The Noble Pen for January 23, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

January 23rd, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


Alban Lake is accepting entries for a new Drabble contest.


Dylan found two beta readers for a novel and resubmitted a rejected story.

Rachel has been reading a lot.

Jed is reading very difficult material.

Cassie has been so involved with her novel that she wakes up at night and starts working on it.

Ciuin has made progress on incorporating suggestions from beta readers of Petty Theft.


What’s a plot device and where can I buy one?  No, it isn’t a gadget sold at Big*Mart or on the TV shopping channel.  A plot device is  anything the author devises to move the plot along, although it is not itself central to the plot except for being a motivator or facilitator.

Here are several types.  They can be useful but also can be poor choices; for example, deus ex machina is typically a poor plot device.

A plot device could be the occurrence of an auto accident that brings together characters who need to meet in the plot.  It could be an accident that delays a character to miss a schedule.  A red herring may be classed as a plot device.  A language translator is a common scifi plot device (yes, here it is an actual device, but not available on the shopping channel) that overcomes a hindrance to the plot.

Another kind of device is the use of some background activity to mirror the main character’s development.  Alison Atlee discusses uses of the plot device. One of her example is a career ladder that parallels the character’s inner journey.

It may be some magical power, which motivates the characters, creates problems, or enables them to solve the problems they face.

It may be Hitchcock’s MacGuffin, which is some object or person the main characters are trying to find or protect, that gives them motivations and activity in the story, even though the characteristics of that object or person are not directly important.  Perhaps it is a stolen document, a deadline that must be met, a missing person, or the Lost Ark.  Any other would work as well if the characters believed it was so important.

Normally you read a screenplay – and I read a lot of them – and the characters don’t feel like people. They feel like plot devices or cliches or stereotypes.  ~Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I’ve always liked the idea of taking old dramatic ideas and devices and making them feel relevant or contemporary or whatever. ~Edward Norton

Upcoming Schedule

Jan 23rd
More about commas.

Jan 30th
Barbara & Matt

Feb 6th
Short grammar lesson

Feb 13th
Open slots

Keep Writing,