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Posts Tagged ‘writing good fiction’

MCWC’S FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

 AUTHOR ZOE MCCARTHY


A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, is the author of six contemporary Christian romances containing humor and tenderness. Her nonfiction book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is designed to shape a not-yet-submitted, a rejected, or a self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The book can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript. Zoe is a member of Word Weavers and American Christian Fiction Writers (treasurer for the Virginia chapter). She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

ZOE’S CLASSES

 

MORNING

WORK-IN-PROGRESS

ADULT FICTION

(LIMIT: 8 CONFEREES)

MONDAY -THURSDAY

10:35 – 12:10

 

AFTERNOON CLASSES

WEDNESDAY

3:30 – 4:15

“Make a Scene of Your Scene:

4 Improvements to Make Your Scene Stand Out”

Based on topics from Zoe M. McCarthy’s book

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days (Sonfire Media, 2019)

Participants will learn through instruction, examples, and short exercises:

  1. How to include a zinger in their scene’s dialogue
  2. How to add suspense to their scene in any genre
  3. How to use an imaginary video camera to make their scene’s setting come alive
  4. How to round out flat characters introduced in their scene

THURSDAY

3:30 – 4:15

“Share your Writing Journey as Part of your Marketing Plan”

Participants will learn through instruction and examples:

  1. What elements to include in their writing journey presentation
  2. How to write their writing journey
  3. Venues to share their writing Journey

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Writers, stay in touch concerning our 2020 MCWC conference. Things look promising, but we encourage you to register as soon as you can, so we can evaluate the financial ramifications of going forward with the conference. I look forward to seeing many of you in Montrose next month. Keep on praying.

Marsha, Director

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The MCWC Faculty Spotlight: Hartline Literary Agent Jim Hart

One of our 2020 MCWC faculty members will be Jim Hart.

Jim is a literary agent with the Hartline Literary Agency. His clients include both veteran and debut authors, and represent a mix of non-fiction and fiction. He serves both the Christian and general markets. Jim is also a singer/songwriter and worship leader and has been involved in youth and music ministry as well as social outreach for several decades.

Currently Jim is most interested in non-fiction on the topics of Christian living, church growth, social issues, parenting, biographies, and some self-help.

Jim is also looking at select fiction in these categories: suspense/thrillers, romance (contemporary, historical, Amish, and suspense), women’s fiction, speculative and sci-fi.

He is not looking at children’s or middle-grade fiction at this time.

JIM’S CLASSES
Wednesday

Are You Ready to Work with an Agent?

This class will help you evaluate where you are in your writing journey and help you to determine if you are properly prepared to look for a literary agent. We will address specific steps that ultimately lead you to begin your search for an agent. This will include understanding the role of a literary agent and what they do; researching agents; preparing the necessary materials such a query letter and a proposal; recognizing the role of author platform.

2020 Small Town Marketing

Marketing and platform building can be daunting. We often don’t know where to start. There are so many options and a multiple of people shouting to us “You need to do this” or “you should be doing that”. It’s like being lost in an unfamiliar big city. We have a destination, but don’t know where to turn next.  For some of us the big city is overwhelming. It’s crowded, and it’s too fast paced. We prefer a nice small town. It’s easier to get to know people, the pace is more relaxed, and it feels more like community.
Small Town Marketing will present simple ideas to help you in your efforts to market and promote your work and build your author platform along the way. We’ll talk about creating or tapping into a community of writers, creative people and readers.

Thursday

Marketing for Writers Who Don’t Like to Market

This class will look at marketing and promoting your book in a different light, starting with Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. We will define marketing simply as engaging with others. These are the questions that will be presented:

Why to engage? Who to engage? When to engage? Where to engage?

 

2020 Proposals that Pop

Your book proposal is often the first thing a prospective literary agent and editor will review as part of their decision-making process. Good proposals are noted and followed up on. Bad proposals are deleted and forgotten.

“Proposals that Pop” will give you valuable information on what exactly should be, and what should not be, included in your proposal. Some of the themes discussed will include: Basic Structure Guidelines, Compelling Cover Letters, and Knowing When to Stop.

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Writers’ please continue to pray with us that the COVID 19 situation will not cause us to cancel our 2020 MCWC conference scheduled for Sunday, July 12th to Friday, July 17th.
I hope to see you there!
Marsha, Director

To contact me for a brochure: marshahubler@outlook.com or register online at https://bit.ly/3avK1SA

 

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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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PLOT # 18

WRETCHED EXCESS

Mildred Pierce

The Lost Weekend

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

Picture compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_Eden

The holidays are over, and if you’re like me, you want to “get back in the groove of life” and face the new year head on. However, with sugar plum fairies possibly still dancing in your head, you might be struggling to get back into the writing mode. Maybe these tips about writing fiction will help.

