The Noble Pen for Sept 3, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Sept 3rd, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Attendance has hit both highs and lows recently. We need your participation when you can make it.

–//–

The Hugo Awards for sci-fi have been given for 2015, and the “Sad Puppies” probably had some effect but none of their slate of candidates won. They appear to have succeeded in heading off several nominations from making the finalist lists. This group was protesting what they saw as a trend to equalize women and minority awards regardless of the quality of the works. The arguments caused a record turnout of member voters.

–//–

Terry Pratchett’s last novel is out posthumously.

Victories

Cassie wrote 2200 words, updated her web site, and started a mailing list and subscribe link on the site.  She put a picture relating to her story in progress out on Twitter and got interest.

Dylan has more than 200 followers on Twitter.  He made progress on a commission, which like most is going to run longer than planned.

Tyree wrote his first paranormal romance story.  It is 4800 words and he did it in one sitting.

Education

Some mistakes make the writer look like a rookie,  so you should try especially hard to avoid them.  Chuck Wendig lists several common problems.  (Just read past his crude language, which some may find to be less effective than straight talk.)  He says you shouldn’t overdo the details that don’t add much to the characterizations or plot.  You should get the story moving on page 1, and get the reader involved with the characters’ problems right away.  Above all, you need clarity to avoid confusing the reader.

Here’s another list of mistakes to avoid and still another.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 3
Dylan
Cassie
Dylan’s lesson on POV?

Sept 10
Open slots
(Laura evaluating readiness)

Sept 17
Open slots

Sept 24
Open slots

Oct 1
Open slots

Oct 8
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 27, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 27th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Attendance has hit both highs and lows recently.  We need your participation when you can make it.

Victories

Cassie has made good progress with her Christmas paranormal romance, by adding 2000 more words.  She found the certificate from a Young Writers conference she attended in 5th grade, and it gives her inspiration.

Dylan had a 10,000-word writing weekend.

Education

Should you use adverbs?  Most advice says yes, but in moderation.  Adverbs aren’t only words ending in -ly, but include any modifier of an adjective or verb, including adverbial phrases.

They are overdone if they are being used in place of active verbs, strong dialog, and good adjectives.   For the choice  (“Hurry,” he said loudly.),  or (“Hurry,” he yelled.)  the strong verb is better than the adverb. “Very” is an adverb that rarely adds anything to a sentence.

There are times when an adverb is the best choice.  “An overly long phone call upset her schedule,” “He entered silently,” and “He ate quickly” make good use of adverbs.

Here are some references about adverbs:
A summary sheet
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?

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 27
Tyree
Cassie

Sept 3
Dylan
Cassie
Dylan’s lesson on POV

Sept 10
Open slots

Sept 17
Open slots

Sept 24
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 20, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 20th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Attendance has hit both highs and lows recently.  We need your participation when you can make it.

Victories

Stacie and Shannon have scheduled a book reading and signing on Sept 18.

Education

Nancy Spiller offers some advice for memoir writers.  Here are three important things to consider.  Here’s another take on it.

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 20
Cassie
Stacie

Aug 27
Tyree (?)
Open slot

Sept 3
Open slots

Sept 10
Open slots

Sept 17
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for August 13, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 13th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

In an interview, long-time author Usula K. Le Guin (see wikipedia) names a wide variety of books and authors she likes, but stubbornly refuses to pick any absolute favorites.

Victories

Dylan is posting Sand and Ash as a weekly serial.

Tyree got proofs for Bombay Sapphire II and turned them back in.  He may be getting an agent, and BS could be considered for a movie.

Cassie wrote another 6,000 words on the paranormal Christmas romance.

Ciuin was asked to write the text panels for a museum exhibit.

Nick started editing Part 2 of Earth Ends.

Education

Where do you start your story?  All stories happen over time, and the author must decide whether to present events in chronological order, in some interesting disorder, or start at an attention-grabbing point and fill in the background later (in medias res) – but not necessarily the MOST action-packed moment.

Michael Rabiger explains the many timeline options in terms of film, but novelists should gain insights as well.

Flashbacks can be used if not overdone, but it is best to fill in all you can of the information the reader needs about preceding events with a minimum of flashbacks.  Here are some tips on using and avoiding flashbacks.

