The Noble Pen for Dec 4, 2014

Next Noble Pen Meeting

December 4th, 2014 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


The first “comprehensive and annotated” autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder will hit the stores soon.   Called Pioneer Girl, it is a project of the South Dakota Historical Society.  She wrote down much of the gritty detail of her life before writing the fiction series of Little House books, which draw on her life but are dramatized with made-up characters and events.  Now the autobiographical material has been published and supported by research.


I’m sure everyone got a lot of writing done.


Passive voice (wikipedia) is usually not the most effective way to express the exciting events of a story, but it can have its place.

Passive means that the object of the action is put in the place where you expect a subject, as in “The letter was written by me.”  The object – the thing written- starts the sentence where you expect a subject.  This changes the emphasis from who did it to what was done.

The passive sentence “The bank was approached by the stealthy conspirators” probably has the emphasis in the wrong place.  We need to pay more attention to the conspirators than the bank, which is just sitting there, and active voice helps us do that, as “The stealthy conspirators approached the bank.”

Sometimes passive voice is appropriate; “the letter” could be the most important to the idea being expressed rather than the writer.  “The letter was written by me, but the enclosed poem was not.”  Another use of passive voice, particularly in scholarly writing, is to talk about a result while avoiding the mention of who caused the action, which may be unimportant or unknown.  “A new cancer drug was developed that year.”  “The bank was robbed last week.”  The wikipedia article gives more discussion of when passive is appropriate.

Note that not every form of the verb “to be” is passive.  (Part 2) In particular, the progressive (also called continuous) tenses are active, as in “I was running.”  Also note that running is still an active verb in this case, not a gerund (noun form) as it would be in “Running makes me ache.”

Upcoming Schedule

Dec 4

Dec 11

Dec 18
Dylan (?)

Dec 25
Christmas – no meeting

Jan 1
New Year’s Day – no meeting

Keep Writing,