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character only; (3) which reveals the setting should be borne in mind. The novel may only; (4) which reveals only the theme or successfully appeal
single reading the single effect.
public; the short story must appeal to many. (5) A philosophical overture. (Anticipatory Again, the popular magazine shuns every generalizations without action.)
topic which deviates much from the tastes Indirect action: (6) Which reveals setting, of the supposed majority of the class or characters, and the theme or single effect; classes to which it appeals. Because of this, (7) which reveals character only; (8) which three types of short stories are unsuited to reveals the setting only; (9) which reveals the average magazine: Satire, allegory, and only the theme or single effect; (10) pure the “fate drama." The “fate drama' is description. (No action and no anticipatory the opposite of the “uplift story,” after generalizations.)
which so many editors are sighing. Mau“In comparison with the opening, the passant's “ The Piece of String would closing event is no problem at all. The probably have been rejected by most Amerivariety of endings is much less, and one's can magazines, because it is not pleasant choice is not supremely important. Further- reading. “ Most men and women are a little more, the material is more plastic, and may depressed by the thought that they are not be experimented upon freely without in- the captains of their souls, and they do not volving radical changes in the body of the wish to pay fifteen cents, still less thirty-five, story. There are three types of endings: (a) for the depression. They get more than The direct dénouement; (b) the significant enough of it gratis every day. They read aftermath; (c) intepretative comment. The fiction, especially magazine fiction, either for direct dénouement is the ideal finish of the pure pleasure or else for agreeable informal pure dramatic story. ... I cannot drop this instruction.” Still, the "fate drama " is topic without urging the student to study much loved and attempted by beginners. carefully the maturer stories of O. Henry, They should bear in mind that the magazine who surpasses all writers past and present short story specializes in entertaining, not in his mastery of the direct dénouement. in conveying ideas. The fashion of magaWhat a host of his complications do not zine fiction has changed greatly in a generasolve themselves until the last fifty words!" tion. No longer may the story writer insert
The author's point of view involves the a moral disquisition in the midst of a love question of style, which, Mr. Pitkin says, is
“ He must write straight drama, in the first sense the result of mastering weaving his thesis into it so deftly that he story technique; in the second sense, the inseminates your mind without your knowing result of mastering grammar and rhetoric; it. . If he cannot accomplish this he fails aland, in the third sense, the result of the together. But if he can, even imperfectly, artist's attitude toward his material and all his influence will exceed by a hundred-fold that pertains to it.
that of the old-school author-preacher. Atmosphere in story writing is the Many a high school graduate of the rising emotional flavor of the place and time in generation can grind out stories of the which the dramatic events unfold. “Many Varia Edgeworth stamp, but only a skilled students,” says Mr. Pitkin, "get the notion and facile mind could produce a fictionthat environment is atmosphere; and so they
which a good modern magazine fall into the technical blunder of trying to would publish.” produce atmosphere by elaborate descrip- On the side of technique in story writing, tions of scenery. Their belief is false and VIr. Pitkin says: “An entertaining article their practice only occasionally sound." might be written on the business devices now
The business of the short story, reduced employed by professional short story writers; to its simplest terms, is a “problem of three the card catalogue, the follow-up system,' bodies": (a) The reading public; (b) the whereby one story which has pleased a public author, and (c) the publisher. One thing is announced as the first of a series; the
news clipping bureau, through which the Of the many resulting plots, usually the two specialist in high society stories receives raw or three best will alone prove worthy of material and the specialist in detective tales writing; the rest go into the waste basket. receives his matter, finished except in its Roughly speaking, there are two types of dramatic form; and so on.
But it is not combination. First, you may invent a situaimportant to instruct the learner in all these tion, and then, keeping it unaltered, put tricks of the trade. . . . Nine stories out different people into it and compare their of every ten are suggested, in one manner behavior. Or, secondly, you may begin with or another, by real episodes, and the variety a definite person - or with a character trait of real episodes in any field or of any flavor and you may try it out in many situais immeasurably richer than the range of any tions, seeking that one which brings out one man's fancy. These two indisputable most vividly the chosen quality of human facts set the first rule of specialization, which nature. Not until you have gone through is this: Get in touch with some phase of these operations several times will you life; become intimate with something that is realize how prodigious is the host of widely going on in the world. They also shape the differing stories which lurks potentially in a second rule, which is this: Study one, and single character or in one situation. And only one, emotional quality of your chosen after you have experimented much, you will phase of life, for a long time.
perhaps turn the method to profit, by finding “ Each learner should aim to order his a character and a small field of situations work so as to produce the largest possible which yield a dozen, or even a score, of number of fairly good stories about his stories. This is the richest of all finds. For special subject. The lower grade of fiction each story in such a series helps to sell the produced in the course of practice generally next, and -- what is still more valuable -- the finds a market, albeit a cheap one. On the collection will be accepted more eagerly for other hand, heavy production of carefully publication in book form than a miscellany worked out second and third rate stories will. Almost every prominent professional indubitably hastens toward the high goal of writer of brief fiction to-day is producing every artist; namely, toward that degree of such series; there is scarcely a magazine that proficiency at which technical manipulations is not always seeking them, and there are become habits.