And now the sequence of events in no particular order. ~Dan Rather

A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order. ~Jean-Luc Godard

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 13
Ciuin (Dylan backup)
Stacie

Aug 20
Cassie
Ciuin?

Aug 27
Tyree (?)
Open slot

Sept 3
Open slots

Sept 10
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for August 6, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 6th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

They keep finding old manuscripts and publishing them.  Besides Harper Lee, there is one by Dr. Seuss.

Victories

Dylan got over a writer’s block.  He also started serializing an old story.

Education

How do you describe your characters?   Rachel Scheller says that you should avoid making the description sound like a police all-points bulletin, or overdoing the adjectives.  Instead, tell more about what is inside them, and use actions to depict them.  Here is a list of characteristics that aren’t all physical.

You may find this automatic description generator amusing, but it probably doesn’t do what you need.

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 6
Tyree
Nick

Aug 13
Ciuin
Open slot (Dylan backup)

Aug 20
Cassie
Open slot

Aug 27
Open slots

Sept 3
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 30, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 30th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Author E. L. Doctorow died recently at age 84.  He wrote many novels that combined fictional characters with real people of the past.  Here’s an interview.

Victories

Cassie has been prolific, writing 8k words in 3 days on a novella in response to an open call for submissions to an anthology of “Christmas paranormal romance”.  She also got 4 comments from editors on her last submission to the Avon contest, and wrote 6k words on her novel that is an outgrowth of her contest submissions.

Ciuin finished an article for City Revealed magazine.

Stacie has a book of 4 fantasy short stories just out in print.

Education

Many words and phrases linger in English but have become idiom because their original meaning is obsolete.  Everybody knows the phrase “carbon copy,” but how many have actually used carbon paper to make a copy?

Someone may say they were “hung out to dry” if left alone to face a problem, but how many have hung out clothes to dry on a clothesline?  Who has actually heard a “broken record” on the phonograph?  “Don’t touch that dial,” but you have a radio or TV upon which you can turn a dial?  Is it bigger than a bread box?

Many other phrases never had a literal interpretation, but convey a sense of the past to those old enough to remember their use.   Life used to be “swell”, but when’s the last time anything was swell or neato?  Gee whillikers!

There are more of these old expressions “than Carter had liver pills”.  “Kilroy was here”, but he isn’t anymore. This is a fine kettle of fish!  Do you look “like the wreck of the Hesperus” when you get up? Heavens to Betsy!  I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!   Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!  Holy moley!

You can’t bring those days back, not for all the tea in China, but you can remind people of them by using them when writing a story set in the past.  See ‘ya later, alligator!

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 30
Dylan
Ciuin

Aug 6
Tyree
Nick

Aug 13
Ciuin
Open slot

Aug 20
Cassie
Open slot

Aug 27
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 23, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 23rd, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Harper Lee’s book is out and getting mixed reviews.   Everybody is excited, and most find it worthwhile reading but not fully developed as they expect a novel to be.  It portrays a greater complexity of black-white relations than To Kill a Mockingbird.  Some find it confusing  “politically and artistically” and disappointing in how some of the good characters in Mockingbird, particularly Atticus Finch, turned out in this story set later.  Based on early reviews, it appears this book will prompt discussion for a long time, and certainly is not a dud as some feared.

Victories

The proposal Ciuin wrote for a children’s’ program at the museum was accepted.

Erin wrote an answer to a question that helped her work relationships.

Mark’s 3rd article on gaming was accepted and he was paid.

Education

Do you sometimes struggle with your writing, or its impact on your life? You’re not alone. Here are some problems that are almost universal among writers.    And another list.

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Joseph Conrad

Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. ~Napoleon Hill

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 23
Jed
Erin

Jul 30
Dylan
Ciuin

Aug 6
Tyree
Nick

Aug 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 16, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 16th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Should novelists try to be moralists via their stories?  These commentators seem to be against embedding more than a hint of moral teaching.  Do you agree?  I mostly disagree.  Did Grapes of Wrath have only a hint?  Brave New World?  I think it shouldn’t be blatant preaching, but having an underlying message can be good.