If you want to tackle this difficult fiction subgenre, do your homework and study best sellers before you start. A “wretched excess” plot involves all kinds of drama and some difficult scenes. But there are some issues you need to address with much care as you write. It’s definitely a character-driven piece of work:

  1. Wretched excess is generally about the psychological decline of a character.
  2. Base the decline of your character on a character flaw.
  3. Present the decline of your character in three phases: how he/she is before events start to change him/her; how he/she is as he/she successively deteriorates; and what happens after events reach a crisis point, which forces him/her either to give in completely to his/her flaw (tragedy) or to recover from it.
  4. Develop your character so that his/her decline evokes sympathy. Don’t present him/her as a raving lunatic.
  5. Take particular care in the development of your character, because the plot depends on your ability to convince the audience that he/she is both real and worthy of their feelings for him/her.
  6. Avoid melodrama. Don’t try to force emotion beyond what the scene can carry.
  7. Be straightforward with information that allows the reader to understand your main character. Don’t hide anything that will keep your reader from being empathetic.
  8. Most writers want the audience to feel for the main character, so don’t make your character commit crimes out of proportion of our understanding of who and what he/she is. It’s hard to be sympathetic with a person who’s a rapist or a serial murderer.
  9. At the crisis point of your story, move your character either toward complete destruction or redemption. Don’t leave him/her swinging in the wind because your reader will definitely not be satisfied.
  10. Action in your plot should always relate to character. Things happen because your main character does (or does not) do certain things. The cause and effects of your plot should always relate either directly or indirectly to your main character.
  11. Don’t lose your character in his/her madness. Nothing beats personal experience when it comes to this plot. If you don’t understand the nature of the excess yourself (having experienced it), be careful about having your character do things that aren’t realistic for the circumstances.
  12. As I said before, do your homework, and fully understand the nature of the excess you want to write about.

Wow! That’s a head full of ideas and information, isn’t it? If you’re brave enough to tackle this “wretched excess,” God bless you as you work on your best seller!

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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PLOT # 17

DISCOVERY

Death of a Traveling Salesman

Ghosts

Oedipus Rex

(Painting compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus_Rex )

If you’re interested in writing fiction, take a good look at what it takes to write a best seller with the theme of “discovery.” But what are the elements involved in writing that masterpiece? Let’s take a look:

  1. Remember that the discovery plot is more about the character making the discovery than the discovery itself. This isn’t a search for the secrets of the lost tombs of some Incan king; it’s a search for understanding about human nature.
  2. Focus the story on the character, not on what the character does.
  3. Start your plot with an understanding of who the main character is before circumstances change and force the character into new situations.
  4. Don’t linger on your main character’s “former” life; integrate past with present and future. Place the character on the exciting edge of change. Start the action as late as possible, but also give the reader a strong impression of the main character’s personality as it was before events started to change her character.
  5. Make sure the catalyst that forces the change (from a state of equilibrium to disequilibrium) is significant and interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention. Don’t be trivial. Don’t dwell on insignificant detail.
  6. Move your main character into the crisis (the clash between the present and the past) as quickly as possible but maintain the tension of past and present as a fundamental part of your story’s tension.

So, there you have it…all the elements you need to write your best seller. And read, read, read those fiction works that have mastered the technique. You just might be the next author with a best-selling discovery fiction plot!

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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PLOT # 13

MATURATION

Flight (J. Steinbeck)

Nick Adams’ Stories (E. Hemingway)

Huckleberry Finn

Hansel and Gretel

What does it take to write a page-turning maturation fiction plot? Whether for adults or children, there are certain steps to take. Let’s see:

  1. Create a protagonist who is on the cusp of adulthood, whose goals are either confused or not yet clarified.
  2. Make sure the audience understands who the character is and how she feels and thinks that begins the process of change.
  3. Contrast the protagonist’s naive childhood against the reality of an unprotected life (adulthood).
  4. Focus your story on your protagonist’s moral and psychological growth.
  5. Once you’ve established your protagonist as he/she was before the change, create an incident that challenges her beliefs and her understanding of how the world works.
  6. Does your character reject or accept change? Perhaps both? Does he/she resist the lesson? How does he/she act?
  7. Show your protagonist undergoing the process of gradual change.
  8. Make sure your young protagonist is convincing; don’t give him/her adult values and perceptions until he/she is ready to portray them.
  9. Don’t have that protagonist accomplish adulthood all at once. Small lessons often represent major upheavals in the process of growing up.
  10. Decide at what psychological price this lesson comes, and establish how your protagonist copes with it.