The first moment of few fiction publishers who are not making genuine artistry arrives when the writer be- favorable offers for the book rights. Thus gins to use, without thinking of them, all the stories sell twice, bringing double profit; the cautions and principles which we have they associate the author's name with a been discussing in this book. A few fortu- familiar character or theme and thereby add nates early acquire this ease without orderly to his reputation, and, through the experihelp. To them technical instruction seems menting they force him to, they ripen his futile. They say they cannot think of the technical skill wonderfully. thousand and one precepts, nor do they have “ There remains one practical question: to. This is true. Technique is only a means What are the story writer's prospects? The to establishing habits of behavior. Once the answer is hard; for, when all is said and latter are in full swing, thought of the done, the chief factors of
and mechanism drops out.”
failure are the individual and his opporIn connection with incessant exercise there tunity, both of which defy rules and calculais one task which surprisingly few beginners tion. There are fashions in fiction, as everydischarge, and that is imaginative experi- body knows; they are sometimes as caprimenting. “Now, what is imaginative ex- cious as the fashions in women's rigging. perimenting? Well, it consists in the de- The last decade has seen the story of the liberate manufacture of many combinations stupid life (miscalled realistic fiction) give of characters and situations, in various way to half a dozen more thrilling types, orders and with various dramatic movements. such as the high-life story, the muck-raking
story, the whimsical story of every-day life, and even the story of high adventure (which Stevenson revived with such exquisite — even
exquisite — touch, and which to-day Jeffrey Farnol and others shabbily counterieiting). The change of fashions affects only the relative cash value of the different types of stories. What the hour approves is worth from two cents a word upward (there being no maximum). The untimely story, however beautiful, brings newspaper rates or even less (except when the value of the author's name is added to it, or when the author turns it in on contract). Now, even the best writer cannot produce steadily fine specimens of the more profitable style; and the fairly skilful one may count himself fortunate if he can hit it off once in four tries. Hence there are only two roads to money-making: The author may make his few fine stories so very fine that they earn him a reputation which will be added in dollars and cents to his less admired output; or, on the other hand, he may invent an enormous number of stories, write them without much attention to finish, and make 'quick sales and small profits.' Most professional writers choose the second course in the beginning of their careers, and by sheer bulk of production acquire a facile technique, a of story values and public taste, and a variety of information about life which, sooner or later, enable them to enter upon the other, pleasanter path. This may not be the course of genius, but it is that of the craftsman.
* In the light of all this we may estimate the writer's chances of success as follows: The earning power of an author depends upon three factors: (1) His sympathy with contemporary tastes and thought; (2) the quantity of his monthly output; and (3) the ease of his technique. A marked decrease in any one of these must be offset by an increase in one or both of the others, if success is to be assured. Figures dangerous here, but I venture to say that the person who, after a thorough study of technique, cannot write every month at least
two stories of average magazine length (4.500 words, say) should not aspire to become a professional. I do not say that he must be able to sell two stories a month, nor that all that he writes at this speed shall wholly please him. The measure is adjusted only to his narrative composition. If he can hold the pace, he probably has his technique well enough in hand to justify further efforts, and also his imagination is likely to be moderately vigorous. If he cannot hold it, he still may join the great majority, who write occasionally. This course may turn out to be quite advantageous.
If a school teacher, let us say, can sell only five good stories a year, that adds from five hundred dollars to a thousand or more to the annual income.”
To the story writer Mr. Pitkin says: “Form some habit of regular work. What it shall be you alone can decide, only let it be strenuous. Probably four hours of writing every day is the least you should content yourself with during the years in which you are mastering technique. Shun classic literature as a source of story ideas. Study it only for the pleasure of it, and for information about technique and rhetoric. Read current magazines carefully, even those which you dislike. Watch the work of the
successful writers. Compare their themes with those which are being discussed by essayists, journalists, politicians, social workers, and other men of the world. Ob
to what extent fiction draws upon science, reform, and practical affairs for its underlying thoughts. Keep some record of every story idea that pops into your head, no matter how silly, or highflown, or clumsy it may be in its original form. Infinite are the possibilities of combining, weaving, and twisting thoughts, and what the result will be no man can foretell. Some great stories have had trivial, even ludicrous origin."
