The Noble Pen for July 27, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 27th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Thirty area authors, including some from Noble Pen, will participate in a book signing at Lindale Mall on Saturday August 5.

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Back in April, reports circulated that a time capsule had been found, possibly placed by science fiction pioneer Jules Verne. (Although the term time capsule was not in use in his day.)  A search for more recent news turns up little, so it seems likely it was not as hoped. If you hear of any news, let us know.

Victories

Dakota participated in a book signing and sold 30 books.  The event raised $8k in admissions for a charity.

Shannon finished the first draft of a story.

Dylan has written Second Hand Dresses up to “the difficult middle”.

Ciuin wrote and submitted part of a new story.

Aime wrote a speech.

Education

Interesting sentences are building blocks of readable stories.  Gary Lutz, after some personal background, discusses what makes interesting sentences.  He finds a lot of depth in simple words.   An old article discusses great sentences.   Some editors have selected what they think are the 10 best sentences in literature, and tell you why.

We’ve seen recommendations for a book called It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences.  It uses humorous-by-exaggeration examples to make you more aware of subtle problems you might be having in your sentences.

Upcoming Schedule

July 27
Dakota
Randy
Ciuin

August 3
Nick
Aime
Laura

August 10
Randy
Shannon
Ciuin

August 17
Open slots

August 24
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Jul 20, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 20th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A study finds that people who read are nicer folks than those who watch a lot of TV.  They don’t prove whether that’s a cause or effect.

Victories

Randy gave a copy of his book to a friend, whose father read it, bought four copies and gave them to his friends.  Randy thinks he’s sold 100 to 125 copies of his book.

Dylan worked on his web site and cleaned it up and some of the stories.

Education

Robbie Blair points out words that may “gum up your text” and be candidates for elimination or change.  Tameri has a longer list of words to reconsider.  Then think about everything you wrote to see if it really adds to the story.  See what to leave out, while still giving the reader what they need with a good flow.

The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in. ~Henry Green

Upcoming Schedule

July 20
Aime
Ciuin
Dylan

July 27
Dakota
Randy
Ciuin

August 3
Nick
Open slots

August 10
Randy
Open slots

August 17
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 13, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 13th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An essay tries to explain why Jane Austen remains popular with readers in a much different world.

Victories

Dylan wrote 10k words.

Randy’s book made the Coe Alumni magazine.  Next Page Books is taking his book on consignment.  He will have a book signing in Bellevue.

Dakota sold 19 books on pre-order and is going to participate in an 81-author book signing in Peoria.

Education (reprint)

Every author may dream of having a book on the best-seller lists. The most famous of many such lists are the ones from the NY Times. Publishers Weekly has lists. Amazon has theirs and other organizations publish them.

Making such a list one week will greatly help following sales of that and future books. What goes on behind the scenes to come up with the lists and to get on them? As mentioned in that article, there are sometimes shenanigans, as authors pay dearly for that momentary acclaim that could bring long-term benefits.

Critics point out the defects in relying on best seller lists, and even call for eliminating such lists, which seems unlikely.

One author found that making a best-seller list did not bring financial rewards because her publisher went bankrupt before sending her any royalties.

Upcoming Schedule

July 13
Aime
Randy
Dylan

July 20
Laura
Aime
Open slot

July 27
Dakota
Open slots

August 3
Nick
Open slots

August 10
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 6, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 6th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The summer edition of Science Fiction News is available.

Victories

Aime’s son started writing a novel.

Dylan is adding to Second Hand Dresses, and planning stories for three commissions.

Education

One of the things an author can do to improve their work is to go over a piece looking for ways to tighten the sentences.  Often a change will express the meaning more clearly and with smoother flow.

For example, why say “his habit of spending wastefully” when you can say “his extravagance”, or replace “the car drove haltingly and noisily down the street” with “the car lumbered” or “the car hiccoughed down the street” instead?  This site offers more exercises with suggested answers.

Here’s another good discussion with examples of cutting extra words.  This site has good ideas, but (for shame) has a run-on in the intro note.

Upcoming Schedule

July 6
Nick
Aime
exercise

July 13
Open slots

July 20
Laura
Aime
Open slot

July 27
Open slots

August 3
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for June 29, 2017

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 29th, 2017 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A controversial law in California regulates sale of autographed items, with the intention of reducing trafficking in counterfeits. (text of bill)  It wasn’t intended to affect stores selling books autographed by the authors, but they need to pay attention to what comes out of the dispute and lawsuits.

Victories

Dylan rewrote seven chapters and added a new one for Second Hand Dresses. He got a story commission.

Education

The Guide to Grammar and Style, by Jack Lynch at Rutgers, offers advice on a wide variety of topics.  His disregard for absolute rules is interesting.

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.  ~Katharine Hepburn

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them. ~T.S. Eliot

Upcoming Schedule

Jun 29 (6,000 word slots)
Dylan
Bill
exercise

July 6
Nick
Aime
Open slot

July 13
Open slots

July 20
Open slots

July 27
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

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.

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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