Category Archives: Newsletters

This is the weekly newsletters for the Noble Pen Writer’s Group.

The Noble Pen for June 22, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 22nd, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Sometimes critique can be hard to take.  This essay discusses critics in politics and art.

Victories

Dylan finished and published Sand and Bone.  He is serializing Second Hand Dresses.  He got a story commission.

Education

Writers use sentences as building blocks for a story.  Good sentence construction helps the story flow for a reader.   With experience, good sentence structure can become intuitive to a writer, but untrained intuition sometimes goes astray.  This excellent explanation shows how sentences break down into their parts.

Another site gives many examples.  Here’s another tutorial on breaking down a sentence to see its structure.  It introduces diagramming as a useful tool.

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 22
Laura
Aime
Dylan

Jun 29
Uriah
Open slots

July 6
Nick
Open slots

July 13
Open slots

July 20
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 15, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Jun 15th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Alan Alda discusses the need to be clear and his book about failures to communicate.

Victories

Randy’s book now has three reviews, all five-star .  It was selected for a local book club to read and he will discuss it at their meeting.

Shannon was asked to write a short story for an anthology.

Education

The site Creative Writing Forums is a place for writers to discuss techniques, problems, etc. and do critiques of short segments of writing.  It seems fairly civilized.  Some participation and two weeks of membership are required before you can post anything to receive critique.

If you’re looking for more elbows to rub against, want to see how others do critique,  or want to discuss writing with a wide group, give it or other forums a try.  It is a good place to practice giving critiques anonymously and to compare your observations to others’.

Recognize that anything you post to a forum with unrestricted membership has been published (even if it is later deleted), so restrict your submissions to excerpts or practice pieces that you will never try to sell.

If you have other sites to recommend, let us know.

–//–

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.  ~Scott Adams

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 15
Aime
Dylan
Grammar exercise

Jun 22
Laura
Open slots

Jun 29
Uriah
Open slots

July 6
Nick
Open slots

July 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 8, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Jun 8th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The Economist magazine looks at the relationship between the “Doomsday Clock” (Source) (Wikipedia) and the amount of apocalyptic fiction written.

Victories

Dylan rewrote six chapters of Flight and edited others.  He read six books recently and wrote GoodReads reviews of them.

Nick edited Earth Ends and finished a chapter and more on a sequel.  He wrote a train report.

Education

Georgina Roy has created a guide to the process of writing a novel.  Campbell and Cook discuss planning to make your novel marketable.  Randy Ingermanson discusses his Snowflake Method of building a story.

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 8
Uriah
Dakota
Nick

Jun 15
Aime
Open slots

Jun 22
Open slots

Jun 29
Open slots

July 6
Nick
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Jun 1, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Jun 1st, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

NPR welcomes your input to a reader poll about comics and graphic novels.

Victories

Randy had a very successful book release party and sold 56 books.  He has two Amazon reviews, both five-star.  He was invited to participate in an author panel in the fall.

Dylan met his writing quota for Patreon subscribers.  He is nearly finished serializing S&Bone.  He finished a commission with less overage of words than usual.

Education

We often see the beginning of this quote as symbolic of bad style.  For more discussion of the line, see the Wikipedia entry.  The author may not deserve the reputation, as he was prolific and popular in his day.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

An annual contest for bad writing examples has a June 30 deadline, and you too could enter.  Check out some of the prior contest winners.  Some seem more intentionally amusing than just bad.

The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible. ~Mark Twain

People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs

He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license. ~Milton Berle

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 1
Nick
Dylan
Aime

Jun 8
Uriah
Dakota
Open slot

Jun 15
Open slots

Jun 22
Open slots

Jun 29
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for May 25, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 25th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Don’t forget Randy’s book release party on Wednesday May 24.

Victories

No wins, no losses, some rainouts.

Education

Author Jeffrey A. Carver offers a set of articles that make a complete course in writing.  It’s science fiction oriented but most of the lessons apply to other genres.  He spends more words on the art of creating human characters than on creating aliens.

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. ~Ernest Hemingway

Upcoming Schedule

May 25
Randy
Laura
Dakota

Jun 1
Nick
Uriah
Aime

Jun 8
Open slots

Jun 15
Open slots

Jun 22
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for May 18, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 18th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Being a fiction writer is so glamorous that even ex-presidents want to get in on the act.

Victories

Nick wrote a five-page train report.

Randy put out publicity for his book and release party.

Dakota bought a reference/tutorial book for authors.

Education

This week we have a list of people’s lists.
-Zachary Petit lists 15 things a writer should never do in their approach to writing.
-“Chuck the Vulgar” Wendig has 25 things to stop doing.
-These guys list 40 to avoid (despite their title).

Okay, enough negatives.
-Karen Ball has 10 things you SHOULD do to help your body and mind.
-Chuck has 25 things you should do as a writer.
-Mike Sager has twenty-five tips to make you a better writer. Most of his list applies to fiction as well as non-fiction.

