Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Noble Pen for Nov 15, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Nov 15th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Amazon subsidiary AbeBooks recently took back their decision to cut off some countries from access to their operations, after a protest by hundreds of participating book dealers.

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Barnes and Noble is not doing well.  Although some blame Amazon, others say Amazon is not the whole problem.

Victories

Randy wrote on his novel and was very pleased with what he produced.

Nick wrote on the second book of his trilogy and is now in the home stretch.

Aime has produced 6,000 words on her NaNoWriMo effort, which is a bit behind schedule but good for the amount of time available to write.

Ciuin wrote some paragraphs she really liked but lost them to the computer spirits.

Education

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? Zombies?  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 was written by me, but the enclosed poem was not.”  The letter could be most important to the idea being expressed rather than the writer.   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 building was demolished last week.”  The Wikipedia article linked above gives more discussion of when passive is appropriate.

Advice about passive voice (pdf file) and other subjects is given by this article. (Note that sentence is passive.)  Another article gives advice about passive voice. (Active)

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.” 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

Nov 15
Rebecca
Logan
Randy

Nov 22
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Nov 29
Aime
Ciuin
Logan

Dec 6
Nick
Open slots

Dec 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Nov 8, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Nov 8th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

You don’t often read a review that says a story about a murder on the moon got lost in info dumps and lectures and comes across as “a TED Talk being given in the middle of a car chase.”  It’s a lesson I have to keep reminding myself of.

Victories

Aime signed up for NaNoWriMo, where the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, and also talked her sister into it.

Ciuin gave a lesson on clear writing to her museum class.

Education

Do you need a prologue for your novel?  They are somewhat controversial and usually avoidable.

The best use of one is hen it takes place in a different time or place than the rest of the story, and perhaps does not involve the main character.   The challenge is to make it interesting, since the real story hasn’t started yet, to avoid an info dump, and to transition easily into chapter 1.

The controversial nature is shown by the number of  discussions of them on writing forums.  Another thread suggests some people skip them, which could make the rest of the story confusing for them.  Often a prologue could just as well be chapter 1.  Other times they should be deleted and their information woven into the story as needed or used as a flashback.

Upcoming Schedule

Nov 8
Nick
Logan
Aime

Nov 15
Rebecca
Logan
Randy

Nov 22
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Nov 29
Aime
Ciuin
Open slot

Dec 6
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill