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


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.


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


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.


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

Nov 22
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Nov 29

Dec 6
Open slots

Dec 13
Open slots

Keep Writing,