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Posts Tagged ‘author Marsha Hubler’

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 WRITER’S 14 COMMANDMENTS

Paper scroll and quill

Every writer should take himself seriously. Well, almost all the time. Once in a while, we have to turn off the computer, kick off our shoes, and have a good hearty laugh, especially if that last page of the manuscript just won’t “jive.”

There’s no better time to revert to a code of ethics (or non-ethics) to “lighten up.” Perhaps my 14 suggestions listed below will help ease the pain of your latest bout of writer’s block:

1. Thou shalt recite 100 times every day, “I’m a writer, I’m a writer.”

2. Thou shalt write every day, even if it is only I AM A WRITER 100 times.

3. Thou shalt not quit thy day job but shalt write by the light of the silvery moon.

4. If thou quittest thy day job, thou shalt be fully dressed, gargled, and at thy computer by 11 AM every day.

5. Thou shalt love thy computer and kiss it good morning every day.

6. Thou shalt not do other things before writing such as watching thy grass grow or brushing thy dog’s teeth.

7. Thou shalt query an editor at least once a year.

8. Thou shalt not smash thy computer after receiving thy first response from an editor.

9. Thou shalt not take out a full-page ad in the newspaper to announce thy first letter of acceptance.

10. Thou shalt make many copies of thy first letter of acceptance and frame them to hang in every room of thy dwelling.

11. Thou shalt join a critique group and attend writers’ conferences to hold thyself accountable.

12. Thou shalt not covet other writers’ million dollar advances.

13. Thou shalt be pleased with thy check of $30.

14. Thou shalt read books in the same genre as thou is writing to learn how to handle that genre.

There you go! With these 14 challenges instilled in your brain, you’re destined to become a best-selling author, so get back to work!

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DO YOU WRITE FICTION?

 

Me Know Everything!

If you want to write fiction, first you must decide for what age group you’ll write. Will you write for children or adults?

If you want to write for children, remember there are numerous subgenres and age groups in juvenile fiction.

Will you write for toddlers and preschoolers? Then you’re looking at a picture book often with fewer than 500 words that takes the child into his very small self-centered world. Unless you’re a trained artist, you probably shouldn’t attempt to do your own illustrations. Let the publishing company choose an illustrator from its stable of artists. He/she will do a fine job with your manuscript. Your main goal should be to write an irresistible story that the editor at the publishing company won’t be able to turn down.

Maybe you’d like to write a manuscript for a picture book styled after Dr. Seuss. Then study Dr. Seuss and his 60 books that are in print. Many of his books are 32 pages long with a manuscript that has several thousand words all cleverly written in perfect rhythm and meter poetry. It’s not as easy as you think.

Perhaps you’d like to write chapter books for six-to-ten-year-old kids. Here you’re looking at a book, usually without illustrations, that has about 64 to 80 pages (about 32,000 to 50,000 words). Your plot should take that reader from his familiar surroundings to worlds of fantasy and fun.

Then there are the subgenres for tweens and teens. You can write about any topic, any theme, and have well developed characters, plots, and subplots. How many words should you tackle? Anywhere from 30,000 to over 100,000 words. It’s not uncommon to see books of fantasy have at least 500 pages these days.

So get your creative juices flowing and start writing that children’s best-selling fiction story. Your kiddie audience awaits!

Marsha
www.marshahubler.com
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Author of the best-selling Keystone Stables Series

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Take a look at Marsha’s latest release:

TOMMI POCKETS

She wished she was a boy. But why?

https://amzn.to/2Zkx48L

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PLOT # 14

LOVE

Pride and Prejudice

Splash

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

My Fair Lady

If you’re considering writing a romance, take into consideration the following information that just might help you write a best seller:

  1. The prospect of love should always be met with a major obstacle. Your characters may want it, but they can’t have it for any variety of reasons. At least not right away.

2. The lovers are usually ill-suited in some way. They may come from different social classes or they may be physically unequal (one is blind or have special needs).

3. The first attempt to solve the obstacle is almost always thwarted. Success doesn’t come easily. Love must be proven by dedication and stick-to-it-iveness.

4.  As one observer once put it, love usually consists of one person offering the kiss and the other offering the cheek, meaning one lover is more aggressive in seeking love than the other. The aggressive partner is the seeker, who completes the majority of the action. The passive partner (who may want love just as much) still waits for the aggressive partner to overcome the obstacles. Either role can be played by either sex.

5.  Love stories don’t need to have happy endings. If you try to force a happy ending on a love story that clearly doesn’t deserve one, your audience will refuse it. True, Hollywood prefers happy endings, but some of the world’s best love stories (Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Love Story) are very sad.

6.  Concentrate on your main characters to make them appealing and convincing. Avoid the stereotypical lovers. Make your characters and their circumstances unique and interesting. Love is one of the hardest subjects to write about because it’s been written about so often, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well. You will have to feel deeply for your characters, though. If you don’t, neither will your readers.

