The Noble Pen for May 30, 2013

Next Noble Pen Meeting

May 30th, 2013 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


A unpublished novel by Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck  (1892-1973) was recently found in storage and is being published.  Keep you unpublished work — your grandchildren may be able to reap the reward after your other books succeed.


Ciuin survived the semester and aced all her papers including the final in the writing course.  An author to whom she had complained about Romani stereotypes has apologized and asked her to consult on the next book to get it right.

Bill actually wrote fiction for a few hours.


Commas are often a sore subject for writers.  There are grammatical rules to dictate some of their uses, but they may also be used for effect, such as pauses .  Fortunately, the rules are somewhat flexible and you have leeway.  Unfortunately, the rules are somewhat flexible and you never are sure what is right or wrong or will fit an editor’s styling preferences.

Wikipedia summarizes the uses of the comma.  They may be used for lists, separation of dependent clauses, setting off non-essential interrupting phrases, setting off initial adverbs (like therefore, however, and so), between multiple adjectives, and several other ways.

An optional comma can be used to indicate where the writer wants the reader to pause in a sentence. This changes the emphasis of the parts of the sentence, and can help in parsing a complicated sentence or suggest which of multiple interpretations is intended.  It is not necessary to put a comma everywhere you pause, however.

A frequent problem is running two sentences (independent clauses) together into one using a comma instead of a conjunction.   Wikipedia and Tina Blue explain comma splice problems, but she also has some partly contrary examples showing how comma splices can be used artistically.  Wikipedia also

The Most Comma Mistakes shows us what we probably most need to watch out for.

Most writers paragraph for effect, punctuate on impulse, and let split infinitives and comma splices fall where they may.  Omnivorous reading substitutes for systematic study.  Syntactic nomenclature is a thing they learn only if, somehow trapped into teaching others the craft, they find themselves in need of terms to describe the errors of their students. ~Dwight Swain

I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out. ~Oscar Wilde

And finally, a slightly risque cartoon, the Comma Sutra.

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May 30th


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