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THE WRITER is published the first day of every month. It will be sent, post-paid, ONE YEAR for ONE Dollar.
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feature of our experience more pathetic and disagreeable," he says, "than to deal fairly and frankly with the young writers who appeal to us for recognition and for compensation for their contributions. In almost every case there is no good warrant for the aspiration which the would-be contributor entertains. The conviction is forced upon us more strongly each year that only the very few are able to write so as to interest and impress the average reader of our columns. And for the young writer to cherish the hope that it may be possible to subsist from the fruit of the pen is an absurd and hopeless delusion."
It may be true that very many of those who send manuscripts to the Congregationalist are hopelessly incompetent, and it certainly is true that the average young writer can have no hope whatever of maintaining himself wholly by his contributions to pure literature, but it is not right for the Congregationalist to take such a discouraging view of the possibilities in the literary field. It is hard to see, also, why it should be a pathetic and disagreeable task for an editor to deal frankly and fairly with incompetent young writers. Most editors do not seem to be overburdened by consideration for the feelings of their contributors, and there is really no reason why they should be. If a manuscript is unavailable, an editor can usually discover the fact with very little labor, and in such cases the practice of the Congregationalist is merely to return the manuscript to the sender, accompanied by a printed slip. That experience certainly ought not to make the editor particularly sad. He may feel sorry for his incompetent contributor, but in the hurry and rush of daily work, the unfortunate is inevitably soon forgotten, and all of the editor's labor cannot be pathetic, since there really are some able writers who send manuscripts to the Congregationalist, as the columns of the paper weekly show.
As for the broad statement that "in almost every case there is no warrant for the aspiration which the would-be contributor entertains," it seems a good deal wider than it really ought to be. The belief of THE WRITER, on the contrary, is that the average of excellence among
beginners in writing was never so high before as it is at the present time. Nearly everybody writes fairly well, nowadays, and while the number of those who have transcendent literary genius may be as small as it ever was, one important reason why beginners in writing do not meet with better success financially is, that they have so many fairly well qualified competitors. No young writer, however, who writes because he feels that he has something to say, should be discouraged either by the number of his competitors or by the doubt of financial profit. As for writers who write because they want to say something, the sooner they quit the better for all concerned; but the writers who really have a mission ought not to be discouraged by anybody's gloomy advice. Every famous writer was a beginner once, and if he had not begun, he would not be famous now. Sometimes a beginner makes fairly good wages at the very start. Mrs. Humphry Ward, for instance, has published only three books, but she is said to have made $80,000 from "David Grieve," $80,000 from "Marcella," and $40,000 from "Robert Elsmere." THE WRITER will not vouch for the accuracy of these statistics, but there is no question that Mrs. Ward's work, although she is a beginner, has been financially very profitable to her.
Of course, the average young writer cannot reasonably hope for any such good fortune, but if he writes because he has something to say, and not because he wants to say something, he has a good chance of fair remuneration for his work. It is foolish, as the Congregationalist says, for a young writer to hope to support himself wholly by literary work, but literary work often brings a very pleasant addition to an income derived regularly from some other source. The school teacher, for instance, who makes from $50 to $100 a year by writing for various periodicals finds the money a useful addition to her income, although she may now and then give the editor of the Congregationalist a pathetic and disagreeable experience, perhaps, by sending him a story which he does n't like. The work is pleasant to her, too, and, gaining facility with practice, she may, if she has talent,
very likely increase her income from writing until she is enabled to give up school teaching. entirely in time. Let every beginner, then, who has a story to tell, of whatever kind, tell his story as well as he knows how, and try its fortune with the editorial guild. If he expects fame and fortune at the start, disappointment will probably be his fate; but if he is reasonable in his expectations, he has on the whole as good a chance, perhaps, as the editor of the Congregationalist himself had, in the vanished long ago, when he began.
Some time ago attention was called to the value of THE WRITER to authors as a means of keeping informed about the important news of the literary market. Since then a letter has been received from Albert E. Lawrence, in which he says:
I have found THE WRITER very helpful, and one feature I wish to speak of particularly that of noticing prize offers. Through it I learned of the New York Observer prize offers last winter, and the story which I submitted was given half of the second prize money. I hope you will continue this feature and make the most of it.
Suspensions of periodicals and changes of address, as well as offers of prizes, are announced in THE WRITER, much to the advantage of its readers. One subscriber writes that the announcements of the suspension of different periodicals saved him in postage last year several times the subscription price of the magazine.
W. H. H.
A GUIDE TO THE MS. MARKET. A book that will become extremely useful to the young climber on the literary ladder may be made at home. The knowledge contained therein may be the result of experience, or it may be obtained from less expensive sources.
The book should be, originally, a blank-book, with pages of generous width. It should be divided into departments for Literary, Religious, Floral, Domestic, Agricultural, and other publications; and to each publication should be allotted four or five lines.
Upon the first line in each case should be written the name and address of the publication; on the second, a memorandum of the style and length of article preferred by it; on the third, information about the prices paid- whether
payment by word, line, column, or article, and ⚫ when payment is made; whether on acceptance, on publication, monthly, quarterly, or halfyearly; on the fourth, notes about the general treatment given to contributors, etc.; the fifth line is left blank for the addition of items of which one may come into possession from time to time.
The publications should be listed in their several departments according to their merits and literary standing.
In preparing an article for the publications in any department, the beginner should seek to write for the best one in the list, conforming to its requirements, and reaching its standard, if possible. Then, if, after a careful study of the completed article, comparing it with those in the publication for which it was prepared, the writer decides that it is worthy to be sent to that one, let it be sent there. If it is returned, it may be offered to the next, and it is quite certain unless the author is a conceited donkey, and has written utter trash- to find a market before it reaches the bottom of the list. With such a book, and by following the above method, a writer may be saved many stamps and much disappointment in the course of a year. Beth Day.
SOUTH KAUKAUNA, Wis.
[Questions relating to literary work or literary topics will be answered in this department. Questions must be brief, and of general interest. Questions on general topics should be directed elsewhere.]
(1.) If a manuscript should be declined by Harper & Brothers, for instance, and it should then be sent to Charles Scribner's Sons, is there a possibility that the manuscript would be referred by them to the same Readers who had previously examined it? In other words, do different publishers sometimes employ the same manuscript Readers, or does each publisher have his own separate corps?
(2.) What do advertisement writers generally charge for short "paragraphical" advertisements, sometimes written in prose and sometimes in poetry? C. J.
[(1.) There is a possibility that two successive publishers might refer a manuscript to the
Bemis, son of the renowned author of "Nothing," who died in 1928, was a misogynist.
so as to make it plain whether it was Bemis or his father who died in 1928? A. O'K. [There is nothing ambiguous about the following sentence:
Bemis, who was the son of the renowned author of "Nothing," and who died in 1928, was a misogynist.
To show that the man who died was Bemis' father, the sentence might be written:
Bemis - the son of the renowned author of " died in 1928- was a misogynist.
Kellogg in the July WRITER. An excellent illustration of the rule is afforded by the following sentence, which I came across in a story yesterday: "He was a noble fellow wonderfully versatile, brave, and generous to a fault." If you omit the comma after brave, you say that the hero in question was brave to a fault, which is not what the author meant. Again, take this sentence: "For dinner he had lobster and vinegar, and cherries, and terrapin, and bread and milk." All the commas used are absolutely essential, to give an accurate idea of the tempting repast. It will be observed that the use of "and" does not make the commas unnecessary, a sufficient answer to the assertion sometimes made that the comma after the second adjective in a group of three of which the last two are connected by "and" is unnecessary because the "and" takes the place of it. In cases where no ambiguity would arise, however, as Wilson, in his "Treatise on Punctuation," says: "When three or more words of the same part of speech, and in the same construction, are severally connected by means of 'and,' 'or,' or 'nor,' the comma may be omitted after each of the particulars. Some writers separate all such serial words by commas; but a mode of punctuation so stiff as this seldom aids in developing the sense, and, in sentences requiring other commas, is undoubtedly offensive to the eye, if it does not obscure the meaning itself."
W. H. H.
"Besides this, none of the routes come into the heart of the city, and so they do not afford," etc. -"Newspaper English Edited," in August Writer.
"None come " is pretty poor editing. Come off your hypercritical perch, and learn to write grammar before jumping on a merely careless writer, like the one who wrote the second paragraph, in the Chicago despatch.
David A. Curtis.
[ Bigelow, in his "Mistakes in Writing English," says: 666 'None,' although literally meaning 'no one,' may be used with a plural verb, having the significance of a noun of multitude." Illustrations are: Milton's "In at this gate none pass the vigilance here placed "; Proverbs ii: 19: "None that go unto her return again "; Byron's "None are so desolate, but something dear," etc.; Blair's "None of their productions
are extant"; and Young's "None think the great unhappy but the great." Long, in his แ Slips of Tongue and Pen," says: "'None' and any,' though originally singular, may now be used as plurals." So far as Mr. Curtis' second criticism is concerned, most of the faults in newspaper English are due to carelessness. Probably the writer of the Boston Herald editorial about the elevated railway routes would have corrected his bad English, if he had carefully revised his manuscript.]
W. H. H.
THE NOVEL - WHAT IT IS. By F. Marion Crawford. pp. Cloth, 75 cents. New York: Macmillan & Co. 1893. When novelists write about their art, they do not usually give their readers much information about their methods, but they now and then give hints which are useful as suggestions to those who are studying the art of story-writing. Mr. Crawford's essay on the novel is no exception to this rule. Perhaps, therefore, the best review of it will be a selection of sentences from it, more or less connected, giving Mr. Crawford's ideas about the technique of his art. "A novel," he says, "is a marketable commodity, of the class collectively termed 'luxuries' an intellectual artistic luxury. Probably no one denies that the first object of the novel is to amuse and interest the reader. The purpose-novel constitutes a violation of the unwritten contract tacitly existing between writer and reader. A man buys what purports to be a work of fiction, a romance, a story of adventure, pays his money, takes his book home, prepares to enjoy it at his ease, and discovers that he has paid a dollar for somebody's views on socialism, religion, or the divorce laws. In ordinary cases the purpose-novel is a simple fraud, besides being a failure in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand. professed novelist is perhaps not a competent judge of novels from the point of view which interests the reader, and which is, of course, the reader's own. We know the technique of the trick better than the effect it pro
duces. We do not all know one another's tricks, but we have a fair idea of the general principle on which they are done. A novel is, after all, a play. It is a bad sign of the times, that persons who would not tolerate a coarse play read novels little, if at all, short of indecent. It is not always easy to see why we novelists occasionally introduce a thought, a page, or a chapter in a novel otherwise fit for a child's ears, which may have the effect, so to say, of turning weak tea into bad whiskey. Yet most of us have done it, contemplate doing it, or at least go so far as to wish that we might allow ourselves the liberty. It looks as if it might be easier to write interesting books with the help of the knowledge of evil, as well as with the help of the knowledge of good; and after a certain number of years of hard work a novelist instinctively leans toward any method of lightening his labors which presents itself to his tired imagination. For the romance of romancing soon disappears. After the production of one, two, three, or half-a-dozen novels, if the writer is really what we call 'a professional,' and must go on writing as a business, he discovers how serious is the occupation in which he is engaged. Half-a-dozen books, or less, will make a reputation; ten will sustain one; twenty are in ordinary cases a career. Does any one, not an author, who reads these lines guess at the labor, the imagination, the set purpose, the courage, which are necessary to produce a score of novels of an average good quality? And if not, how can he understand the intense longing for a removal of restraint, for a little more liberty, that tempts the over-wrought intelligence into error? The taste for realism is broad; but why must a novel writer be either a realist or a romanticist? Why should a good novel not combine romance and reality in just proportions? novel The perfect must deal chiefly with love; for in that passion all men and women are most generally interested. It must be clean and sweet; it must have the magic to fascinate and the power to hold its reader from first to last. Its realism must be real, of three dimensions, not flat and photographic; its romance must be of the human heart and truly human; that is, of the earth as we all have found it; its realism must be transcendent, not measured to man's mind, but proportioned to man's soul. Its religion must be of such grand and universal span as to hold all worthy religions in itself. Conceive, if possible, such a story, told in language that can be now simple, now keen, now passionate, and now sublime- or rather, pray, do not conceive it, for the modern novelist's occupation would suddenly be gone, and that one book would stand alone of its kind, making all others worse than useless ridiculous, if not sacrilegious, by com