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Archive for the ‘Writing Nonfiction’ Category

On Writing: Excellent Character Development

Here we go! Here are 10 ways to make your characters come alive in that next great American novel you’re writing:

1. Make each character uniquely different with different names. A few years ago, I had another writer friend critique my first four chapters of the Amish fiction I wrote, and she caught a “biggie.” I had two characters named “Joe.” DUH!

2. Give each character his own distinctive voice. After a few chapters, your reader should be able to tell who’s speaking without even looking at the tag.

3. Have your characters working jobs or going to school or doing “something” relevant to the plot. If you’re writing a murder mystery, your main character probably shouldn’t be babysitting puppies for a living.

4. When you name your characters, give them names that fit their personality, body type, nationality, etc. Now picture this: your character is a 220-pound Italian hunk, built like Superman and he’s a policeman, then you give him the name “Wilbur.”

5. If you’re writing fiction with different viewpoints, only get inside the head of your main characters. I’ve read books by one of the leading writers of Amish fiction in the country, but I have trouble following her because of the multiple P.O.V.s. In one book, there were 16 P.O.V.s. I was so confused, I had to start over and write down everyone’s name, who they were, and what they did in the book. The author has a big name, but I don’t care for trying to unscramble all those P.O.V.s.

6. Build your characters a little at a time as you write the novel. The plot should “thicken” at the same time you start to describe your characters more vividly and get them totally involved in the action.

7. Even though you’re writing fiction, be authentic. Interview policeman, veterinarians, computer geeks, or whomever so you have a thorough understanding of their job descriptions. In book seven of my Keystone Stables horse series, I wrote about a barn fire. Before doing so, I went to the local firemen and interviewed them to get the details of how the fire company would handle a barn fire in a countryside setting. I asked what kind of equipment they needed, what certain names of the trucks were, and how they’d tackle the task. The account in my book is accurate and detailed, even though the book is fiction.

8. Start each characters’ names with different letters. How confusing would this be? Sam told Susie that Stella was going to be with Savannah the night of the social. Sheesh! Who’s who in that quandary?

9. For at least your main characters, give them some depth by including some history about them. They didn’t just hatch from eggs the day you started writing about them. (Or did they?) Build character sketches for each of them. I’ve heard of some writers giving their characters full families, birthdays, college degrees, bank accounts in Sweden, and so on to “flesh them out.” Details DO matter when you’re writing about people. Write so that your reader thinks he/she can almost hear your characters breathe.

10. Have your characters less than perfect. Develop flaws in their appearances or personalities, which they must overcome or accept as the plot unfolds. No one likes to read about a character who seems too good to be true. In the long run, that character will be too good to be true, and he/she will turn your reader right off.

P.S. I hope you’re making plans to attend the 2020 Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference. More details coming soon, but we have agents, editors, and best-selling authors for fiction, kid lit, devotions, magazine articles, adult fiction, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and more! Don’t miss it: July 12th to the 17th!

Marsha

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 What Does It Mean to Write Tight?

How often have you heard conference speakers, i.e. authors, agents, and editors, say that, to be a successful, published author, you need to write “tight”? The term kind of reminds me of squeezing something big into something tiny or speaking poignantly.

So in pen laymen’s terms, what in the world does writing “tight” mean?

Here are eight qualities that will define a piece of literature as “tight” or stripped to its cleanest components:

1. Use specific nouns:
Not: The bird flew over.
Rather: The raven flew over the barn.

2. Pitch out as many adverbs as you can:
Not: He spoke loudly and angrily.
Rather: He yelled!

3. Be positive in sentence inflection:
Not: He didn’t show any respect.
Rather: He showed no respect.

4. Use active not passive voice with your verbs:
Not: Bowser, the dog, was walked by Joe.
Rather: Joe walked his dog, Bowser.

5. Get rid of sentences that start with “There” or “There were:”
Not: There was a lot of snow last month.
Rather: Last month’s snow total broke records.

6. Show, don’t tell; in other words, describe your action clearly:
Not: Billy was really angry.
Rather: Billy pounded his fist on the table.

