"Seriously?" Marsha Hubler peered over her glasses at me. I felt like a third grader. As her blue eyes stared at me, I gulped. She handed my manuscript back to me.
Maybe signing up for tutoring my first year at St. David's Christian Writer's Conference wasn't a good idea. When it came to writing, I didn't really know what I was doing. Family and friends said I should write my stories down, but when they read what I'd written, their eyes glazed over.
"Okay," she said, "Your first problem is that your book starts with the hero sitting at a table telling his story. That's a classic beginner's mistake. First, we will write a one-page synopsis of your story." So we wrote down everything that happened in the book.
"Go back; rewrite this synopsis," Marsha ordered. "I forbid you to use the verbs: am, is, are, was, were, be, been. Those verbs belong in dialogue and nonfiction, but not in fiction. When you use them, you are telling the story and not showing it." Scrutinizing every sentence I met became a game to change my verbs from passive to active voice. I struggled, but we persevered. When Marsha saw me take her advice to heart, she helped me cram action into my writing.
"Take your synopsis and break the action into chapters. Then write each chapter from the movie playing in your head. Use the tools I've taught you," she urged.
Marsha Hubler knows her craft, because she authored the Keystone Stables Series for young readers who love horses. She lifted my writing to a new plane. When I edit and toss out my weak verbiage, I thank God for her telling me the truth.
I return to St. David's every year because I learn so much. I've found others there like me who want to hone their writing skills. We tell the truth to each other about what we write at St. David's. It's the only way to grow.
Forever a Fan of St. David's Christian Writer's Conference