These extracts and abstracts give some idea of the value of Mr. Pitkin's book. Its philosophy is practical, and those who are ambitious to do good work in story writing may study it with profit. Boston, Mass.
to subscribers who are more than a year in arrears, unless there has been a payment or a request for renewal and a definite promise of payment. Subscribers for The WRITER, therefore, are asked to look at the address label on the wrapper of the magazine. If the date on the label is earlier than April, 1912, it is necessary for them to send a remittance, or a request to continue sending the magazine, with a definite promise of payment. Will subscribers kindly give this matter their immediate attention ?
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The only good jokes, according to the Christian Science Monitor, are those that do not, intentionally unintentionally, wound the sensibilities of any person or of any class, that do not bring into ridicule things held sacred by any person or by any class, that do not openly or covertly belittle the affection, faith, hope, aspirations, or idealisms of any person or of any class, that are not vicious, impure, unfeeling, or vulgar in their tendencies. These limitations apply not only to jokes, but to literary work in general.
The rewards of authorship are not always limousines and terrapin. We hear a good deal about the success of writers who demand and get -- sometimes - a thousand dollars or more for a short story, and of others whose books sell to the number of hundreds of thousands of copies, with a roya ty on every one, but the experience of the unsuccessful author, or of the author who is only moderately successful, is seldom set forth in print. One of this latter class, an Englishman, who calls himself “a minor novelist,” has recently told the tale of his career, and it certainly is not encouraging. In 1899, he wrote his first book, which consisted of about 100,000 words. It was refused by seventeen publishers, but
the eighteenth publisher to whom he offered it paid him $225 for the copyright. With expenses deducted this amounted to about $175, but for his second book he got $250. It took him a year to sell his third book, for
The post-office regulations now forbid the sending, at second-class rates, of periodicals
serial now running in Lieutenant-Governor Barratt O'Hara's Chicago Magazine, and the Green Book will soon bring out one of her stories. Miss Evans says that this does n't sound interesting, but that it has been.
which he received $150, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth books were sold for about the
amount. One of his later books brought him more than $750, but another, published afterward on the royalty plan, paid him no more than $100. Altogether in thirteen years he has produced fourteen novels published and three unpublished, with total receipts of about $3,230, or a little less than two hundred and fifty dollars a year. Deducting the cost of typewriting and postage, his fourteen novels have not brought him two hundred dollars apiece. He would not have got even $3,230 in fourteen years if he had not had the luck to serialize three of his novels, the price for serial rights in one case amounting to five hundred dollars. In all probability he has not won much fame, although he says his first book was sold out very quickly in England, and two impressions were disposed of in this country. Is it any wonder that he has announced his intention now of giving up literature and setting up as driver of a taxicab?
Henry E. Haydock, whose articles, “ The Ruby-throated Humming-bird,” in Country Life in America ; “The Phoebe Bird,” in Suburban Life ; “ The Chickadee,” in Young People ; and “ Birds and the Garden," in Farm and Home, have appeared during the past year,.is a great lover of birds, and finds their companionship a source of continued and varied interest at his home on Long Island. Mr. Haydock is also a writer of short stories, which have appeared in Collier's, the Ladies' World, Pennsylvania Grit, the New York Evening Mail, the Chicago Daily News, the Boys' World, and the American Boy. He has won prizes in competition with the stories, “ The Winning Touchdown," published in Golden Days, “An Automobile Adventure," in the American Home, and “The Blue Ribbon,” in Poultry Success. His farm and poultry articles have appeared in the Farm Journal, Farm and Home, the Orange Judd Weeklies, the New York Tribune Farmer, Successful Farming, the Country Gentleman, the National Stockman and Farmer, the Fruit Grower, the American Poultry Advocate, and other publications.
W. H. H.
WRITERS OF THE DAY.
Paul Lee Ellerbe, who wrote the story, “ The Vacant Forty," published in the March Lippincott's, is a native of Alabama, twenty-nine years old, who for the last eight years has lived in Denver, where he is serve ing as naturalization examiner in the United States Department of Commerce and Labor (now the Department of Labor). “ The Vacant Forty” is the first story that he has had published.
Ida M. Evans, who had a story, entitled “An Uplifter," in the Red Book for March, was employed for several years in the wholesale millinery houses of Chicago, but three years and a half ago she began to write, and has since had stories published in the New York Sun, the People's Magazine, Short Stories, the Cavalier, the Coming Nation, Holland's Magazine, Young's Magazine, the Red Book, the Blue Book. the Black Cat. and the Chicago News. She also has a
Clara Odell Lyon, author of the story, “ The Strategy of Hezekiah John," published in Lippincott's for March, has for some time been writing rhymes and jingles, with an occasional story for children, which have appeared in such magazines as the Outlook, the Woman's Home Companion, the Youth's Companion, and St. Nicholas. Quite a number of her verses and stories have been used on the Children's Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as a number of fairy tales which she translated from the Spanish. Her first attempt at publication was a story sent to the editor of the Epworth Herald. She allowed a day for going, a day for the reading, a day for coming –