7. Emotion is an important element in writing about love. Not only should you be convincing, but you should develop the full range of feelings: fear, loathing, attraction, disappointment, reunion, consummation, etc. Love has many feelings associated with it and you should be prepared to develop them according to the needs of your plot.

8.  Understand the role of sentiment and sentimentality in your writing and decide which is better for your story. If you’re writing a formula romance, you may want to use the tricks of sentimentality. If you’re trying to write a one-of-a-kind love story, you will want to avoid sentimentality and rely on true sentiment in your character’s feelings.

9.  Take the lovers through the full ordeal of love. Make sure they are tested (individually and collectively) and that they finally deserve the love they seek. Love is earned; it is not a gift. Love untested is not true love.

So, there you have it. If you’ve started a romance, do a checklist using these nine essential “ingredients” and see how many you’ve included to shape that novel into a page turner.

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B.  20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Kindle Locations 1185-1207). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing fiction of any kind.

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COMING SOON!

MY LATEST RELEASE!

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH: A 60-Day Devotional for Kids

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Let’s Talk Grammar for a While

(Post Number Four)

Mr. Em—Dash and Nanny En-Dash

 

 Although many folks use these little dashes interchangeably, there is a correct use for each one. I dare say that some beginning writers might not even know there is an em dash and an en dash. They might think they’re one in the same. So let’s go to the Grammar Dashboard and discuss these two punctuation marks’ appearance and use.

“The Em Dash—”

This “long” hyphen denotes a sudden break in thought that causes a sharp change in the structure of the sentence. It can be used anywhere in a simple sentence with the insertion of a shorter sentence or phrase to change the thought or it can be used to complement a certain part of speech (usually a noun). When the em dash appears at the end of a line of dialogue, it represents an interruption by another person’s following remark or an abrupt end to the line of dialogue. Let’s look at some examples:

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Example  One:

With Mayor Combs’ health problems, will he—should he—run for office again?

Barry gave away all the puppies but one—the brown one with the pink nose.

Three gorgeous horse breeds—the Arabian, Tennessee Walker, and Quarter Horse—are my favorites.

George W. Bush—a past governor and U.S. president—now lives in Texas.

*NOTE: there should be NO spaces before or after the em dash in the previous examples.

A word to the wise writer: don’t go overboard with em dashes. They should be used sparingly. Never use more than one em dash—or a pair of them—in one sentence. Also, if you think a comma, parenthesis, or a colon would work, then by all means use one of them instead of the em dash.

Example Two:

Mable yelled at her brother, “Stop that or I’ll—”

“Or you’ll what?” her brother yelled back.

“What is that bright light in the sky?” Susie asked her friend. “Is it a—” Susie was so frightened, she could no longer speak.

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Now, you might be asking, “Where in the world do I find the em dash on my keyboard? Can I just plug in two hyphens? Some word processors automatically convert hyphens to en dashes and em dashes. For instance, if I type two hyphens simultaneously after the last word without any space then hit “Enter,” the computer converts that to an em dash. But if that doesn’t work, do this to insert an em dash: hold down the CTRL key and ALT key simultaneously and hit the hyphen on the numeric keypad.

“The En Dash –”

I’ll be the first one to confess that I don’t use the en dash the way I should. I usually use a hyphen instead because it’s just easier to insert.

Anyway, an en dash has three distinct uses. They connect inclusive numbers as in dates, pages, and Bible verses. They are used in compound adjectives with open compounds or when two or more elements are open compounds or hyphenated compounds. And they are used to link a city to the name of a university that has multiple campuses. Here are the examples:

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Example One: The date 1934-35; the pages 190 -191; Genesis 3:2 – 4 (My computer chose not to convert my hyphens to en dashes. It is acceptable to use hyphens in this way)

Example Two: the post – Vietnam era;   a brother – sister relationship

Example Three: Penn State University – State College, PA

 

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“And, pray tell,” you might ask, “where does one find this little rascal on the keyboard?”

Well, now that you asked, here’s the answer: (If your computer feels like cooperating) – type your word, insert a space, then type a hyphen and the next letter or word immediately without a space, and the computer should convert the hyphen to an en dash. Try it and see what happens. Sometimes my PC does it; sometimes it doesn’t. Go figure.

So have some fun with em dashes and en dashes; learn to use them sparingly and spruce up your writing style with a little extra flavor. You just might catch the eye of an editor—or an agent—as you write the best you know how!

Next time, we’ll look at colons, the little double periods stacked on top of each other.

Keep on writing and have a successful new year!

Marsha

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

www.marshahubler.com

P.S. If you haven’t been receiving my periodic Montrose Christian Writers Conference newsletters about the exciting 2017 conference and you’d like to be on the mailing list, please contact me. A tremendous faculty has committed and promises to present dynamite classes for all aspects of writing.

More shameless promotion:

KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 4

SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE

Keystone.Stables.Composite

Junior counselor Skye learns a good lesson about patience and jumping to conclusions.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TFE5VI/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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