Category Archives: Newsletters

This is the weekly newsletters for the Noble Pen Writer’s Group.

The Noble Pen for Oct 25, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Oct 25th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

An essay discusses H. P. Lovecraft (wikipedia), whose writing is fundamental to the horror genre, and finds his personal attitudes horrifying.

Victories

Randy is not getting a response about a signing he thought might happen in Decorah, but has a store in Dubuque interested in doing on in the spring.

Jesse submitted a very personal essay.

Ciuin evaluated alternatives for fight scenes.

Logan is rewriting a novella from years ago.

Education

Some authors start at the beginning of a story, without much of a plan, and see what develops.   They write “by the seat of their pants,” to use a metaphor that came from pilots who stay oriented by their senses instead of by instruments.  They let the story develop as it seems to need to go.

John Irving says he always knows where he’s headed, though it would appear from the interview that he doesn’t necessarily know how he will get there.  Still others know every step of the way before writing any scenes.  Each writer needs to try various advice to find what works for them.

Jan Ellison offers some tips.  I particularly like her point that you need to get to the end of the story before you spend time polishing parts of it.  That approach is consistent with the Snowflake Method.  It’s hard to bring yourself to tear up a beautiful chapter when you find later that the plot needed to go a different direction.  There are many ways or levels of detail to outline, from a strict structure to a loose summary of the story.

Which are you, or can you take a middle road?

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 25
Rebecca
Logan
Randy

Nov 1
Logan
Jesse
Ciuin

Nov 8
Nick
Logan
Aime

Nov 15
Open slots

Nov 22
Thanksgiving – no meeting

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Oct 18, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Oct 18th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

A recent flap brings up the difficult question of how similar something can be to others’ work without being a rip-off.

Victories

Randy totaled up his sales at 396 for the first book and 90 already for the second.  He has a five-star review on Amazon for the second book.

Logan’s short story has passed the first reading to possibly go into an anthology.

Education

Word repetition is a common problem for writers.  In the early drafts you are working at getting the story told in any words that come to mind.  As you revise, you need to notice when you are overworking a word and find a way to rephrase, use a pronoun, or find a synonym.  Ben Yagoda has some tips.  The more common words can be repeated more often.

This article discusses finding and replacing these echo words.

Repetition can also be used for desirable effects such as emphasis, rhythm, and mood.  More discussion here.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 18
Aime
Jesse (long)

Oct 25
Rebecca
Logan
Randy

Nov 1
Open slots

Nov 8
Nick
Open slots

Nov 8
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Oct 11, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Oct 11th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Mark Twain gave a young writer some advice in a letter that is up for auction.  If you have a spare $50K you might buy that letter, but fortunately the article tells us some of its contents.

Victories

Aime finished the second book in her quest to read all of Vonnegut’s works.

Several of us wrote drabbles this week.

Nick wrote on his trilogy.

Education

Nominalization (wikipedia) means taking a verb or adjective and adding a suffix to make a noun.  An example would be the adjective global.  It can be made a verb by adding to get globalize.  It can become a noun by further adding to make globalization.  It is sometimes a helpful process to create a word that succinctly expresses a meaning not easily conveyed by other simpler words. We get such useful words as difficulty,  investigation, failure, and reaction by nominalization of the base words difficult, investigate, fail, and react.

Taken to excess, nominalization makes writing obscure and pompous.  Clarity suffers.  Or to put it another way, a preponderance of nominalization incurs a tendency to the proliferation of obscurification and pomposity.

Ciuin has been suffering under academic writing styles and suggests this five-minute video as good advice about nominalization.  A short pdf file has good points about passive voice and nominalization.

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 11
Ciuin
Nick
Bill

Oct 18
Aime
Jesse
Open slots

Oct 25
Open slots

Nov 1
Open slots

Nov 8
Nick
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Oct 4, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Oct 4th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

We will have people reading their Drabbles and discussing them this week.  We may have time for more than were signed up, so go ahead and try your hand at writing one.  See last week’s newsletter for more information about Drabbles.

Victories

Randy had a successful book release signing, as he sold 56 copies of the new book and 3 of the first one.  He also met several interesting people with connections to the true events he drew on for his story.

