Monthly Archives: February 2018

The Noble Pen for Feb 22, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

February 22nd, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News/Editorial

Writing has the power to change minds.  But a new factor has entered.  Computational Propaganda is the use of massive collections of personal data (What did you click on today? What organizations do you get email from?) and vast computational power to deliver just the right message (maybe true, biased, or false) to each person to sway their opinion.

An essayist says “no matter what your political inclinations may be, if you value a healthy functioning democracy, then something needs to be done to get ahead of computational propaganda’s curve.”

We all need to take time to seek out a variety of opinions and sort through them to see what makes sense, and not just read what F*cebook offers us or the click-bait from other services.

Victories

Aime’s editorial was published in the Gazette.

Ciuin started editing a pastor’s book.  She made progress on Chessmaster.

Stacie S. is sending Brian Sanderson a thank you (and copy of her book) for his educational series.

Randy was asked to do a signing at a Decorah bookstore.

Education

Devlin Blake offers a list of ways to make your story boring.  If you aren’t writing a bedtime story to help readers fall asleep, then you need to make sure you aren’t doing those things.  Another article is aimed at bloggers, but can be applied to most writing.

Do your characters have an easy time of it?  That’s not very interesting to readers, who usually expect to see tension and conflict before the resolution.  Brian Klems suggests ways to Push Your Characters to Their Limits.  Here are some tools to spice up the tension with conflict.

If you’ve ever found yourself pushed to the limits of your tolerance… you find yourself doing some things that, from the outside, can be seen as quite insane. ~Brandon Lee

February 22
Randy
Ciuin
Aime

March 1
Riley 10-minute educational
Nick
Jeremiah
Riley

March 8
Randy
Stacie S.
Open slot

March 15
Open slots

March 22
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Feb 15, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

February 15th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

The National Book Awards took a small step to becoming more international with the addition of a prize for books translated into English.

Victories

Aime submitted a column to the newspaper.

Education

How long should a story be?  How long is a piece of string? They should be long enough to do the job without a lot of excess.  Always review your story to see if it contains padding that does not move the story along.  However, a long manuscript may not be publishable by traditional publishers regardless of whether it is the right length for the story it tells.  If your writing is tight and still too long, you may have to modify the events of the story to fit a publishable range.

The Nebula Awards define lengths for short story, novelette, novella, and novel.  Other peoples’ definitions vary.  Other formats include drabble, usually defined as a story of around (sometimes exactly) 100 words, and flash fiction, which is variously defined as less than 300 or 1000 words.

The average book sold through Amazon in 2014 had 64,500 words.  Chuck Sambuchino offers a detailed guide that recommends 80-100 k words for most novels and memoirs, with sci-fi running slightly longer.  Westerns and books for younger readers tend to be shorter.  Here’s another guide , and a third, that mostly agree, and define lengths for other formats.  Wikipedia goes into the details of counting words, which you can digest for details after getting your story into the right length range for your market.  Whatever MS Word reports tends to be used nowadays unless someone has specific counting software.

One always tends to overpraise a long book, [just] because one has got through it. ~E. M. Forster

You know what writers say about their long books: If I had another year, the book would be half as long. ~David Remnick

Upcoming Schedule

February 15
10-minute educational – Stacie S.
Aime
Stacie S (submission carried over)
Ciuin

February 22
Randy
Ciuin
Stacie S.

March 1
Riley 10-minute educational
Nick
Jeremiah
Open slot

March 8
Randy
Open slots

March 15
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Feb 8, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

February 8th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Cracked Walnut is a traveling literary group based in Minneapolis. They will be doing a prose and p**try reading in Cedar Rapids, 7 pm Saturday Feb 3 at Peoples Church, 4980 Gordon Ave NW (a block west of Jacolyn Park). See link for information.

–//–

Prolific author Ursula K. Le Guin died recently at age 88.  She first submitted to a science fiction magazine in 1940 at age 11 and got her first rejection .  She was published several years later and over a long career turned out over a hundred pieces: short stories, collections, poems, novels in several genres, and non-fiction books.  One of her non-fiction works was recently released.

Victories

Aime wrote two speeches and a draft of an editorial.

Ciuin finshed reading a book.

Education

Word repetition, or “echo word” is a too-common, although not major, flaw in most people’s first drafts.  A little attention to substitutions can quickly make improvements.  This article offers some examples of rephrasing.  Repetition can also be a useful tool  when done carefully.

A search will find many tools to point out repetition, for example this one.

Do not fall into the trap of simply choosing the next word in a thesaurus, because synonyms all have nuances of meaning and using a poor choice will convey the wrong meaning.

If you re-read your work, you can find on re-reading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing. ~William Safire

Upcoming Schedule

February 8
Randy
Stacie S
Riley

February 15
10-minute educational – anyone?
Aime
Stacie S
Ciuin

February 22
Randy
Ciuin
Open slot

March 1
Riley 10-minute educational
Nick
Jeremiah
Open slot

March 8
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill