The Noble Pen for Oct 30, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 30th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Amazon has a new deal with Simon & Schuster to sell both print and e-books, with S&S retaining significant control over pricing.  Their feud with Hachette continues.

–//–

We are rapidly approaching November, which is National Novel Writing Month.  People are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.  The NaNoWriMo organization provides guidance and moral support, as explained in their FAQ.

Victories

Dylan finished a short story, and also tripled the content of his wiki for Sand and Blood and the Fedran world, by adding backstory and other details.

Jed’s novel Castalia was accepted for publication by Albin Lake.

Ciuin received A’s for two class essays.

Education

At the last meeting we had some discussion of women character names.  Mark offers this link to remind us of several that have changed up and down in popularity.  Here’s some advice on picking character names and this one discusses pitfalls.  A longer discussion contains some tips.

Finally, if you’re stuck try this character name generator that considers gender, ethnicity, and decade of birth.

–//–

Author Brenda Novak lists her 10 key guidelines for creating a good story.  Starting in the right place is high on the list.  To catch the reader’s interest it should introduce excitement, mystery, or a challenge right away, with the backstory carefully slipped in as needed.  Her other points are worth studying, too.  Nancy Kress elaborates on the advice about starting the story.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. ~Zig Ziglar
Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~E. L. Doctorow
Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. ~Louis L’Amour

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 30
Tyree
Dylan
Ciuin

Nov 6
Victor
Cassie
Tyree (?)

Nov 13
Dylan (?)
Eugenia (?)
Open slot

Nov 20
Open slots

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Dec 4
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 23, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 23rd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The finalists for the National Book Awards in fiction were announced.

Victories

Tyree added 8k words to Bombay Sapphire II this week.  He attended a book fair with many genres where he was one of two selling SF/Fantasy/Horror and had good sales.

Tyree and Dylan’s stories are now available in the Taurin Tales anthology, which sold well at the book fair.

Dylan submitted his story to Blackguards.  His Sand and Blood was  a top seller at the fair.

Cassie made more progress on Dreams in Red including a new chapter.

Nick sent his revised western story to be edited.

Education

Can you use a real person in your fiction?  Can you base a fictional story on a real person who is not named but could perhaps be identified?

Generally one should err on the side of caution to avoid possible claims of defamation or invasion of privacy by the person or their descendants.  The more famous the person and the greater the span of time after their life, the more leeway you will have.

If the person’s identity and details are not as important as their membership in a group, it is easy to make up a character combining what you know about that person and others in the group.

This excellent article says a finding of libel is rare but you need to exercise some caution.  Even winning a lawsuit is still expensive.  They recommend either keeping true to the proven facts, especially for any negative aspect of the character, or else disguising the character so they are hard to associate with the real person.  The trouble is in the middle ground.

Here’s one take on it and another view.  Here’s a discussion of libel law as it applies to fiction.  Real Person Fiction, alias fan fiction, is discussed on Wikipedia.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 23
Cassie
Eugenia
Tyree

Oct 30
Tyree (?)
Dylan(?)
Ciuin

Nov 6
Victor
Open slots

Nov 13
Open slots

Nov 20
Open slots

Nov 27
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 16, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 16th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature was recently awarded to  French writer Patrick Modiano for work focused on the Nazi WW II occupation of his country and the Holocaust.  One judge made news by criticizing US literature.

Victories

Cassie rewrote nine chapters of Dreams in Red, adding 300 to 600 words per chapter and one of them entirely new.

Tyree did personal research on collapsing from dehydration and exhaustion.  He recovered and will use the experience in a story.

Ciuin got a B+ on a class essay and 100% on another.

Education

Present participles are words like walking, sitting, or looking that end in -ing.  They are a useful, but sometimes overused, part of speech. This particularly sensitive blogger often finds them annoying when used frequently to combine actions into one sentence.

They can be misused.  When a participle phrase is added to a sentence to link two actions, they imply simultaneity that the writer sometimes did not intend.  “Walking up the stairs, he opened the door” is contradictory because he could not do both at once.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 16
Tyree
Dylan
Aimee

Oct 23
Cassie
Eugenia
Tyree

Oct 30
Tyree (?)
Dylan(?)
Ciuin

Nov 6
Open slots

Nov 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for October 9, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

October 9th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The American Library Association recently celebrated Banned Books Week.  They have several lists.  Some of them are perhaps unsuited to the age group in elementary schools, but it is a slippery slope.  A commentator reminds us to be aware of the power of books.

Victories

Dylan found two beta readers for Sand and Ash, who both said it’s better than Sand and Blood.

Cassie worked every day this week on revisions to Dreams in Red and added 500 new words to a chapter.

Barbara and Rachel’s names appear on the cover of Disturbed Digest as the editors.

Riley came back after a long absence, fully prepared with critiques, and Victor found the group.

Education

How do you create suspense and tension to keep the reader absorbed in your fiction? Here are five tips.  Stretching out the scene may increase suspense, if it is crafted so that the reader feels what the character does, and the action doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Here is another list of suggestions for suspense, and a more detailed article (part 1) and (part 2).

“Suspense is achieved by information control.  What   you know.  What the reader knows.  What the characters know.  You balance that properly, and you can really get the reader wound up.” ~Alfred Hitchcock

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 9
Ciuin
Eugenia
Dylan

Oct 16
Tyree
Dylan
Aimee

Oct 23
Cassie
Eugenia
Tyree

Oct 30
Open slots

Nov 6
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

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.

—//–

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