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Archive for March, 2016

The 2016 Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference:

One Step Closer to Publication!

Conferees.on.Porch

Faculty Member Kathy Ide Critiquing Nonfiction

Plan to come!

As director of the Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference, I guarantee you’ll find faculty members who will help you get published. Besides 43 afternoon classes that cover everything from self publishing to blogging to writing novels to working with an editor to public speaking, we have an excellent line-up of continuing Major Morning seminars, concentrating on a specific genre or subgenre with best-selling authors:

  1. THE IRRESISTIBLE NOVEL – Jeff Gerke
  2. WHAT’S YOUR STORY? (How to Write a Memoir) – Larry J. Leech II
  3. THE INSPIRATION & THE PERSPIRATION (Beginners) – Roseanna White
  4. FOCUS ON JUVENILE FICTION – Jeanette Windle

Editors and Agents:

If you have a manuscript, and you’d like to show it to an editor or agent, plan to meet any of these faculty members, who just might be interested enough to consider it for publication:

  1. SUSAN M. BAGANZ – acquisitions editor with Prism Book Group (romance novels)
  2. JIM HART – agent with the Hartline Literary Agency (fictional suspense, romance, women’s fiction, & some sci-fi)
  3. MARSHA HUBLER – acquisitions editor with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (juvenile & tween fiction, adult fiction)
  4. ROSEANNA WHITE – managing editor of WhiteFire Publishing {non-fiction, romance (both historical and contemporary), biblical fiction, suspense, women’s fiction, and speculative fiction}
  5. JEANETTE WINDLE – acquisitions editor with Kregel Publishing (tween and adult fiction)

Work-in-Progress:

We also have three work-in-progress sessions this year with award-winning authors, who will work with you on your manuscript and get it publishing ready. (These WIPs are limited to 8 conferees each, so don’t wait to register!):

  1. FROM GOOD TO BETTER TO BEST (FICTION) – Gayle Roper
  2. HONING YOUR NONFICTION – Kathy Ide
  3. POETRY (EXAMINING WORKS IN PROGRESS) – Shirley Stevens

Check All the Details:

Please check out the Montrose Bible Conference website for all the details, including a listing of all classes and activities, a brochure, and a registration form.

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

We’d love to see you at Montrose from July 17th to the 22nd. But…if you can’t make it for the week, plan to come for a day or two. I promise you won’t be sorry.

Marsha

http://www.marshahubler.com

http://www.montrosebible.org

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

http://www.marshahubler.com

 

(More shameless promotion)

A HORSE TO LOVE 

Foster kid Skye Nicholson hates everyone and everything until she meets Champ,

a gorgeous show horse. Then everything changes…for both of them.

Keystone Stables Book 1

http://www.amazon.com/Horse-Love-Keystone-Stables-Book-ebook/dp/B002U80FZK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459004666&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Horse+to+Love+by+Marsha+Hubler

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Character Development

cartoon-worker-flexing-his-muscles-isolated-37246000

 

He’s a Nice Man? She’s a Nice Lady? Really?

 

Anyone who has tried to write fiction for any length of time realizes that character development is quite important to help your story move along and not be “flat.”

A writer who works diligently at his craft will spend much time developing his primary and secondary characters so that they jump out on the page and practically hug the reader, inviting him to join the party!

So, how is a character developed cleverly so that his description, life’s ambitions, demeanor, habits, quirks, and personal appearance are shown not told?

I guess the best way to demonstrate the proper technique is to “show” and not “tell,” so what we’ll do is look at some bad examples and then turn them into good examples.

Before studying the examples, please remember one important rule when working on character development. Listing all of the character’s traits in one paragraph is about the most boring technique a writer could ever use. A writer who develops his characters properly will embed all of the traits into the narration and/or dialogue so that the reader hardly notices what’s been done, yet will enjoy getting to know the characters on a personal level.

Now, let’s look at some bad examples and then compare them with some good examples:

Bad Example Number One: (Description)

“It’s me, Tanya!” She was so nervous, her voice quivered. Tanya was a tall African American teenager who had a nice shape. She wore a ponytail with long ringlets hanging down in front of her ears. Even though it was cold, all she had on were a thin jacket and jeans. She was really cold.

Good Example Number One:

“It’s me, Tanya!” a quivering voice answered. A tall African-American teenager stepped into the doorway, now in full view of the overhead lights. The girl folded her arms in a futile attempt to keep warm, her shapely frame covered with just a thin denim jacket and jeans. Her short ponytail and long strands of ringlets in front of her ears quivered as she tried to keep warm. (From Keystone Stables Book 3: Southern Belle’s Special Gift, p. 11, by Marsha Hubler)

Bad Example Number Two: (Demeanor or Personality)

Skye Nicholson was a thirteen-year-old brat who had been in trouble with the law for years. Now she found herself sitting in a courtroom, which didn’t seem to bother her one bit. She had a terrible temper, which her lawyer tried to control while they sat before the judge for Skye’s hearing. Skye slumped in her seat and yawned. She was really ignorant.

