The Noble Pen for October 2, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 2nd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Eugenia found the group.  She has a finished novel she wants to submit for critique.

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QuarterReads , to launch in October, will offer a new market for writers to sell their short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.   Subscribers can browse the beginning of each piece, and pay $0.25 to read all of it, of which the author gets $0.22, plus tips if the reader is impressed enough to be generous.

Victories

Dylan’s Sand and Blood is being read and considered for publication by a medium size press, which would improve distribution for him.  He finished his submission for Blackguards.

Tyree’s earlier novel The Dog at the Foot of the Bed will be reprinted by that same press, and they are interested in a collection of his short stories.  Bombay Sapphire is getting popular; the publisher and readers want more.

Cassie wrote 3500 words this week.

Ciuin’s first paper of the school term got a 100% grade.

Education

Character development is very important to get readers involved in your story.  Tom Pawlik’s article lists nine aspects of character development.  How the character talks and thinks, their background, appearance, goals, and defects all shape them and affect how the reader relates to them and cares about them.  Here are more tips.  This information should be shown gradually and not as a summary that holds up the action.  The character will probably change during the narrative, which is called the character arc.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 2
Dylan
Ciuin
Tyree

Oct 9
Ciuin
Eugenia
Dylan

Oct 16
Tyree
Dylan?
Aimee

Oct 23
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 25, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

September 25th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The ICON sci-fi convention will be held at the Cedar Rapids Marriott on Oct 31st through Nov 2nd. Dylan is on 2 panels.

Victories

Dylan got a preorder for Sand and Ash.  He has copy edits for Sand and Blood merged and updated.

Cassie had a volunteer for a beta reader.

Education

Here are some thoughts from famous writers. Stephen King has more, as do Elmore Leonard and George Orwell.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 25
Tyree
Ciuin
Cassie

Oct 2
Dylan
Ciuin
Tyree

Oct 9
Ciuin?
Open slots

Oct 9
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 18, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

September 18th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The Taurin Tales anthology is available for pre-order.  It contains work by Tyree and Dylan.

–//–

Submissions are being taken until October 11 for 3-6k word stories for a new publication with a theme of “grimdark, sword & sorcery, alternate history, etc. Must include either an assassin, mercenary, or rogue (i.e., thief, cutthroat, brigand, highwayman, etc.).”  It pays.

Victories

Dylan finished writing the 3rd novel in his series, titled Sand and Bone, with a 54,000 word push in 10 days.  He received the copy edit results on Sand and Blood.

Nick performed a 30-page “exorcism” edit on his western.

Tyree wrote a 6700 word story for the steampunk publisher, submitted it, and had it accepted.

Cassie recovered from a crashed flash drive, but it was painful as it required combing through old submissions, re-editing them, and re-writing the most recent chapter from scratch.  You can never have too many backups.

Education

Adverbs have a bad reputation because there is often (but not always) a more effective way to word the thought.   A majority of adverbs end in -ly,  but not all, nor are all such words adverbs.  “Very” is an adverb that rarely adds anything to a sentence.

Instead of using an adverb, see if there is a clearer or more forceful way to say the same thing.   Be sure you have the best nouns, verbs, and adjectives you can find before resorting to adverbs. “She ran quickly” is not as effective as “she sprinted.”  Be sure any adverb you use adds something that isn’t obvious already (hey, no -ly).  “She sprinted quickly” is annoyingly redundant (hmm).

Sometimes, after those considerations, they are the right word to use.  She entered silently.   “I’ll help you,” the teacher said gently.  He had many headaches recently.

A summary sheet was passed out at a meeting last year.
Basic explanation of adjectives and adverbs
A list of 3732 adverbs (just in case you didn’t think they were numerous)
Use Carefully
What’s so Bad about Adverbs?

The road to Hell is paved with adverbs. ~Stephen King

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 18
Dylan
Cassie
Aimee

Sept 25
Tyree
Ciuin
Cassie

Oct 2
Dylan
Ciuin
Tyree

Oct 9
Ciuin?
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 11, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

September 11th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

Victories

Dylan’s Sand and Blood lasted 31 minutes for the Immerse or Die reviewer who rarely gets to his 40-minute reading goal.  Everything about it was praised except the minor editing issues that accumulated to annoy this very picky reviewer.

Barbara finished her review of Sand and Blood and posted it to several web sites.  It will also be in Tyre”s magazines.  She and Matt started reworking their joint novel.

Cassie has been writing every day of her week off, and got a lot of editing, research, and writing done.

Tyree has 2,000 words on his 3rd superhero story.

Ciuin worked hard on an essay for a class and was disappointed that everyone got back identical comments regardless of what they turned in.

