Monday, February 6, 2017

Writing for the Pulp Houses: All Detective Magazine

While writing advice is a dime-a-dozen, advice from the pulp editors on their house styles may prove more useful for a writer seeking to incorporate elements of the pulps into their stories.  These editors molded the styles with an eye for what sold their magazines - and what did not.

Today's advice comes from All Detective Magazine, a pulp specializing in weird menace tales, or action detective stories with a diabolical threat looming over the characters.

Editor Carson W. Mowre instructed prospective writers.
Our crime stories must have a direct emotional appeal for the reader. The first way of gaining this end is the creation of a hero with whom the reader would like to and can identify himself. Once he is living the story vicariously, the most primary play upon his emotions is suspense. Work toward that sensation of something about to happen, the mounting fear. Menace is the strongest method of creating suspense. Draw the antagonists of the hero as such resourceful, diabolical characters that the reader fears the outcome; draw the crimes of the antagonists so vividly, stressing the physical horror, that fear of this fate grows in the reader. Make him feel the crime, not as plot development, but as the ghastly reality. Color helps suspense: characters and situations which in themselves are exciting to the emotions. The bizarre is another aid: freakish, monstrous, fantastic criminal actions given an aspect of plausibility. Criminal actions which could but don’t happen. Avoid the stock in character and situation.
Menace must be so strong that the reader following the hero vicariously is really frightened lest he can’t extricate himself. Villains who are mere thugs are taboo; they must be resourceful, diabolic. Motives and actions may stretch plausibility, but must always seem possible. Heroes must be of such colorful nature that the reader easily identifies himself with them and wants to follow along. Action must be very vivid, with such great detail that the emotion of fear is heightened. Not action merely to advance the plot, but to serve an emotional purpose. One crime made so horrible that fear of another hangs over the reader strongly. 
From: Dent, Lester. Hell in Boxes: The Exploits of Lynn Lash and Foster Fade. Altus Press. Kindle Edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment