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A MONTHLY MAGAZINE TO INTEREST AND HELP ALL LITERARY WORKERS
Recently I have encountered several productions of a popular writer in periodicals rather outside my usual field of reading. They attracted my attention and led me on, until presently I began to feel a certain dragging sensation. The cause was not at first apparent. The characters were interesting, if rather repellent; there was plenty of the "action" so strenuously demanded by constituencies of the better sort, and the dialogue had a sparkle, even if it was somewhat hard and metallic in its glitter.
It was in the dialogue that the drag was most felt, and further analysis discovered
Still your jolly self," greeted C.
"It's a wonder they don't square themselves," chatted D.
In another of the stories are these choice bits:
"I know his kind," fondly remembered E. "Why should n't he?" scorned F. "It's a lie!" perfunctorily denied G. And these in still another : "Very thoughtful of you," dryly thanked H.
He can win her love," she faintly surrendered.
These are but a few of a host of expressions which grated on my mental ear and distracted attention from the story itself. A husked." Why husked? Does the word contain some recondite allusion to the oldtime barn and bee and red ear and pretty Or does it mean that A was girl? "husky" person and spoke in a loud tone of voice? Or can it be an abortive attempt to intimate that his voice was hoarse? If so. why not say "hoarsed A"?
After a careful examination, I believe I have reached the true diagnosis. The trouble of this writer and those like him is an acute case of logophobia. They dread the sight of the good old word said" as a hydrophobic patient dreads water. But why? It is an eminently useful and even respectable word, one which our best authors have not feared nor disdained to employ, and employ freely. Taking down a volume of Thackeray, for instance, and opening it at random, I note that he does, indeed, use synonyms "says," "cries," "shouts," remarks," " continues," bawls," "asks," etc. - all of which, fairly implying, as they do, the idea of saying, are
perfectly legitimate. But he does not deal in such monstrosities as are quoted above. Indeed, he is not above writing "said" with half a dozen speeches in succession. Furthermore, in Scott's "Ivanhoe" we meet "said " eight or even nine times on a single page, and in Hall Caine's "Manxman" it occurs eleven times in twelve successive speeches. Nor is Jane Austen more timid in employing the simple word from which this writer shrinks with such loathing.
Of contemporary authors, few have used the language more effectively than Rudyard Kipling, yet he seems to have been hopelessly ignorant of the new canon. In his short story, "At the End of the Passage," selected wholly at random, the abhorrent "said" occurs seventy-three times about once every hundred words as against only thirteen occurrences of substitutes. Inci
dentally, we may note that the simple "said" is found eight times on one page of about 370 words. Like examples may be found in our own Poe, and even in Howells.
Undue repetition of any word is, of course, to be avoided, but why fly to the opposite extreme? Why so evidently go out of your way to escape the natural expression? The very effort defeats itself, and frequently where "said" would pass without notice the forced substitute obtrudes itself to the distraction of the reader.
If the word "obsession" were not so sadly overworked just now, I should apply it to this fad this setting up of a new literary fetish. Of course, it is not affected even now by writers of the first class, though it is, unfortunately, by a few whose popularity for the moment gives it vogue. CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. H. M. Kingery.
ALMOST A MAGAZINE WRITER.
In college I never had the least inclination to "make the crew." I was a pale, slender girl that specialized in English and pulsated with Magazine Writer thrills.
When I graduated I could detect at sight the difference behind a novelette and a short-story (thanks to Professor Brander Matthews for the hyphen) and I could microscopically dissect the essay and the sketch, romantic and realistic fiction, dramatic and narrative poetry and I owned a glistening typewriter of my very own, with a tinkletinkle beil.
From my steam-heated study, where I had dictionaries and encyclopaedias and synonyms and antonyms strewn around me, I sent forth to magazine editors quires and quires of linen bond covered with platitudes strung grammatically together. manuscripts promptly came back, with the regulation printed rejection slip, and crowded
themselves through the letter-box slit in the front door with a resisting scrape that proclaimed their thickness and profundity.