7. Watch for redundant phrases:
Not: Millie blushed with embarrassment.
Rather: Millie’s face turned bright red.

8. Use down-to-earth language and throw out eloquent pedantic phrases and euphemisms that no one will know what the heck you’re talking about:
Not: Rickie’s face showed lines of agony and remorse while streams of tears flooded her poor anguished soul.
Rather: Rickie cried as though her heart was broken.

So, there you have it. Embrace these tidbits on how to become a best-selling author, and your readers will be begging for more.

Me Know Everything!

Marsha Hubler
(Website) www.marshahubler.com
(Blog) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

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Six Tips for Beginners

So, you’ve got your blank screen before you, you’ve got a tremendous idea for the “next great American novel,” you’ve got your dictionary, thesaurus, Elements of Style, and your Chicago Manual of Style ready. You rub your hands together, blow on your fingernails, and say, “Look out, world. Here comes brilliance!”

If you’ve never tried writing anything but eight-line poems or a letter to the newspaper’s editor once in a while, there are a few tips I’d like to share with you to help you not only write well but also get published. You might not be ready for a novel; perhaps, a 1200-word fiction story or article would be the best way to start.

Whether you’re determined to write a novel or start with shorter stuff, the tips I want to share will help. They’ll also be brief and to the point. In other words, I will not expound with long, convoluted sentences, which is one of the tips I have for you.

Tips to Help You Write Well:

1. Don’t write long, convoluted sentences. Write short, poignant sentences with very few flowery words and long descriptive paragraphs. Today’s readers won’t stand for your showing off for pages of narration that will bore them to death and cause them to set a match to your work.

2. Avoid the exclamation mark! One per page is often too many. Use clever words to emphasize emotion and action. Stay away from the exclamation mark!

3. Even if you’re writing fiction, be accurate. Do your homework. If you’re describing a fire scene, make sure you visit your local fire company and get all the details of what fire fighting is all about.

4. Stay away from fancy words. Go for simple active verbs, not descriptive adverbs and impressive adjectives. Instead of “She walked limply and lazily” try “She hobbled.”

5. Avoid figures of speech. They often distract your readers from the real core meaning of your sentence or paragraph. It just makes your reader think you were too lazy to put your own words together to write a clever line.

6. Try to stay in the background, like, invisible. A skillful writer will have his/her readers engrossed in the story, identifying with the character or theme and will not give the author a second thought. Not until the last page. Then the readers are free to exclaim, “Wow! What a story!” (And with the exclamation marks!)

Marsha Hubler
www.marshahubler.com
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Author of the Keystone Stables Series

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Start saving and make plans to join us next July 12th to the 17th at the 31st Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA. We have editors, agents, and best-selling authors on faculty to help you with any facet of your writing. :) 

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THE 2020 MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE FACULTY

JULY 12TH-17TH

WHO HAS SAID THEY WANT TO COME?


AGENTS
SALLY APOKEDAK – APOKEDAK LIT. AGENCY
JIM HART – HARTLINE
MICHELLE LAZUREK – WORDWISE

EDITORS
MATT HOLLIDAY – PA MAGAZINE
JEFF MCDONALD – WAR CRY (SALV. ARMY)
CINDY SPOLES – LIGHTHOUSE PUBL. OF THE CAROLINAS
VIE HERLOCKER – FREELANCE

MARKETING/PROMOTION EXPERT
KAREN WHITING

SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT
DON CATLETT

PRAISE & WORSHIP LEADER AND W-I-P
ALISON EVERILL

ART & CREATIVITY
DAVE WEISS

AUTHORS
ANNETTE WHIPPLE – KIDS’ NONFICTION
JOYCE MAGNIN – KIDS’ FICTION
ZOE MCCARTHY – ADULT FICTION (W-I-P)
MICHELE CHYNOWETH – FICTION
SUE FAIRCHILD – DEVOTIONS/CHICKEN SOUP PIECES
TIFFANY STOCKTON – FICTION 

Writers, mark your calendar now for July 12th to the 17th!
The 31st Montrose Christian Writers Conference promises to be one you won’t want to miss!
Marsha, Director

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THE NECESSITY OF WRITERS’ CONFERENCES

The best training you’ll ever receive is that which you’ll get by attending writers conferences. Next to your local critique group, writers workshops and conferences will give you the knowledge you need to become a better writer. The various workshops offered usually take you from A to Z concerning the writing/publishing business with fresh ideas for you to try.