Ciuin wrote a little on Chessmaster.

Stacie and Bill wrote drabbles.

Aime woke at 3 a.m. and started writing a new version of a story she started long ago. She sold two ebooks on Amazon.

Education

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.  Laura Miller explains what makes a great ending.  Here’s list of nine tips for an effective ending (hit escape to bypass the ad).  Jessica Soffer has her list of the 10 best book endings. with reasons why she chose them.

It’s important to get it right.  Hemingway wrote 39 endings to Farewell to Arms before deciding he had it right.

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

Upcoming Schedule

Oct 4
Nick
Jesse – discussion of pop culture and writing
Drabbles from Stacie, Jesse, Aime, and Rebecca, and maybe more?

Oct 11
Open slots

Oct 18
Aime
Open slots

Oct 25
Open slots

Nov 1
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 27, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Sept 27th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Finalists for the Man Booker prize in literature have been announced.  This is an award for works written in English by authors from anywhere in the world and published in the British Isles.  An official said this year “All of our six finalists are miracles of stylistic invention.”  This prize may get more than usual attention because the Nobel Prize in literature is not being awarded this year.

Victories

Randy’s book release got a full page in the Bellevue newspaper with his book cover, his own photo, and the story of the real coffin.

Jesse edited and submitted his story, the first serious writing he has done in a while.

Dylan got a writing weekend and turned out 40K words.

Ciuin wrote on Chessmaster, edited for a Petty Theft revision, and started work on her master’s essay.

Education

A drabble is a story in exactly 100 words.  It is difficult to fit the elements of an interesting story into such a short piece, and is thus a good exercise for a writer to develop clear and concise expression in all their work.  As in any story, it should include elements of setting, character(s), conflict, and resolution.  Other short lengths have also been used, and the general category is called Flash Fiction.

We will be experimenting with 100-word drabbles on Oct 4th.  Here are some comments about writing a drabble,  some examples, and more here.  I particularly like this one.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 27
Jesse-discussion of pop culture and writing
Aime
Stacie

Oct 4
Nick
Logan
Drabbles from Stacie, Jesse, Aime, and Rebecca

Oct 11
Ciuin
Open slots

Oct 18
Open slots

Oct 25
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept. 20, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Sept 20th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Even dyslexic people can become successful authors, as this woman found.

–//–

The classic Little Women is at its 150th anniversary.

Victories

Randy got paid for several books sold at the Bellevue store.

Aime finished the first book in her quest to read all Vonnegut works.  She has made progress in the beta read she is doing.

Logan got a rejection for a story, but only after their third reading and the magazine wants him to keep submitting.

Education

Writers can find many sources of information about submitting to agents, magazines, and book publishers.  Some people use the subscription site Duotrope to find places to submit and the submission guidelines.  Randy Ingermanson compares the process for different size publishers.

If you are looking to get into a big publishing house, an editor tells why a writer needs an agent.  You may benefit from Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents that comes out each fall (or on Amazon)  They also have guides for magazine writers,  screenwriters, poets, photographers, and other market segments.  AgentQuery offers some resources.

A resource often  mentioned is Query Tracker.  Check it out to see if you could benefit either from registering for its services or just from browsing its forum for information on agents, publishers, writing techniques, success stories, etc.  You could spend days on the site.

Although not quite up to date, this pdf list of 101 web sites with infomation that helps authors may still be relevant.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 20
Randy-submission plus discussion of planning sheet
Aime-discussion on writing villains.
Jesse

Sept 27
Jesse-discussion of pop culture and writing
Aime
Open slot

Oct 4
Nick
Logan
Drabble writing?
Open slot

Oct 10
Open slots

Oct 17
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 13, 2016

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Sept 13th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

If you create a good enough character, that persona can live on after you are gone.  Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is a good example, as other writers have continued the series and written a TV show.

Victories

Dylan got a fan letter (but can’t read much of the writing).

Nick wrote 20 pages.

Randy will have a table at the Iowa Library Association reception.  He has scheduled a party after his Bellevue signing with one of the characters from the book actually there performing music.

Stacy continues doing books on CD.

