The Noble Pen for Jan 29, 2015

Next Noble Pen Meeting

January 29th, 2015 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


Here’s a dismal view of the future of publishing.


Tyree submitted Wolf to a publisher.

Ciuin wrote another protest letter.

Cassie addressed tension issues in a chapter and ended up doubling its length.  She asked someone to be a beta reader, and they said they’d rather do copy edits for her.


If you as a writer are taking your reader back to historical times, you don’t need a sci-fi machine, but you do need a heavy dose of research.

The first problem is making the earlier times seem right to readers who may not have a lot of detailed knowledge of it.  For them, you need references that they will recognize.  Mention of horseless carriages will take most people back to the early 20th century.  Fallout shelters may bring the 1950’s to mind to older people, but younger ones may not have heard of them. Black and white TV might work better for them.  Party lines (that’s several houses on the same wired phone line) may be a foreign concept to younger folks.   Listening to Elvis and Buddy Holly might work for more people.

The second problem is avoiding anachronisms.  The people who do know the historical period will burn your book (and your ratings) if you get things wrong.    How silly would it look to have a detective in 1982 Google an address on his smart phone?  We all know that not only didn’t he have a cell phone, he is unlikely to have a home computer, and there was no internet.  Did they use forks at dinner in 1200 AD?  Research it.   Could the fur trapper back from the wilds take a train?  Not at the height of the fur trade era.  Could the Civil War soldier zip his coat?  Not by decades.

Names should be chosen from those in use at the time.  A World War II widow named Brittney or Aimee just wouldn’t be believed, any more than a 2005 graduate named Agnes, Mabel,  Mildred, or Archibald.

And the characters’ language must avoid more recent jargon, slang, and common expressions.  As this article says, a reference to a person who did not fit into 1850 society would not be “What planet is he from?” A medieval peasant would not say an easy job was a piece of cake.

Characters’ attitudes and world view (there’s a modern term) may be even harder to deal with than their words, particularly when dealing with the interaction of different social classes.

Tessa Arlen has recommendations for getting the time right.  Kate Nagy has good comments about what might be overlooked and what won’t.

Upcoming Schedule

Jan 29

Feb 5
Ciuin ?
Tyree ?

Feb 12
Open slots

Feb 19
Open slot

Feb 26
Open slots

Keep Writing,