and your books. I’ve saved today’s venue of marketing, “personal appearances,” until last because, for me, it’s been the most effective and profitable way of marketing my books. Why? There are several reasons:

  1. When I’m invited to speak, the inviting party usually pays for, at least, travel expenses. I don’t have to put my own money up front. Most of the time, I also receive a speaking honorarium as well. Even when I don’t sell many books, I have a little some monetary reimbursement for my time and effort.
  2. For some reason, authors are held in high regard in our society. People want to “get close to” authors and sometimes treat them like celebrities (even though you might be a no-name), so they will buy your book to take a piece of you home with them! It has been calculated that, when you speak, you can usually sell to at least a quarter of your audience. So, when I stand before a crowd, I usually have favorable sales. I’ve always had the opportunity to display my books on a table and sell before and after my spiel. I remember one time, I spoke on a Saturday at a ladies’ seminar in a New York town that hosted about 250 attendees. I took 50 of my Bible study guides with me and could have sold more (besides the first two books in the Keystone Stables series.)
  3. During book signings when I might be asked to speak, I consider it a great advantage to meet and greet fans, who have taken the time to come and see me. Sometimes they bring a few of my books they bought someplace else for me to autograph. But most of the time, they make that special trip to buy an autographed copy. Ever since my first book signing many years ago, I’ve offered special deals, token gifts, prizes in drawings, or free books to those who buy my books, especially a complete Keystone Stables set. However, if they buy only one book, I can be fairly certain they’ll be back for more, either by getting them from me, going to a local book store, or ordering them online. No matter which way the fan makes the purchase, it’s another book tallied toward the best-seller status.

Develop Your Unique Platform

So, your book’s being published, or it’s already released. If you haven’t developed a platform for yourself yet, spend some time thinking about that. If you’ve had a book published, then you can be considered an “expert” about something you’ve written. Speaking engagements WILL sell your books. You just need to get your name out there and go for it.

Do you write for children? Then speak about children to parents, PTFs, support groups, club leaders, etc. Do you write devotionals? Then speak to church groups, Bible study groups, missionary societies, etc. Do you write about animals? Just imagine all the groups, clubs, and organizations that support the care of animals of any kind.

And what kind of speaking engagements are most profitable? Here is the list that has helped me become a best-selling author:

1. Writers conferences – other writers want to read what has brought you your measure of success.

2. Church events, i.e. ladies’ days, children’s Sunday schools, Mother/Daughter banquets, homeschool gatherings – of course, with my Bible study guide, homeschool book, and K.Stables books, these groups are my niche.

3. Schools and niche audience clubs, i.e. riding academies

4. Community organizations, i.e. Senior Citizens clubs

5. Book stores (I’ve already addressed this issue. Make sure you are there on a BIG sales day of an authors’ fest day when a group of authors are invited) Sometimes, the manager will want you to do a reading. That helps draw an audience.

6. Radio and TV interviews (I’ve not been fortunate enough to do any TV)

And one last note about speaking. With the explosion in technology, I’ve converted all my “speeches” to colorful, graphics-active Power Points, and the audiences love them. It’s the most entertaining way to keep everyone focused on your books and you, and you can have a good time doing it, as well.

Well there you have my marketing heart in a huge nutshell of a dozen different posts. We’ve discussed 12 different venues for marketing your book over the last few weeks. Analyze your niche audience, plan a strategy to sell books, and hit the road, Jack.

Marsha (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com


More Shameless Promotion



Keystone Stables Book 4

Skye and Champ face some tough challenges at a summer camp

when deaf boy Jonathan runs away on a horse and gets lost in the woods.





Read Full Post »

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