Next Noble Pen Meeting
July 26th, 2012 at 7 pm
1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids
A new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell To Arms (1929) includes alternate sections and 39 endings that he kept in his files. There may be a lesson there on revising until you are satisfied. If we become famous will somebody want the versions we submitted for Noble Pen review?
Kris sent Shannon the cover artwork for his novel Fangs for Nothing.
Ciuin has been busy turning out articles for the Romany organizations. She finished an article for one group, a review of a Romany music CD for another, and an opinion piece critical of the National Geographic channel’s series “American Gypsies.” She also completed a Statement of Purpose for her UI program.
Tyree says Sam’s Dot sales on Kindle are doing well.
Author and critic Alexei Panshin (wikipedia) has on his web site an extensive biographical and critical essay on the early part of Robert Heinlein’s (wikipedia) writing career. It is an excerpt from his book The World Beyond the Hill, which traces the evolution of science fiction.
Educational point: he describes Heinlein’s expertise, early in his career, in immersing the reader in the world of the story without ever stopping to describe it. Rather, he had the characters’ conversations, actions, and thoughts just assume it to be, in such a way the reader easily got the picture. This was relatively uncommon at the time; compare authors such as Bradbury. I also note that he often opened with dialog, but kept it crisp and informative.
Here’s the opening of his story Free Men that illustrates how much background you can imply without stopping the action:
“That makes three provisional presidents so far,” the Leader said. “I wonder how many more there are?” He handed the flimsy sheet back to the runner, who placed it in his mouth and chewed it up like gum.
The third man shrugged. “No telling. What worries me-“ A mockingbird interrupted. “Doity, doity, doity,” he sang. “Terloo, terloo, terloo, purty-purtypurty-purty.”
The clearing was suddenly empty
“As I was saying,” came the voice of the third man in a whisper in the Leader’s ear, “it ain’t how many worries me, but how you tell a de Gaulle from a Laval. See anything?”
“Convoy. Stopped below us.” The Leader peered through bushes and down the side of a bluff.
Notice that he does not tell you we are hiding in the woods with a resistance group in a country where a breakdown or conquest has splintered the loyalties of the population, because that can be inferred from the dialog and action.
And this opening from Logic of Empire:
“Don’t be a sentimental fool, Sam!”
“Sentimental, or not,” Jones persisted, “I know human slavery when I see it. That’s what you’ve got on Venus.”
Humphrey Wingate snorted. “That’s utterly ridiculous. The company’s labor clients are employees, working under legal contracts, freely entered into.”
Jones’ eyebrows raised slightly. “So? What kind of a contract is it that throws a man into jail if he quits his job?”
He does not have to tell you that this will be a story of resistance to enslaving corporate power in a somewhat bureaucratic space-faring society.
The trick is to squeeze enough information into the action and dialog to keep the reader from getting lost.