At that period of my rejection-slip career I did not acknowledge even a bowing acquaintance with my own soul. I had heard that I had one, but my intimacy with the Venerable Bede was closer. At the end of the first year of perpetual writing, when the earnings from my machine footed up something less than fifty cents a week, I came to the conclusion that Father ought to begin to draw dividends on his investment in my college education and literary equipment. Then I suddenly remembered the explosive words of one of my professors :
"You need to get outdoors and live. LIVE-I tell you."
And I wondered (shut up in my steamheated study with my humiliating account book in front of me) what it might mean
to live. For the first time it then came over me that perhaps I was suffering from an acute attack of cerebral indigestion.
I determined to find the antidote !
I joined the staff of a daily newspaper as a reporter quite a courageous act for a pale, slender girl attuned to silken linings in her tailored skirts.
On that daily paper I learned a good deal - learned from three in the afternoon to two in the morning. I learned to go when called, not to answer back, to take all sorts of assignments without question, to endure tobacco smoke and to feel at home with hats-on and feet-on-the-table. I learned to turn out hack work on yellow paper from a clattering typewriter with a falsetto bell, letting split infinitives gap and dangling participles flounder.
But somehow, while I was certainly in contact with a great big slice of life, yet I was just as much of a puppet - just as undeveloped.
I knew it! So I spent most of my salary on cold cream to suck the dust out of pores and sachet bags to tuck inside my linings, lest might forget I was ever feminine in gender, and amid the clatter and racket I held myself apart and waited for my cue. One day it came !
The bottom fell out of Father's business. He had to gather up the frayed ends of his fortune and start the weave of another pattern.
And that was when Ia pale, slender girl with Magazine-Writer thrills-turned the bend in the road.
I had to lay aside my tailored suits and don print house-dresses. I had to take over the care of the house. I had to do the washing and the scrubbing and the cleaning and the cooking, and I had to nurse my Mother and cheer my courageous Fatherand bravely smile.
It was not easy to smile when my back ached with its unaccustomed strain, and my oval nails chipped into irregularity, and my white hands reddened, and my dreams of becoming a Magazine-Writer faded into a mist.
But when I looked out of the window and
And I wondered, there on the sidewalk, if that curbstone scene might not be a touch of the LIFE that the professor had meant. I went home-to the kitchen. While the dinner was cooking, I wrote wrote with a scrap of a pencil on a flattened-out paper bag, without a thought of barbarisms, improprieties, or solecisms. And that night, I jammed the pillows against the head of the bed and slumped my aching spine into them and I copied that first draft in longhand just as it stood.
The next morning I sent it off!
Three days later I got a letter bearing the address of the publication up in the lefthand corner. It was a small letter, thin and editorial. I sank down on the hall-rug while I read it, the check that had fallen out unheeded in my lap :
'We take pleasure in accepting your 'Vignette of the Curbstone' for publication in an early issue. We congratulate you on its trueness to LIFE."
They had capitalized the LIFE.
Then I knew.
At last my soul had found me out. And there in the hall, under the letter-box slit, I clasped my tired hands together and gave thanks. Alice Spencer Geddes.
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P. O. Box 1905.
Henry Arthur Jones, author of "Mary Goes First," which is now running at the Playhouse, in London, is threatened with an action in libel, by George Whichelow, a leather manufacturer, of Bermondsey, on the ground that a character in the play named Whichello, also a leather manufacturer, is a caricature of himself. Mr. Jones not only had no intention of libelling Mr. Whichelow, but he had never heard of him.
Injustice of this kind, however, is not confined to England. A scene in a play called "The Lure," produced in New York, represents the office of an employment agency. Now the United States Employment Agents' Association has applied to the court for an injunction, on the ground that it is libeled by the play.