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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TODAY’S WRITERS’ TIP

FICTION PLOT # 12 

TRANSFORMATION

 

After several months of blogging about the 2018 Montrose Christian Writers Conference held from July 22nd to the 27th, I’m now returning to blog posts about writing and how to help you become a better writer. Before I blogged about this past July’s conference, I had discussed eleven different plots (of 20 presented in the book, 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias). Below is plot 12, which presents the details concerning writing a plot that “transforms” characters.

PLOT # 12

TRANSFORMATION

The Red Badge of Courage

Pygmalion (My Fair Lady)

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Jekyll-mansfield.jpg 

 

Well-written transformation plots are intriguing because of the big change that takes place in at least one main character throughout the story. But what elements are essential to make that best-seller work? Let’s take a look:

  1. The plot of transformation should deal with the process of change as the protagonist journeys through one of the many stages of life.
  2. The plot should isolate a portion of the protagonist’s life that represents the period of change, moving from one significant character state to another.
  3. The story should concentrate on the nature of change and how it affects the protagonist’s experience from start to end.
  4. The first dramatic phase should relate the transforming incident that propels the antagonist into a crisis, which starts the process of change.
  5. The second dramatic phase generally should depict the effects of the transformation. Since this plot is about character, the story concentrates on the protagonist’s self-examination.
  6. The third dramatic phase should contain a clarifying incident, which represents the final stage of the transformation. The character understands the true nature of his experience and how it’s affected him. This is the point in the story at which true growth and understanding occur.
  7. Often the price of wisdom the character gains is a certain sadness.

 Go ahead, writer. Take a shot at a transformation plot. You just might transform yourself into a best-selling author!

All information from Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots. F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction.)

Happy writing!

Marsha

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2018 MCWC FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

July 22nd to 27th  

INTRODUCING KAREN WHITING

Karen Whiting will present a Major Morning Series entitled

MARKETING THAT FITS YOUR STYLE

Harness the power of the five key areas of marketing to your specific brand/book:

Social Media (FB, twitter, Pinterest, etc.)

Print (articles, freebies, promo materials)

Speaking (events, keynotes, retail stores, libraries, churches)

Media (radio, TV, internet, newspapers)

Expertise (get quoted)

 

Karen will also present three afternoon workshops:

Writing for Today’s Tweens

Writing to engage kids and to motivate them to apply Biblical principles in life, we’ll look at countering the top reasons older teens and young adults leave the church. We’ll review language that interests youth and how to be authentic in writing for kids without writing “down” to them.

Writing Devotionals for All Ages

Karen has written devotional books for preschoolers, women, girls, families, history buffs, and more. Learn about basics in devotional writing and markets for selling single devotionals. Learn how to apply to write devotionals for outsourced products or pitch a book of devotions

Selling to Children’s Periodicals

There are many opportunities for writers, especially aspiring writers in magazines, Sunday school take-homes and denominational newspapers. Learn how to target your writing for the audience.                                                                                            

WHO IS KAREN WHITING?

 Karen Whiting (www.karenwhiting.com) is an international speaker, former television host, and award-winning author of eighteen books. She has written more than six hundred articles for more than sixty publications. Currently. Karen writes for Leading Hearts Magazine and Molly Green Magazine. She writes for women, families, children, and the military. Best sellers include God’s Girls and My Princess Devotions.

Her Awards:

Christian Retailing Best 2014, children’s nonfiction

AWSA Nonfiction Book of the Year

Awards: Military Writer Society of America Gold Medal, faith category

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ALSO INTRODUCING BEST-SELLING AUTHOR JEANETTE WINDLE

 Jeanette will present a Major Morning Series entitled

SO, YOU WANT TO WRITE?

How do I get started as a writer? Find material or choose a topic? Create a scene or compelling character? What is the meaning of such cryptic terms as “show, don’t tell”, “passive vs. action”, flashback, deep POV, head-hopping? What are the formatting and editing guidelines an editor will expect? How and where do I actually SELL my writing? These are some of the mysteries veteran author, journalist, editor, and writing coach Jeanette Windle will be clarifying in this continuing track designed for the beginning writer.

This class is hands-on and interactive so bring pen-and-paper or laptop.