Education

Sometimes you may try to write and nothing happens.  Writer’s block.  Here are some tips for getting around it.  The key is to get around it, not through it.  Don’t just stare at the page or re-write the same sentence hoping it will get better.  Do something different, whether it is method, location, subject, or incentive.  Also, don’t demand that your output be perfect.  Just write something and know you can improve it later.  Charlie Jane Anders discusses several types of block and how to deal with them in an article that also has some cool pictures.

It’s hard to find words to describe writer’s block. ~unknown

Writer’s block – when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you. ~unknown

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. ~Margaret Atwood

–//–

A young man professed his desire become a great writer.  When asked to define “great” he said, “I want to write words the whole world will read, that people will react to on a truly emotional level, that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!” He now works for Microsoft, writing error messages.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 11
Tyree
Dylan
Ciuin

Sept 18
Dylan
Cassie
Aimee

Sept 25
Tyree
Open slots

Oct 2
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 4, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

September 4th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Novellas by Mrs. Tolstoy will be published, which reflect her side of a turbulent marriage.

—//–

Authors from other countries are also protesting Amazon’s tactics.

Victories

Dylan wrote 30,000 words this week.

Tyree wrote more on Bombay Sapphire II and Wolf, and started a pulp story with a new superhero.

Ciuin used a backup file after a messed-up edit.  Backups work!  Her human rights class professor will let her write all papers on gypsy issues.

Education

How long should a story be?  How long is a piece of string? They should be long enough to do the job without a lot of excess.  Always review your story to see if it contains padding that does not move the story along.  However, a long manuscript may not be publishable regardless of whether it is the right length for the story it tells.  If your writing is tight and still too long, you may have to modify the events of the story to fit a publishable range.

The Nebula Awards define lengths for short story, novelette, novella, and novel.  Definitions vary.  Other formats include drabble, usually defined as a story of exactly 100 words, and flash fiction, which is variously defined as less than 300 or 1000 words.

The average book sold through Amazon has 64,500 words.  Chuck Sambuchino offers a detailed guide that recommends 80-100 k words for most novels and memoirs, with sci-fi running slightly longer.  Westerns and books for younger readers tend to be shorter.  Here’s another guide , and a third, that mostly agree, and define lengths for other formats.  Wikipedia goes into the details of counting words, which you can digest for details after getting your story into the right length range for your market.

One always tends to overpraise a long book, [just] because one has got through it. ~E. M. Forster

You know what writers say about their long books: If I had another year, the book would be half as long. ~David Remnick

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 4
Tyree
Ciuin
Aimee

Sept 11
Tyree
Dylan
Ciuin

Sept 18
Dylan
Open slots

Sept 25
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for August 28, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 28th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A blog discusses whether the monthly unlimited e-book subscription services are worth it.

Victories

Dylan got a review of one of his novels from someone he didn’t know.  Previous reviews have all been family and friends.  He invented a font for the language of his novels.

Cassie started the 3rd draft revisions of Dreams in Red, and now has 20 k words on Blue Moon Baby.

Ciuin received an offer from a well-known artist to do the cover of Petty Theft.

Education

A good article lists seven essential elements of a good novel.  First among those is readability.  Another article lists five elements, and mentions that dialog must be easy to read.  This blog lists sixteen, and clarity is first.

Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating. ~Carl von Clausewitz
For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity. ~Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Upcoming Schedule

August 28
Tyree
Ciuin (double slot)

Sept 4
Tyree
Ciuin
Aimee

Sept 11
Open slots

Sept 18
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for August 21, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 21st, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Amazon is aiming to become more dominant in college book sales, with a new partnership that lets students order on line and pick up locally.

–//–

An author of Dystopian young-adult books talks about the genre and says although the books and films have been popular recently, she thinks their run is ending.

Victories

Tyree submitted and sold another story to the anthology that is in preparation.

Nick has re-edited eight of eleven chapters of his western.  He sent a report on a long train-spotting trip.

Dylan’s giveaway of Sand and Blood on Goodreads resulted in people in two states and Australia receiving copies.   Another 500 added it to their “to read” file so a few may actually buy it.  He is hoping for some reviews to be posted.

Education

While many authors do fine with an ordinary word processing program, others find help in writer’s software with more power, such as discussed here.  A summary compares several writing software programs.  Another review (as of 2012) includes some not in the other list.  Neither list rates free programs, of which there are many.   A few people write their own program.

These programs, costing $30 to $130 (list price), integrate the functions of outlining or storyboarding, note taking, character sheets, and writing to a much greater degree than word processors like MS Word and WordPerfect.  Some go beyond spelling and thesaurus to offer a full dictionary and even name lists from which to choose characters.  They still do not write the story for you, nor give a reader’s critique.

