The Noble Pen for January 2, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

January 2nd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


We will not be meeting the day after Christmas.  Use some of that time off to work on your writing.  We will meet on January 2nd, on the theory that people should be recovered from the party days by then.


Although I have some requests for review slots, I plan to wait until the next meeting to assign them for Jan 16th.  I think we should give some weight to how long it has been since someone got a slot, and negative weight to how many slots a person has used recently, rather than giving them to the first who speaks up.  Your comments?


At this time of year, everyone seems to do lists.  Here are lists of the best books of 2013 from NPR’s book departmentThe New Yorker, and Amazon.


Jed set a goal to produce a 2nd draft of Castalia and spent several hours working toward it.

Tyree found 15 old story beginnings in his files that need to be finished and worked on one.

Ciuin is making good progress on her (almost) final cleanup of Petty Theft.


Belonging to a writers critique group is perhaps the best thing a person can do to improve their writing (wide reading is another), and has several benefits.

Giving good critiques tends to improve one’s own writing as you learn to identify what it is you don’t like in a piece of writing.  Listening to or reading good critique also helps.  How should you critique?  Here are some ideas and a source or another.

1. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Even if you disagree with their opinion and attitude, you should be able to concentrate objectively on what they did and did not do to present an understandable, engaging piece of writing.

2. Find something positive to say, as well as negatives.  The writer needs confirmation of what is working well.

3. If the author gave an indication of what they want comments on, please focus on those aspects.  Also, if they have a target audience, make your comments appropriate to improving the piece for that audience, even if that wouldn’t be the way you would want it yourself.

4. Be as specific as you can about what needs improvement.  Offer suggestions, don’t just say you don’t like it.

5. Don’t into a long discussion or try to get the author to concede your point.  Just make the point and move on.

6. Don’t belabor points that others have made.  A ditto is sufficient.

7. Unless there is a major trend, don’t discuss simple grammar, punctuation, and spelling when speaking at a meeting.  Just mark the copy editing stuff on the paper you give the author.

8. Remember that often you will be reviewing a portion of a work, and things that you think are missing could be in other chapters.

9. Remember that your work may be critiqued by this group and make your comments in a manner you would like to receive.


 I critique myself way harder than anybody else could critique me. ~Wiz Khalifa

I’m honest about expressing my opinions. At the same time, I’m diplomatic in how I do critique things if I have a negative response. ~Tim Gunn

One of the hardest things for me, now that I’m famous, is finding people who can read my stuff and give me an honest critique. ~Ken Follett

Upcoming Schedule

Dec 26th
No meeting.

Jan 2nd

Jan 9th
More about commas

Jan 16th
Open slots

Keep Writing,