Education

Should you use adverbs?  Most well-reasoned advice says yes, but in moderation.   Adverbs aren’t only words ending in -ly, but include any modifier of an adjective or verb, including adverbial phrases Here’s a list of 3732 adverbs (just in case you didn’t think they were numerous).  If you aren’t clear, see this  Basic explanation of adjectives and adverbs.

Overuse can be a problem for writers.  They are overdone if they are being used in place of active verbs, strong dialog, and good adjectives.   For the choice  (“Hurry,” he said loudly.),  or (“Hurry,” he yelled.)  the strong verb is better than the adverb. “Very” is an adverb that rarely adds anything to a sentence.

So  use them carefully. There are times when an adverb is the best choice.  “An overly long phone call upset her schedule,” “He entered silently,” and “He ate quickly” make good use of adverbs.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 13
Amie
Nick
Stacie

Sept 20
Laura
Aime-discussion on writing villains.
Open slot

Sept 27
Open slots

Oct 4
Nick
Open slots

Oct 10
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Sept 6, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

Sept 6th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Age doesn’t have to limit a writer, here’s a guy over 100 who just wrote a novel.

—//–

Neil Simon, one of our most famous playwrights, died recently at age 91.  This article notes that he had to adapt as our culture changed, a lesson for all writers.

Victories

Randy has the proof copy of his book.  He is scheduled for Sept 22 pre-release signing in Bellevue.

Aime has started on a mission to read all of Vonnegut’s books.

Education

Here are several authors giving advice on writing.  And another list of lessons learned by 27 authors.

Upcoming Schedule

Sept 6
Nick
Stacie
Amie-discussion of writer’s block

Sept 13
Amie
Open slots

Sept 20
Laura
Open slots

Sept 27
Open slots

Oct 4
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 30, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 30th, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Here’s a discussion of  word origins, from Africa into English.

–//–

An author shows that a lot of the history you learned isn’t very objective and has affected a lot of people, again demonstrating that writing has great power.

Victories

Aime submitted to a call for stories.

Randy ordered the proof copy of Sins of Omission.

Education

You may at some time get the opportunity to pitch your work in person to an agent or someone else who can help your chances of getting published.  Here are some questions you might not have thought to prepare answers for.

What questions should you research before meeting an agent, and ask them if necessary?  Here’s a large collection of links for dealing with agents.

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 30
Aime
Stacie
Randy (short)

Sept 6
Nick
Open slots

Sept 13
Open slots

Sept 20
Open slots

Sept 27
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill

The Noble Pen for Aug 23, 2018

Next Noble Pen Meeting

August 23rd, 2018 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

News

Ciuin is organizing a group table to sell books on Sept 15 at an event in Tipton.  There may be a small entry fee to split.  Contact her if you are interested in helping, or in sending books.

–//–

They say that a variety of experience helps make a writer, but this is carrying things too far.  It might be better to research bank robberies on line.

Victories

Stacie is at 60k words on her novel, which started out as a short story and just grew.

Aime is doing a beta read for someone.

Randy’s book is back from both editors.  He beta read Dylan’s Flight.

Dylan has Flight only a couple steps from publication.  He is a featured writer on the Ello social network.

Education

It seems like most of us have difficulty finding time to write.  This article suggests that you make the best use of scattered moments through out the day to make notes of ideas for plot, character, and scenes.  Here’s a list of possible times to think about your story. Use your phone or other gadgets to capture those notes while driving.  Or as one member does, think through your plots while exercising.

When you do sit down to write, you may find it best to just capture the ideas and not worry about cleaning it up.  Keep editing as a separate (but necessary) task so you don’t slow down the creative process.

Do whatever it takes to make sure that when you sit down to write, you don’t get distracted.  Some people keep an old computer, off net, just for writing so they aren’t distracted by email and F*ceb**k.   If you’re going to want a cup of tea, make it before sitting down so you don’t interrupt yourself to get it.

Here are 10 tips on productivity and another series of tips by a prolific writer.

Upcoming Schedule

Aug 23
Logan
Ciuin
Stacie

Aug 30
Aime
Stacie (would cede)
Open slot

Sept 6
Nick
Open slots

Sept 13
Open slots

Sept 20
Open slots

Keep Writing,
Bill