How to write for a living - PDF by Trentwell Mason White

How to write for a living


How to write for a living

There is far too much glib talk about how easy it is to write if one will follow "just a few, simple rules." Too many happy little cliches and copy-book maxims are lugged in to show that "it's largely perspiration — not in- spiration"; that "it's a matter of merely applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair," and so on.

 In certain books on writing the instructor is pictured as a kind of avuncular old soul who, while the student relaxes before his typewriter, leans over his shoulder and, with a couple of comfortable comments, sets the tyro-author aright so that the manuscript is accepted the next week by the Post. Or, in certain other books, the instructor is clearly one of those college professors of literature who has known for years just how to do it but actually has never himself been able to sell a smidgeon of fiction, even to the sleaziest "little" magazine. 

His Jovian pronouncements, neatly larded with many an obscure literary allusion, are enough to confuse anyone who modestly seeks to pry a speck of money loses from almost any kind of publication, not insisting on The Atlantic Monthly as the only respectable magazine left in a naughty world. It is my purpose, then, to avoid these extremities, if I can, and, in this introduction, to describe to you some ways in which this book may be made practicable for your own specific ends. 

First off, my assumption is that you are not fundamentally concerned with becoming literary; that, on the contrary, your interest in How To Write for a Living starts and finishes with the idea expressed in that book title. Next, I assume that you are literate, that you can use the English language facilely and with some imagination. And finally, it is my hope that you are genuinely serious in your intention to write; that you are willing to spend a fairly large amount of time working at writing — not all of your time, to be sure, because you probably are currently preoccupied with earning a livelihood otherwise until authorship, in terms of at least four figures, can release you from your present vocation. If you agree, then, with the foregoing assumptions, let's get on. In theory, writers write because they "have a story to tell." In fact, that is not always true. 

Most authors write because they want and need the money or reputation that sometimes comes from auctorial labour, because they don't like other kinds of work, and because they find that the business of putting words together to sell is satisfying if drudging vocation.

 That they seldom have a story to tell but must painfully manufacture one out of whatever odds and ends they can pick up should be obvious to any person who reads the popular magazines and books. The average piece of fiction written by the average successful author is thus clearly built out of necessity — financial necessity — not bom out of literary inspiration. 


Some contents:

Introduction
unit ONE
CREATING THE SHORT STORT PATTERN
I First Considerations 21
II The Plan 38
III The Plot 49
IV Characterization and Other Problems 75
UNIT TWO
CREATING TYPES OF THE SHORT STORIES
Introduction 91
I The Adventure Story 93
II The Love Story 100
III The Western Story 106
IV Detective Story 112
UNIT THREE
CREATING JUVENILE FICTION
I The Juvenile Field as a Training Ground
Clayton Holt Ernst 1 23
II On Writing for Children
Elizabeth Coatsworth 130
III Building the Juvenile Serial 136
UNIT FOUR
CREATING OTHER FICTION FORMS
I The Short Short Story 147
II The Novelette 154
III The Novel 162
UNIT FIVE
CONSIDERING ASSOCIATED FICTION FORMS
The Radio Script
Katharine Seymour and J. T. W. Martin 177
II The Play Script, Alice Howard Spaulding 207
III If You Must Write for the Movies
Doris F. Halman 217
UNIT SIX
REVISING, EDITING, PROOFREADING
PROBLEMS
I Revising the Manuscript 225
II Editing the Manuscript, Edward Weeks 232
III Proof and Proofreading 236
UNIT SEVEN
SELLING: ATTITUDES AND ACTIVITIES
I Are Editors People?
Kenneth Payson Kempton 243
II The Author's Second Trade
Harford Powel, Jr. 254
III Author — Agent — Publisher, Grace Morse 259 

Author: Trentwell Mason White 
Publication Date: 1947



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