According to Canon Hannay ("George A. Birmingham"), the requirements of an author are the instinct to play with words, an intense and curious interest in life, and the ability to understand life from a detached point of view. This is worthy of the attention of the ambitious. A strong desire to write a book" is not enough.
Unnatural dialogue in a novel is a serious defect. A conspicuous example of it is found in Hamlin Garland's melodramatic story, "Cavanagh: Forest Ranger." The hero of the story is reporting to his superior by telephone the discovery of a particularly brutal murder. His chief asks: "Is that
you, Ross? What's the matter? voice sounds hoarse." Ross, the book says, composed himself, and told his story briefly. "I'm at Kettle Ranch post-office. Now listen. The limit of the cattlemen's ferocity has been reached. As I rode down here, to get into communication with a doctor for a sick herder, I came upon the scene of another murder and burning. The fire is still smouldering; at least two bodies are in the embers." Perhaps this explains incidentally why Ham
J. D. Beresford, author of the story, "The Imperturbable Duchess," in Harper's Magazine for August, and also of the novel, Goslings," just published by the Macaulay Company, was born near Peterboro, England, forty years ago. School days over, he was articled to an architect, and spent a number of years drawing plans. He did an immense amount of reading at this time and also some writing, which, however, he ultiniately destroyed. He has done, and still does, a lot of reviewing for leading papers. His first novel was "The Early History of Jacob Stahl," published in America by Little, Brown, & Company, in 1911. This was followed by "The Hampdenshire Wonder" and "A Candidate for Truth," published in this country by Little, Brown, & Company, in
Marguerite Putnam Bush, who wrote the story, "The Demoralization of Mrs. Barton's Dinner," published in Lippincott's for October, was born in Boston and lived there until her marriage, when she removed to New York. She now makes her home in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Mrs. Bush has written fiction spasmodically since her girlhood, but for several years trouble with her eyes kept her from writing, and then she devoted her time exclusively to the study of style for two or three years. At first she wrote in collaboration and under a pen name, but for some years now she has been writing alone and signing her own name to her stories. Altogether she has published a hundred stories, more or less. These have appeared in the Youth's Companion, St. Nicholas, the Ladies' Home Journal, the Atlantic Monthly, Lippincott's, Smith's, and other magazines.
Norma Bright Carson, whose poem, "A Poet to His Love," appeared in Lippincott's
for September, is the editor of the Book News Monthly. She is the daughter of Joseph C. and Emma (Moore) Bright, and was born in Philadelphia, in 1883. She was graduated from the Girls' High School in Philadelphia in 1901, and in 1906 she married Robert Carson, of Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland. She is the author of "The Dream Child and Other Poems," published in 1905; "From Irish Castles to French Chateaux," published in 1910, and "The Nature Fairies," published in 1911, and her new book this year will be "In the Kingdom of the Future," a small volume published by the G, H. Doran Company.
Marion Short, whose poem, "Little Puff o' Wind," was published in the Youth's Companion for October 2, is perhaps best known by her series of stories concerning the Cochran family, now appearing almost every month in Smith's Magazine. The first of the stories, The Famous Cochran Children,” which appeared in 1911, has been followed by others dealing with Verdant Cochran, a child violinist, her parents and her younger sister, and their patrons and fellow-professionals. Miss Short has had poems published in the Cavalier, Holland's Magazine, the New York Herald, Puck, and the International, and stories in the Black Cat, the Red Book, Holland's Magazine, and other periodicals.
T. J. Thomas, whose story of "The Runaway Steamer appeared in the Wide World Magazine for October, has been contributing regularly to the Wide World for three years. His first professional work was as cartoonist on the staff of the Cleveland World, and he became virtually a literary conscript when, during a shortage of reporters, he was pressed into service to help "cover" a big story that happened to be "breaking." Gradually he gave up his cartoon work and became a member of the reporting staff. During the ten years that followed his abandonment of pen-and-ink work, Mr. Thomas worked on the staffs of various