Upcoming Schedule

May 18
Aime
Dakota
Bill

May 25
Randy
Open slots

Jun 1
Nick
Open slots

Jun 8
Open slots

Jun 15
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for May 11, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 11th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An author may not like all of the reviews, but should never resort to threats of black magic against the reviewer.   In the Goodreads thread, the author provided a reviewer a free copy in exchange for a review.  It took a while for the review to get posted, which caused some friction, and then the review was quite negative.  The author responded that he had contacted someone to cast bad magic on the reviewer if he did not retract the review.

Victories

Ciuin got an A on a school paper.

Clay submitted for his first review.

Education

The ending of a story is the payoff, and the reader wants the payoff to be worth having read it all.  Larry Brooks talks about structuring the story for a killer ending.  Vicki Hinze discusses how to wrap it up.  Here’s Laura Miller’s take on what makes a great ending.  Here’s list of nine tips for an effective ending (hit escape to bypass the ad).

It’s important to get it right.  Hemingway wrote 39 endings to Farewell to Arms before deciding he had it right.

Nobody reads a (novel) to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it’s a let down, they won’t buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.. The last page sells your next book. ~ Mickey Spillane

Upcoming Schedule

May 11
Dakota
Aime
Nick

May 18
Open slots

May 25
Open slots

Jun 1
Open slots

Jun 8
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for May 4, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 4th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Author Robert M. Pirsig died recently at age 88.  He is known for his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  That book was rejected by 121 publishers before one accepted it and it became a best seller, a fact that might give aspiring authors some hope.

Victories

Randy’s book Sins of Intent is on presale at Amazon and he received the first shipment of print books.  His author web site is live.

Dylan has the proof copy of Sand and Bone, which completes the Rutejìmo series.

Education

Backstory can be problematic for authors.  The reader may need to know some facts about the characters and situations but will probably get bored if you start with the story of their lives.  It is usually better to start where the significant conflict, action, and tension begin.  That leaves the problem of getting the backstory facts into the narrative, but interrupting the flow for pages of history is also a way to lose readers.

Karen Dionne discusses how she approaches backstory, trying to time it and achieve a balance between flow and needed information.  Eleanor Henderson thinks it is crucial to have sufficient backstory, but agrees that it is important to present it carefully.  C.G. Blake considers how much backstory is too much and gives an example of how a little dialog can do as much as paragraphs of backstory.

–//–

Look at Austen. In her novels, you get a dance, followed by an encounter, followed by a letter, then a period of solitude. No flashbacks and no backstory. Let’s have no more back story! ~Colm Toibin

Upcoming Schedule

May 4
Nick
Clay
Ian

May 11
Dakota
Open slots

May 18
Open slots

May 25
Open slots

Jun 1
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Apr 27, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

April 27th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Here’s an article on how the dictionary evolves.

Victories

Randy has three sections done for his author web site.

Clay bought a printer to use for his writing.

Dakota has the final cover for her book that will release in June.

Education

Successful authors sometimes give advice.  Brain Pickings has collected this list from David Ogilvy, one from playwright Henry Miller, and several other authors.

–//–

Writers are generally advised to avoid semicolons outside of academic work.  You can always get along without them.  Here’s an explanation of how they might be correctly used.  This forum discussion considers when a semicolon might be appropriate and where famous authors have used them.

Upcoming Schedule

Apr 27
Dakota
Randy
Exercise led by Riley (carried over)

May 4
Nick
Clay
Open slot

May 11
Open slots

May 18
Open slots

May 25
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Apr 20, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

April 20th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The Pulitzer prizes for 2017 have been announced.

Victories

Randy’s novel proof arrived and it looks good.

Dylan has Sand and Bone typeset and ready to publish.

Riley’s publisher liked his short story.

Dakota wrote every day this past week.

Ciuin was asked to speak to school kids to encourage writing.

Education

Action and fight scenes are an important part of many stories.  There needs to be more to the story than the action, of course, with motivations, personalities, emotional conflict, interpersonal relations, and change in the characters often making important contributions to the story.  Linda Adams discusses some of the considerations.

But when the action goes down, how do you set it up and describe it?  Action usually is carried best by short sentences to imply a fast pace. This is not the time to give setting or character background.  Simple sensory detail without over-describing, no passive voice, few adverbs, and selected action verbs will convey the excitement.  Robert Wood tells how he approaches action scenes.

Make the battle(s) important to the plot, with high stakes, and not just the script of a video game with one unrelated fight after another.   Can you make the hero’s fate in doubt or does the reader know he will emerge unscathed?    Fonda Lee emphasizes that the fight scene must serve a plot purpose.

Upcoming Schedule

Apr 20
Uriah (prior submission plus more)
Riley
Exercise led by Riley

Apr 27
Open slots

May 4
Nick
Dakota
Open slot

May 11
Open slots

May 18
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill