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light picture of a single stone being laid in a wall. The novel is a description of the whole building from cellar to roof."
The rapidity with which a Reader can judge a story is the result of long practice. While it is true that an expert can scan a story without reading more than a third of the words in it, he will never miss the story if the story is there.
It may be badly told, but if it is a really good story the editor will rescue it every time. He will enter into negotiations with the author to fix it up, or will buy it as it is and fix it up to suit himself. Every magazine has men employed for that purpose.
Not one in ten of the smooth reading stories that one finds in the magazines is printed as it was written. Unless they are the work of a trained writer who knows all the tricks of the trade, they have been chopped and changed around in order to ļick them into presentable shape. Unnecessary introductions have been cut off the beginning, anti-climaxes cut off the end, superAuous adjectives taken out of the middle, and descriptions of scenery removed entire.
To the writer was shown one short story, printed in McClure's, which was a first attempt on the part of its author. It had been changed four times, forty-eight superfluous words had been cut out by twos and threes at a time, and six explanatory and argumentative letters had been exchanged between author and publisher before the final proof was passed.
All this trouble over a 3,000-word story submitted by mail by an unknown author, who had never written anything before, and by a magazine that receives several hundred manuscripts a month and can command the best writers !
Why? Because the story was there, and S. S. McClure knew it the moment he saw it, and he rose to the bait like a pike. The author was one of his finds.
“What is the particular element that you imply as so desirable when you speak of the story in a manuscript ?" the writer asked Mr. McClure.
“It must be human and there must be some motive in it," he answered immedi
ately. “It may be cleverly written; but so are advertisements. Adventure and incident may be there, but if there is nothing human in it no laughter will ever shake the reader's hand, no tear will ever fall upon the page."
Many readers who were interviewed expressed the same opinion in various ways, insisting that it was this want of the human touch that caused the rejection of ninety per cent. of the stories submitted to magazines.
“A story must act on the reader's feelings as well as on his mind,” remarked one. “ It must quicken his impulses somehow. If it is a story of adventure it should be able to carry you along with it, just as the audience used to hold on to the backs of the seats in front of them when John B. Gough described the stage coach tearing down hill close to the edge of the precipice with a drunken driver on the box.
“ The habitual magazine reader remembers a story that has made him feel long after he has forgotten those that made him think."
Frank Munsey classifies stories simply by their commercial value, and puts pathos first, love second, adventure third, and humor last.
“Anyone can invent love plots and adventures,” he says, “and some men cannot put pen to paper without being humorous ; but the pathetic story is always from the heart, and if it is genuine it always reaches the heart of the reader. Those are the stories that are hard to find.”
One of the most common errors of the novice in authorship is sending his manuscripts to the wrong place. The further he is from the right place in his selection, the longer he will probably have to wait for its return. This delay and the repetition of refusals is one of the most disheartening things the author has to contend with, but it is entirely his own fault. He may imagine that all the editors have conspired against him, whereas there is nothing against him but his own lack of judgment.
The first thing that a new writer usually does is to send his story off to his favorite
magazine or to the magazine that he hears most highly spoken of. All amateur actors want to play “Hamlet” from the start. The high-class, well-known magazines, like Harper's, have to wade through more trash than any others.
“ A story was submitted to me privately by a friend of mine," said one Reader. “ The author was a young lady who did not know that I was employed on a magazine. She thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened, that story of hers. Most authors think that about their first attempts.
" She was in doubt whether to send it to Harper's or the Century, as she did not want to offend either of them by giving the other the refusal of it. After reading it over, I advised her to try it on the Wav. erley Magazine first, and not to expect any
pay for it.
“She has not spoken to me since, but I learned from a friend of hers that she sent it from one magazine to another for nearly two years, having to copy it again once or twice when it got shabby. The funny part of it was that she finally sent to the Waverley and they used it.”
There is a young woman in Brooklyn who has just brought out a book that promises to be a success. She has a classified list of magazines, beginning with those that she would like best to publish her stories, and ending with those that are better than the waste basket.
She has twenty-five magazines on this list, and every short story she writes is sent to each in turn, and upon its rejection to the next magazine in line. If the manuscript sticks anywhere on the trip, well and good. If it is rejected by the whole twenty-five, into the waste basket it goes.
While this scheme may impress some persons as clever, it is really a confession of bad judgment. It is like offering to sell carpenters' tools to twenty-five different trades, when only two or three trades use them, although all trades use tools.
Every one who hopes to be successful as a magazine writer should buy and read at least one or two numbers during the year of every magazine published, or of twenty
or thirty of the leaders. The sort of stories and articles they contain should be carefully studied.
Unless his story is of exceptional merit, which of course every author imagines it is, there are never more than four or five maga. zines that would even consider it. When magazines buy stories from authors with big names they do it for the purpose of advertising the fact that the big man is writing for that magazine, and they usually care very little for what he writes.
The secret of the success of any magazine lies in its individualitv. People come to recognize it as different from the others, and they do not feel that any other magazine will take its place.
What makes this individuality ? The editor's power of selection, his ability to pick out the stories and articles that carry out his conception of what a magazine should be. If any old story would do for any old magazine, as some writers seem to imagine, what would become of this distinctive trait ?
Unless a writer who sends a story to a magazine has studied this peculiar touch that gives the magazine its character, and has written something that fits in with it, he is simply wasting time and postage stamps.
One great cry of the novice in authorship is that the editor will not tell him what is the matter with his story when it is rejected. This is only half a truth. The editor would gladly tell him, but he knows the author would not believe it. The editor of the Popular Magazine told the writer that he once made the mistake of telling a new writer just what the matter was with his story.
The man seemed very modest and anxious to learn, and the editor told him the exact facts. Instead of being grateful for this expert criticism, which valuable, the author of the story became abusive and told the editor that he had never printed such a good story in the Popular, which was a rotten magazine anyhow, and much more to the same effect. Such authors are hopeless, because they will never learn.
John Thompson, editor of Pearson's, told the writer that one had to be more cautious
about mentioning the defects in an author's stories to the author himself than one would be about remarking upon the defects in a woman's personal appearance if she asked you about it. In fact, he thought the author would be the more vindictive of the two.
At the same time he had found, when he was sure that he was talking to the right sort of man, who would not be misunderstood, that he could put his finger on the weak spot in a story, and that more than once he had been rewarded by the author going home to think it over and bringing him just the kind of story he wanted.
John S. Phillips, of the American Magazine, tries authors out with hints, such as that the story would be improved if began at such a place instead of where the author
begins it. If the author watches the blue pencil cut its way across the page without flinching and sees his beautiful adjectives crossed out without serious objections, Mr. Phillips knows that the man will stand the gaff and be a success as a writer ; but when a man fights for a phrase and insists on a description that has nothing to do with the story, however fine it may be in itself, he is never going to do.
These editors all agree upon the one cardinal point, the writer must have a story to tell and it must be human.
Editors care little or nothing about grammar or style ; they have experts to fix that up. What they are looking for is the story that is not from the head, but from the heart. The New York Sun.
A LESSON IN TYPEWRITING.
“ Just look at that !” said the editor.
I looked. The manuscript was typewritten ; but — oh, such typewriting ! The work was faded. There was no paragraphing, no punctuation. And possibly to make up for these deficiencies ) there were, on an average, a dozen misprints to a line.
Yet the story was good, as you might discover if you had the patience to puzzle it out. Not every editor, however, has that patience.
All of which will serve as the text for a few remarks, addressed to the many who have to do their own typewriting, and are yet in the untutored stage.
There are three essentials to good typecopy.
First, the paper. This had best be medium linen, about 81-2 XII — light, but opaque. Transparent paper is to be avoided. Odd as it may seem, the busy editor does not appreciate the use of paper so thin that
he can read half a dozen pages at While a light paper saves postage, the saving is of little benefit if it results in an incidental loss of editorial patience.
Second, the typewriting machine. It should be the best you can afford. The high-priced machines are all good, and some of the cheaper makes are very serviceable. See that your machine has good alignment. The typewritten line which is all hills and dales is neither artistic nor prepossessing. The ribbon used should be new - at least, comparatively so. In large offices, where work is heavy, it is customary to change the ribbon at least once a month. It is poor economy to keep the same ribbon month after month, till it turns out work so faint that neither the editor nor any one else can read it.
Given a proper quality of paper and a good typewriter, the final requisite is a good operator. Very few authors can afford the
services of a trained stenographer. They must do their own work, frequently they must teach themselves, and for their guidance I will lay down a few simple rules not rules as to how to operate the machine, since every typewriter is accompanied by explicit printed directions, but rules as to the manner of work to be turned out.
Insert your paper carefully, so that the typewritten line will come parallel with the top of the page. To turn out good work you must know your machine ; above all, you must know how to space. Neat typewriting is merely a matter of care — and of spacing Almost all machines are fitted with space bars, indicating the number of letter spaces across the page ; and spacing between lines is a matter which the mind can readily grasp. It is better for the novice to go slow at first. In manuscript typewriting, accuracy is to be valued far above speed ; yet rest assured, also, that in time, while habits of accuracy fostered in the beginning will remain with you always, your speed will gradually increase.
Place your name and address at the upper left-hand corner of the first page. At the right-hand upper corner of the page give the estimated number of words in your manuscript.
Write your title about two inches down the first page.
Many writers like to surround the title with frills and furbelows, dollar marks and asterisks ; but by so doing they miss all the grand and impressive beauty of simplicity. In a short title strike a space between each two letters, and three spaces between each two words, A longer title had best be run in the usual way, without spaces between the letters, and with but one space between words.
Three spaces below the title, and centred under it, the author's name may appear. This should be in small letters, as opposed to the title, which should be in capitals. Where a subtitle is used, it should come midway between the head-title and the author's name, three spaces below the one and three above the other.
There should be three or four spaces be
tween the title or author's name and the beginning of the story.
By Charles Reade.
On the left-hand side of the page leave a margin of at least half an inch, and make the margin on the right hand correspond. Indent the beginning of each paragraph five spaces. You should always double-space your lines ; single-space work is detested by editors, both because it is hard to read and because it leaves no room for inserting interlineations and corrections. There should also be a half-inch margin between the last line and the bottom of the page ; while at the top of the next page you should allow a half-inch above the number of the page (which should be in the middle, guarded on each side by a hyphen), and which should also be three spaces above the first line.
When you come to the last page, typewrite your name, beginning at about 35 or 40 on the space bar. And finally, don't tear off the unused half of the page. That looks cheap.
In making lengthy quotations from books or letters, such as are customarily printed in smaller type, either write them with the single space or indent paragraphs ten spaces, and the margin of the quoted matter five spaces, from the regular margin of the writing.
Moreover (and this is properly a matter of punctuation), when you have to divide a word at the end of a line, do so, not haphazard, but according to the syllables : and never divide a word at the end of a page.
These rules have been acquired in an experience of many years with typewriters and editors. They are practical. Your own experience may in time suggest others, equally
more practical ; till hen, I commend these as a guide to you in your work. Rest assured that the editor, sitting on high, though he may not express himself, will not be found wanting in heartfelt gratitude.
Victor Lauriston. CHATHAM, Ont.
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No. 6. money as he says, it was probably because
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