The Noble Pen for March 24, 2016

Next Noble Pen Meeting

March 24, 2016 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


We’ve heard that Iowa Public Television will be conducting mass interviews with published Iowa authors on March 26 from 10 to 6 at the Artisan’s Sanctuary for use in a future program.  You may want to contact them or kevinbrubaker (at) mchsi (period) com for details.


Cassie did beta reading for three others and got ideas about restructuring her own story.  She got cover designs for her next three books.  She realized what Dreams in Red needed and has mapped the changes.

Bill got comments from his reader.

Randy has reached 80 k words in his novel.


It ain’t over until it’s over. ~Yogi Berra.  Make sure your story has a good ending, so the reader won’t decide it was over before the end.   The reader should be satisfied that it is a logical (though unexpected) wrap up of the conflict.  A cliffhanger or obvious lead into a sequel is only acceptable if you have a multi-book contract in hand. While much of the advice out there pertains to novels, even a short story needs an ending.

The backstory should have been explained before the later part of the book.  Anything there should at least been foreshadowed, or the reader may feel you’ve cheated them by not setting it up properly.

It is best if the protagonist is deeply involved in the resolution, as the catalyst for the resolution, and/or by being changed by the events.  It is not good for them to just watch the resolution or to be rescued; it is better if they are the rescuer but must overcome some personal obstacles to perform the rescue.

Try to have some unexpected (but foreshadowed) turns.  Don’t just have it wrap up like a column of falling dominoes.  Make the reader feel they need to know the outcome, but can’t predict it.  These are the books they will remember and recommend.  Make the ending a dash to the finish line, perhaps a zig-zag one, but no more complicated than necessary.  Emphasize conflict, not description.  Don’t complicate it with explanations or philosophizing.  Try not to need a lot of wrap-up after the climax.  This sentiment is echoed here.

The story can come full-circle, so the ending resembles the beginning except for the characters’ growth and solving a problem.  Or it can have a linear ending where the characters have moved on in place, maturity, etc.

The ending of a story is the payoff, and the reader wants the payoff to be worth having read it all.  Larry Brooks talks about structuring the story for a killer ending.  Vicki Hinze discusses how to wrap it up.  Here’s Laura Miller’s take on what makes a great ending.  It’s up to you, should it have a happy ending?

Writer’s Digest gives some advice on the ending of your novel.

It’s important to get it right.  Remember, Hemingway wrote 39 endings to Farewell to Arms.

Nobody reads a (novel) to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it’s a let down, they won’t buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.. The last page sells your next book. ~ Mickey Spillane

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. ~Lao Tzu

Upcoming Schedule

March 24
Aime W.
Bill H.

March 31

April 7

April 14
Aime W.

April 21
Open slots

Keep Writing,