Good Example Number Two:

Skye Nicholson looked cold as an ice cube as she slumped in the wooden chair and stared back at Judge Mitchell. Most ordinary thirteen-year-olds would have been scared to death as a hearing with an angry judge yelling at the top of his lungs. But Skye was no ordinary thirteen-year-old. Her anger matched the judge’s. Only Wilma Jones, her court-appointed lawyer, prevented Skye from exploding. (From Keystone Stables Book 1: A Horse to Love, p.9, by Marsha Hubler)

Bad Example Number Three – (Description of a horse):

The horse was a beauty. He was a reddish-brown color, and he had a stripe down the middle of his face. His ears were real pointy. His mane and tail were silky and his coat was real smooth. He didn’t smell horsey at all. He smelled kind of like fresh-cut hay.

Good Example Number Three – (Description of the same horse):

The horse’s sharp ears pricked forward as if it could read her mind. A white stripe ran down the middle of its face, and its soft mane and tail blew in the breeze like corn silk. Its reddish-brown coat, sleek and smooth, sparkled in the sun. And the smell? Like sweet, fresh-mown hay. (From Keystone Stables Book 1: A Horse to Love, p.26, by Marsha Hubler)

Are you getting the idea? Embed all that information about the character right into the story. Let’s do one more, just for fun:

Bad Example Number Four: (Description and Feelings)

Louellen was totally embarrassed when she fell into her employer’s arms. It wasn’t only because she thought herself clumsy, but she loved this man because he was so handsome with wavy blonde hair and nice brown eyes. He always had wonderful-smelling cologne on too. Louellen was an Amish woman and dressed in Nineteenth Century clothes. She had green eyes and auburn hair with a white kapp on and a navy cape choring dress, which she always wore when she cleaned. When she tripped and fell into the man’s arms, she scared the family dog out of his wits too.

Good Example Number Four:

Louellen gasped for breath as she regained her balance and pulled away from her employer’s arms. His touch, first ever and accompanied by the sweet smell of his expensive Canoe after shave, stirred something deep inside Louellen’s heart that she didn’t expect. For a moment, she focused on his gorgeous wavy, blonde hair and handsome face and then quickly lowered her gaze. Never before had she allowed herself to look into this man’s gentle brown eyes, although she had studied him from a distance. Hands shaking, she adjusted the white mesh kapp covering her auburn hair and ran her hands down the sides of her navy cape choring dress. She shifted her green eyes to the dog sitting nearby with a puzzled look on his face as if to say, “What happened?” (From Love Song for Louellen book manuscript, p.1, by Marsha Hubler)

Well, there you have some character development examples for you to analyze.

What doesn’t work in the bad examples? What does work in the good examples? You decide; then look at some of your own character descriptions and see what you can do to improve them. Get those characters out of that boring descriptive box and turn them loose with their surroundings, some action, and some backdrop. Your editor and your reader will enjoy your writings much more!

Next time, we’ll discuss verbs that can kill your manuscript.

Happy writing!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

http://www.marshahubler.com

 

(More shameless promotion)

A HORSE TO LOVE

 

Keystone Stables Book 1

Foster kid Skye Nicholson hates everyone and everything until she meets Champ,

a gorgeous show horse.

 

Read Full Post »

Fiction: That Pesky Point of View

Over my twenty-year writing career, I have met many newbies to the fiction writing world who have struggled with one particular component, the mastery of which is essential to cranking out a “good” piece of fiction, whether it be a short story or novel.

I remember in my early writing days that I also struggled for a short period of time with P.O.V. as I developed my characters and gave them their proper place in my fiction works. Then the light bulb went on, and I figured out how to use the P.O.V. correctly.

Now don’t get me wrong. Even to this day I still slip up once in a while. However, my excellent critique group zeros in on my P.O.V. boo boos and helps me get it right. Slipping in and out of different P.O.V.s is extremely easy to do whether you’re a newbie or an experienced writer. Thus, mostly because of a request from a writer friend, I’m reviewing the proper use of P.O.V. today.

Learning to use P.O.V. effectively involves two gold nuggets of information. The first one is that, as the writer, you must put yourself in your character’s head and see everything through that character’s eyes. If you can remember that one rule of engagement, you’ll never have trouble with P.O.V. again. Jump into your story and become that character!

The second most important rule is that a writer should have only one character’s P.O.V. in a short story or per scene in a book manuscript. With kiddie lit and juvenile fiction, the story is best presented from one character’s P.O.V. through the entire book. Of course, there are always exceptions, but children want to enjoy a good story and usually “become” the main character in a short story or children’s book, so staying with one P.O.V. in children’s works, especially for younger children, is essential. With adult fiction, some best-selling authors often skillfully present up to 10 or 15 different P.O.V.s, but rarely are two P.O.V.s presented more than one in the same scene.