 

Jeanette will also present an afternoon workshop on Monday:

A Story to Tell—Your Own or Another’s: Writing the Memoir/Collaborative Title

Non-fiction biography is the bread-and-butter of freelance writing. Whether writing your own memoir or someone else’s life story, this workshop will walk you through the practicalities of breaking down, organizing, and weaving into story form a compelling life narrative. Not writing a full book? Principles apply as well to the personal experience short story/article.

On Tuesday afternoon Jeanette will coordinate a Freebie Peer Critique Group for writers working on

nonfiction: theological/memoir/Christian living

WHO IS JEANETTE WINDLE?

Award-winning novelist, journalist, editor, & collaborative writer Jeanette Windle has lived in six countries and traveled in almost 40. Those experiences have birthed 21 fiction and non-fiction titles, including Forgiven: The Amish Schoolhouse Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace (2016 ECPA Christian Book Award/Christian Retailing Best Awards.

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Writers, it’s not too late to register! Go to: http://www.montrosebible.org for more information and the registration form! I’d love to see you next week!

 

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Today’s Writers’ Tip

Plot Number 11: The Metamorphosis Fiction Plot

     

(Photos compliments of Wikipedia)

We’ve all enjoyed stories that have a powerful transformation take place with one of the characters. But writing a metamorphosis fiction plot takes quite a bit of pre-planning and character development. This subgenre is different from your “ordinary” transformation of the main character in an “ordinary” novel at the climax and resolution because…. Well, let’s look at the characteristics of writing an excellent unique story:

The Metamorphosis Plot

Wolfman

Dracula

Beauty and the Beast

  1. The metamorphosis usually results from a curse.
  2. The cure for the curse is often love.
  3. The forms of love include love of parent for a child, a woman for a man (or vice versa), people for each other, or man for the love of God.
  4. The metamorph is usually carried out by the antagonist (the “bad guy”) if the curse can be reversed by the antagonist performing certain acts, and the protagonist can’t hurry or explain the events.
  5. In the first dramatic phase, the metamorph usually can’t explain the reasons for his curse.
  6. The story should begin at the point prior to the resolution of the curse (release).
  7. The bad guy should act as the catalyst that propels the protagonist toward release.
  8. The antagonist often starts out as the intended victim but finishes as the “chosen one.”
  9. The second dramatic phase should concentrate on the nature of evolving relationships between the antagonist and the metamorph.
  10. The characters generally move toward each other emotionally.
  11. In the third dramatic phase, the terms of release should be fulfilled and your protagonist should be freed from the curse. The metamorph might either revert to his original state or die.
  12. The reader should discover the reasons for the curse and its root causes.

Have you got your metamorphic wheels turning? If you’ve wanted to try this subgenre, now you have the ammunition to do so. Have fun!

Next time we’ll look at fiction plot number 12: Transformation

 All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!)

 

Happy writing!

Marsha

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Today’s Writers’ Tips

THE RIDDLE or MYSTERY Fiction Plot

PLOT # 7

Continuing our study of fiction plots, we’ll look at plot number 7 today: riddle or mystery. If you’re a mystery writer, and a successful published one, I’m sure you have mastered the “tricks of the trade.” Writing a riddle or mystery has certain characteristics different from “regular” writing. So, let’s have a look at the important points needed in a good mystery:

THE RIDDLE OR MYSTERY

The Maltese Falcon

The Lady or the Tiger

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Murder, She Wrote

  1. The core of your riddle should be in clever writing: hide that which is in plain sight.
  2. The tension of your riddle should come from the conflict between what happens as opposed to what seems to have happened.
  3. The riddle challenges the reader to solve it before the protagonist does. (And readers love this.)
  4. The answer to your riddle should always be in plain view without being obvious. (And that’s a “trick.”)
  5. The first dramatic phase should consist of the generalities of the riddle (persons, places, events).
  6. The second dramatic phase should consist of the specifics of the riddle (how persons, places, and events relate to each other in detail).
  7. The third dramatic phase should consist of the riddle’s solution, explaining the motives of the antagonist(s), and the real sequence of events (as opposed to what seemed to have happened).
  8. Write to a specific audience, i.e. age, sex, etc.
  9. Choose between an open-ended and a close-ended structure. (Open-ended riddles have no clear answer; close-ended ones do.)

So, there you have it. If you’ve never tackled a mystery, maybe now you’ll be brave enough to try one. And the mystery to solve is CAN YOU DO IT?

Next time, we’ll look at plot # 8: RIVALRY

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!”)

Happy writing!

Marsha

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Dallis believes the phantom stallion really does exist, no matter how much her friends make fun of her.

But what happens when she and Snow have a face-to-face encounter?

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