How to write for a living PDF book by Trentwell Mason White (fiction)

How to write for a living PDF book  by Trentwell Mason 

How to write for a living PDF book

SINCE 1937 when the first of several editions of How To Write for a hiving was issued, popular literature has been exposed to the cataclysmic influences of World War II. A number of things have happened to both the writers and the writing of fiction during this time. Many famous authors and editors have disappeared, either through retirement or death, from the pages of magazines and books. Many publications, too, have died or have shifted their policies. Some hundreds of new authors and at least two score new magazines and book companies have emerged for the divertisement of the reading public. A few literary experiments have been attempted, and the stage, cinema, radio, and television contributors have made significant attempts at innovation in the manner as well as in the mechanics of their materials.



It would seem that the task of the author of a book on writing methods must, right now, be a difficult one if only because his first job requires such a careful appraisal of the auctorial craft as it is being currently practiced in a period of upheaval and change. To arrive at my conclusions regarding what to revise for this new edition, I have studied the fiction appearing in the various media during the past five years, talked with editors and authors, with readers and librarians, teachers and students. I examined with particular interest the various annual "best" anthologies such as the O. Henry Memorial Award Prize


Stories" and the yearly "Best American Short Stories" to learn what fiction trends the editors and critics had observed over half a decade. The summing up of all the information comes to this: there appears to be continued growth in the honesty and integrity of American writers. Realism holds firmly, though the "open-plumbing" school of literature has lost ground rapidly. Romanticism, still battling with realism, has perhaps gained, with the "costume piece" being increasingly popular.

But what strikes me as most challenging is that the fundamental pattern of both short and long fiction has changed not a whit. From 1942 to 1946, all magazine fiction took on a brisker tempo, and it became shorter, of course, because of wartime paper restrictions and the briefer span of concentration which readers will give to printed matter when a nation is under the tension of global conflict. Yet today in the authors of the popular publication are using the same essential "formula" of fiction mechanics that they have been following for many years.

Readers still like success and happy-ending stories; an adventure is still adventure (though the war story is no longer predominant) j the detective and mystery tale keeps on broadening its audience; while the love story will, editors say, reach a new high in reader interest during the next half-decade. And this, mark you, without any change in its conventional pattern.

In revising How To Write for a Living, therefore, I have been cautious about shifting the basic scheme of the fiction-building formulas and have revamped only those sections mentioning magazines and policies and certain order "dated" material. I have also done a completely new introduction. It remains to be said, however, that while the mechanics of fiction writing can be understood by a study of this book, the art of writing is something that cannot be learned by reading this or any other publication. There are no short cuts to any creative activity whether the neat formula or a rule-of-thumb be employed.

Author: Trentwell Mason White 
Publication Date: 1947


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