–//–

You’ve probably used the phrase “It’s all Greek to me.”  Here’s some history on why Shakespeare used it.

Victories

Cassie wrote Chapter 4 for the Avon contest with 4200 words and Chapter 5 with 3000.  She got comments on her chapter from a prominent guest author.  She wrote 7000 words toward a goal of 30,000 for Camp NaNoWriMo, and wrote two blog posts.

Tyree has Bombay Sapphire in print.  He broke through a block and wrote 2300 words on Yoelin in two hours before the meeting.  His short story collection was accepted for publication in October.

Erin convinced her husband that writing was a worthwhile use of her time.

Laura finished Chapter 5 for the Avon contest.  She is reworking the beginning of The Ice Lord to submit to a call for submissions by Mills and Boon.

Education

Whether fiction or non-fiction, most writing is about people.  Real or imagined, the people you are writing about need to seem real and alive to the reader.  This article discusses making the reader feel your character’s emotions, Part 1 and Part 2.

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 16
Nick
Ciuin

Jul 23
Jed
Erin

Jul 30
Dylan
Ciuin

Aug 6
Tyree
Open slot

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 9, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 9th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Harper Lee’s long-forgotten novel is getting lots of attention as book sellers prepare for the release date.  More on its discovery.

–//–

Smart phones are getting smarter, but Apple and Google don’t take the same approach.

Victories

Laura got good comments on her Avon contest submission from two editors.

Mark’s third gaming article was accepted.

Dylan’s Sand and Blood advanced to the final round of four books in Elitist Book Reviews for best self-published SF&F book of 2014.  He finished a commission and got paid.

Nick is writing reports on his railfan trip.

Erin found the group and has writing to submit.

Education

Do you have only a short time on a given day to write?  Make the best use of scattered moments through out the day to make notes of ideas for plot, character, and scenes.  Here’s a list of possible times to think about your story. Use your phone or other gadgets to capture those notes while driving.  Or as one member does, think through your plots while exercising.

When you do sit down to write, you may find it best to just capture the ideas and not worry about cleaning it up.  Keep editing as a separate (but necessary) task so you don’t slow down the creative process.

Do whatever it takes to make sure that when you sit down to write, you don’t get distracted.  Some people keep an old computer, off net, just for writing so they aren’t distracted by email and F*ceb**k.   If you’re going to want a cup of tea, make it before sitting down so you don’t interrupt yourself to get it.

Here are 10 tips on productivity and another series of tips by a prolific writer.

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 9
Laura
Tyree

Jul 16
Nick
Ciuin

Jul 23
Jed
Erin

Jul 30
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for July 2, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

July 2nd, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

What if Chaucer had Twitter?   Someone is writing with that premise.  It’s not exactly quotes from the past, as shown by phrases such as “thy portable xboxe CCCLX.”

Victories

Tyree’s Bombay Sapphire is out in print.  One of his stories was accepted for a Lovecraft-themed anthology.  He now has a smart phone and knows how to use several features.

Barbara has her computer set up in the new house and is ready to write again.

Laura submitted chapter 4 of the Avon contest, and then found ways to improve it before the revision cutoff.  She also submitted an optional cover artwork.

Education

Giving effective critiques is an art in itself, and is fraught with interpersonal complexities.  Melissa Donovan offers some advice on giving effective but diplomatic critiques.  Here’s a list of topics to think about in writing a critique.

Sometimes it is hard to accept critiques after you worked so hard on a piece.   Pia Padukone tells about how hard it was for her to accept criticism, and how she got over it.  Here are Melissa Donovan’s thoughts.

You need to consider that there are many opinions out there, and you are trying to write something that will hold the interest of as many readers as possible.  There is a rule of thumb that if one person says something, it’s just their opinion.  If two say it, you should expect that others may think the same thing.  If many people say it, you have to concede that they have a point.

In the end, after you consider all the opinions, you still can think about selected reviewers, “You’re not my target audience.”

Upcoming Schedule

Jul 2
Dylan
Eugenia

Jul 9
Laura
Tyree (?)

Jul 16
Nick
Open slot

Jul 23
Jed
Open slot

Jul 30
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill