The Noble Pen for Dec 8, 2016

Next Noble Pen Meeting

December 8th, 2016 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


December 8th will be our annual collision with a large party group that will occupy our usual space.  Look for us in some corner, probably to the left of the door as you enter.


Polling indicates enough interest to have meetings during the end-of-year holidays, as there is no direct conflict, and so we are scheduling review slots for those days.


Riley finished and submitted his short story.

Dakota requested return of rights to her short stories that had been accepted by a publisher who isn’t following through.

Bill found a reader for his entire draft.


Passive voice (Wikipedia) is usually not the most effective way to express the exciting events of a story, but it can have its place.  Excessive use will tend to slow down the pace and leave a reader uninterested.

Passive means that the person or thing the action was done to appears as the subject, as in “The letter was written by me.”  The actor is either unspecified, or relegated to an afterthought.

You can often identify passive voice by the lack of anyone doing the stated action, as in “The fort was attacked.”  But by whom?  Even if the sentence goes on to say who did it, the emphasis has already been shifted away from them.

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.  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 linked above gives more discussion of when passive is appropriate.

Note that not every form of the verb “to be” is passive (Part 1).  (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 8 (in the corner)
Aime W.
Stacy H.

Dec 15
Open slots

Dec 22
Aime W.
Open slots

Dec 29
Open slots

Jan 5
Open slots

Keep Writing,