I’m going to give you an example of a short scene with three different main characters. The first scene uses P.O.V. incorrectly. The second example is the same scene rewritten with the proper use of P.O.V. Analyze each example and determine how the P.O.V. is used, then check out your own fiction work. Revise, revise, revise and keep working on that P.O.V.

Example One:

Sitting directly across from John, two young ladies reached for a tray of butter rolls in the center of the table. While John forked his mashed potatoes, he studied the girls in their white prayer kapps and Sunday-best dresses and the “awkward” situation that had developed. He bit his lip to suppress the urge to burst out laughing. For a moment, the gals held on to the tray as though it were glued to their hands.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sweet, kind Katrina Shoffler was the first to pull away. But I made those rolls, just for you, John! Oh, how I wish you knew how I felt about you. John smiled at Katrina as their eyes met, and she slid back into her chair. Her face with drab brown eyes and granny glasses, framed by mousy brown hair, turned bright red. She looked away from John, gave her glasses a quick poke, and nervously sipped her drink. But her kind heart and baked goods sure do make up for her plain looks, John mused as he took a bite of ham.

“I’ve got the tray,” Mandie Kauffman said as she tried to discreetly pull it from the other girl’s hand and move it toward John. I’m going to win you yet, John, if the other girls around here would just back off! Long black eyelashes fluttering, she gazed longingly at John while she brushed back a strand of loose jet-black hair and wrapped it around her ear.

 Ambitious Mandie, John thought. With her most attractive looks and urge to succeed, she just might be able to start that business she has got her eye on. And maybe she will get the husband she is after, to boot!

Crash! Right behind John, Sadie Hunsinger dropped a cup of coffee, and it shattered all over the floor.

Example Two:

Sitting directly across from John, two young ladies reached for a tray of butter rolls in the center of the table. While John forked his mashed potatoes, he studied the girls in their white prayer kapps and Sunday-best dresses and the “awkward” situation that had developed. He bit his lip to suppress the urge to burst out laughing.  For a moment, the gals held on to the tray as though it were glued to their hands.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sweet, kind Katrina Shoffler was the first to pull away. Although she had probably made the rolls, Katrina had the gentle spirit of a newborn fawn. She would never deliberately hurt another soul on God’s green earth. John knew that all too well from the time they were sweethearts in first grade at Maple Grove Mennonite School. John smiled at Katrina as their eyes met, and she slid back into her chair. Her face with drab brown eyes and granny glasses, framed by mousy brown hair, turned bright red. She looked away from John, gave her glasses a quick poke, and nervously sipped her drink. But her kind heart and baked goods sure do make up for her plain looks, John mused as he took a bite of ham.

“I’ve got the tray,” Mandie Kauffman said as she tried to discreetly pull it from the other girl’s hand and move it toward John. Long black eyelashes fluttering, she gazed longingly at John while she brushed back a strand of loose jet-black hair and wrapped it around her ear.

Ambitious Mandie, John thought. With her most attractive looks and urge to succeed, she just might be able to start that business she has got her eye on. And maybe she will get the husband she is after, to boot!

Crash! The sound of shattering glass right behind John startled him, and he turned quickly to see red-faced Sadie Hunsinger already bending down to clean up the mess she had made when she dropped her cup of coffee.

************************************************************************

If you compare both examples, you’ll see that in the first sample, we have three different P.O.V.s, not only in the same scene but sometimes in the same paragraph! Also, when the coffee cup shatters, John’s P.O.V. is incorrect. How does he know it’s Sadie who dropped her coffee cup until he turns to look at who, or what, caused the commotion? This type of dysfunctional writing only leads to reader confusion and a rejection slip from the editor to whom you’ve submitted. Nothing written this poorly would ever be published by a traditional company.

In the second sample, you see we are inside the head of John, and only John, the entire time. No one else’s thoughts should be included because we are seeing all the action through John’s eyes. When he hears the shattering glass and turns toward the sound, it is at that point that he knows that Sadie dropped her coffee cup because he is seeing what happened for the first time.

So, there you have a quickie analysis of P.O.V. I hope this helps clarify this pesky problem that many of us writers face as we work on our fiction masterpieces.

Next time, we’ll discuss character development and how to give that character of yours some “zap.”

Happy writing!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

http://www.marshahubler.com\

(More shameless promotion)

 

SOUTHERN BELLE’S SPECIAL GIFT

(KEYSTONE STABLES BOOK 3)

Foster kid Skye and her horse Champ have their hooves full

trying to help Tanya Bell, a wild foster kid, handle the loss

of a mare giving birth.

Keystone Stables Book 3

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Belles-Special-Keystone-Stables-ebook/dp/B003SE765M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455548107&sr=1-1&keywords=Southern+Belle%27s+Special+Gift

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