You also make new long-lasting writer friends, kindred spirits who think just like you do. (They don’t call us “Odd Ducks” for nothing.)

Writers conferences also offer you the opportunity to present your work face to face to agents and editors of publishing companies. I’ve acquired four of my five book contracts by meeting editors at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference held in Montrose, PA, every July.

Speaking of conferences, why don’t you check out the details of our last Montrose Christian Writers Conference at https://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx. Plan to come to our next one from July 12th to July 17th, 2020. We plan to have three agents, three editors of publishing companies, and award-winning authors on our faculty.

If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Director of MCWC Marsha Hubler
www.marshahubler.com
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Author of the Keystone Stables Series

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THE MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE

Writers, the 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference is history for a month already. With over 100 writers, agents, and editors gathered together in mid-July, we had a wonderful week of fellowship and learning how to write better for God’s glory.

Believe it or not, I’m already working on the 2020 MCWC and already have verbal commitments from about 10 authors, editors, and agents. Lord willing, our next conference will be held from Sunday, July 12th to Friday, July 17th, 2020. A few folks who’ve already said yes to coming on faculty are freelance editor Vie Herlocker, literary agents Sally Apokedak and Michelle Lazurek, authors Annette Whipple, Joyce Magnin, and Tiffany Amber Stockton, social media expert Don Catlett, and marketing guru Karen Whiting. There are still about five or six more potential faculty members, so check in often to see the final line-up, hopefully before the holidays are upon us.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned writer and whether you write fiction or nonfiction, there will be over 40 classes presenting all facets of the writing/publishing world. We also have interesting and fun events Monday through Thursday evenings, often allowing conferees interaction with faculty members.

Then there’s Frank and Bucky, who always liven up the week’s boring moments (if there is such a thing.)

So mark your calendar and start sprucing up your manuscripts. Next July you just might find yourself with a contract in your hands.

 

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The Dynamite 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference Faculty

Writers, if you’ve never attended a writers conference, this is the year to do it. We have a tremendous faculty coming who will be glad to sit down with you and review your work in private. Also, plan to attend over 45 classes that will teach you about fiction, nonfiction, poetry, songwriting, marketing, working with editors, finding an agent, and much more.

One of our editors is Roseanna White, (also an author), whose company WhiteFire is looking for juvenile fiction and adult fiction.

Another faculty member is Lora Zill. Lora teaches writing and critical analysis at Gannon University and creative writing for Allegheny College’s arts programs for gifted middle and high school students. She is also a teaching artist with the PA Council on the Arts, conducting artist residencies in public schools and training teachers in arts infused curriculum. Lora edits and publishes a poetry journal, Time Of Singing, and speaks at writing, education, and arts conferences. She has co-authored a chapter on creativity in an academic textbook and her award-winning poetry and nonfiction have been published widely. She is completing a book about feeling God’s pleasure through creative expression and blogs at www.thebluecollarartist.com.

The rest of our faculty include:

Dan Brownell – editor with Today’s Christian Living

Rebecca Irwin Diehl – editor  with The Secret Place

Alison Everill – Praise and Worship Leader

Deb Haggerty – publisher and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing

Pam Halter – award-winning children’s book author

Jim Hart – agent with Hartline Literary Agency

Gloria Penwell-Holtzlander – acquis. editor with Bold Vision Books

Jeanette Levellie – award-winning author

Elaine W. Miller – international speaker and best-selling author

Linda Rondeau – editor with Elk Lake Publishing

Gayle Roper – award-winning author

Donna Smith – editor of the blog “Almost An Author”

Shawn Smucker – award-winning author

Kim Sponaugle – award-winning illustrator

Diane Stark – award-winning author

Jim Watkins – award-winning author

Please check more details about this faculty at https://www.facebook.com/MontroseChristianWriters/ For more details about the conference and registration forms, please go to http://www.montrosebible.org

Register now, gather your tote bag full of your work, and get ready for July 14th. I’ll look for you then at Montrose!

Marsha, Director

 

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