Come to think of it, there are already a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and the Internet is nothing like Shakespeare.  ~(modified from) Blair Houghton

Upcoming Schedule

August 21
Aimee
Ciuin
Cassie

August 28
Tyree
Ciuin (double slot)

Sept 4
Tyree
Ciuin (?)
Open slot

Sept 11
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 14, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 14th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Alban Lake Publishing has a Drabble contest running until the end of August.  Submit a story of exactly 100 words plus title that follows the current theme.

–//–

A court found the Arthur Conan Doyle estate had no basis for trying to require a license fee for an anthology of works about him, and re-confirmed that the Sherlock Holmes character is in the public domain.

However, Mickey Mouse is still protected by copyright for at least a few more years and by trademark for as long as Disney wants.

Victories

Dylan finished a commission piece and it was accepted and paid for.  He has a Goodreads raffle offering copies of Sand and Blood, trying to gain reviews for it, and at this writing 244 people have entered a request.

Ciuin implemented a plan for backups.

Cassie overhauled a chapter of Blue Moon Baby and finished it.

Education

How do you end your story?  It’s important to get it right.  As I’ve said in prior articles, Hemingway wrote 39 endings to Farewell to Arms before picking one.

This article has some suggestions for a satisfying ending.  The struggle that has provided tension should be resolved, although it doesn’t always have to be a happy ending.

The elements of the climax and ending should have been foreshadowed so the reader does not cry “Deus ex Machina!”, yet that information should not give away the ending.   Ideally the reader will not expect the ending but will find it to be completely natural when looking back at the events leading up to it.

There may need to be a post-climax dénouement, such as where the detective explains how she put the evidence together or the newlyweds drive off into the sunset, but that should generally be short and to the point, and possibly tying back to the opening scene.  After the tension is gone the reader will become impatient with a long explanation.

Nobody reads a (novel) to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  ~ Mickey Spillane

It ain’t over until it’s over. ~Yogi Berra

Upcoming Schedule

August 14
Ciuin (double)
Tyree

August 21
Aimee
Ciuin
Cassie

August 28
Tyree
Ciuin
Open slot

Sept 4
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 7, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 7th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Welcome to Anthony who found the group, and Manuel who came back after several years.

Victories

Dylan submitted Sand and Blood to a super-critical reviewer, who reports how many minutes it took him to find three major things wrong with a story.   At Dylan’s work a high manager mentioned his book to a meeting of company VIPs.

Tyree has Bombay Sapphire 2 about 10% done, with 3,000 words added this week, in addition to his work on Wolf.

Barbara and Matt further developed a character in their novel.

Education

Word repetition is a too-common, although not major, flaw in most people’s first drafts.  A little attention and substitutions can quickly make improvements.  This article offers some examples of rephrasing, as does this one.  

A search will find many tools to point out repetition, sucy as this one.

Do not fall into the trap of simply choosing the next word in a thesaurus, because synonyms all have nuances and you want the right shade of meaning.

If you re-read your work, you can find on re-reading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing. ~William Safire

Upcoming Schedule

August 7
Ciuin
Tyree
Laura

August 14
Ciuin (could take double)
Tyree (would cede)
Open slots

August 21
Aimee
Ciuin
Open slots

August 28
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 31, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 31st, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Amazon reported a big loss for the recent quarter.  They have been involved with price wars and disputes with other companies.

Victories

Ciuin and her grandsons are reading the same books and she will get book reports.

Cassie has done plotting and research for another novella/novel.

Tyree started Bombay Sapphire II and did research on a 1962 war to use in the story.

Education

Some authors just sit down and write.  They may think too much planning will limit their creativity.  This article discusses how to work without an outline. Generally the writers who do the least planning also do the most revision.

Others carefully outline.  Many use a crude outline or just a list of major events and character motivations.   One big advantage to some sort of outline is that it can give your story structure, so it doesn’t read like it “just grew.”  Another advantage may be found in consistency of the timeline.  Sometimes drawing  parallel timelines for the characters and the MacGuffin helps avoid anachronisms.

Here’s an article about approaches to outlining a novel, and another that discusses both chapter-by-chapter and character-based outlines.  You can write the synopsis first, and essentially it is a brief outline.   You may want to use these eight suggestions to outline your plot.

Upcoming Schedule

July 31st
Ciuin
Cassie
Tyree

August 7
Ciuin
Tyree (?)
Laura

August 14
Ciuin
Open slots

August 21
Aimee
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill