Monday, October 31, 2016

Pulp Radio Halloween: The Shadow - The Immortal Murderer

Using a radio script of a lost Shadow episode, written by Alfred Bester of science fiction classics The Demolished Man and The Stars, My Destination fame, Razorfist and a host of Youtubers and fans have brought to life The Immortal Murderer once more.

In addition to sharing this because I am a huge Shadow and Razorfist fan, the former due to the latter, this radio play is also a serendipitous find as this episode is another example of how the hero pulps like the Shadow and Doc Savage influenced science fiction and fantasy prior to the 1977 Unweirding of the two genres.  Not only did Alfred Bester write radio plays for The Shadow, his award winning The Demolished Man was based on one of those radio scripts.  So when you leaf through the pulps for the roots of science fiction and fantasy, don't stop at Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, or Astounding Stories/Analog, take a look at Doc Savage and The Shadow.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Vision of the Grail

In the interview "Will Murray: Pulp Archeologist" found in Writings in Bronze, Will Murray was asked about writing The Destroyer, He responded:
"Mainly I drew upon my deep knowledge of the Street & Smith traditions for writing and sustaining pulp series: types of plots, tricks and devices for what The Shadow's Walter Gibson used to call "testing reader interest."  Having gone through virtually all of Lester Dent's surviving Doc Savage outlines gave me great insight into how to plot and develop pulp premises.  I did not use Dent's famed Masterplot, however.  The Destroyer was too freeform for strict formula.  There I emulated Walter Gibson's approach - namely that the individual story should dictate its own structure.  As a pulp writer, it's fair to say that I want to Street & Smith University."
I would so dearly love to be able to come across a listing of various pulp writing techniques or a paper or two that would describe these tricks and devices, as opposed to teasing out each one through reading essays and the pulps.  Just in case I can't find that codified list, I do have a stack of Doc Savage and The Shadow magazines just waiting to be read...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Observations on Weird Tales


I have been listing to recordings of various panels from Pulpfest, a convention for pulp enthusiasts and collectors.  While the convention focuses more on the hero pulps like Doc Savage and the Shadow, a groups of panels focused specifically on the horror, fantasy, and science fiction pulps that birthed the modern genres, Appendix N, and gaming of all stripes.  The king of these pulps was Weird Tales.

Writers who got their start in this magazine include H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Tennessee Williams, Edmund "World Wrecker" Hamilton, Ray Bradbury, Manly Wade Wellman, Fritz Leiber, Henry Kuttner. C. L. Moore, Theodore Sturgeon, Margaret St. Clair, and August Derlith. Weird Tales published or had the right of first refusal to a majority of Appendix N authors and works, with most of the exceptions writing before or after the magazine's run. It represents the foundational pulp magazine against which the other horror, fantasy, and science fiction pulps reacted. Initially, these magazines would pick up stories rejected by the whims of Farnsworth Wright. Later, in Joseph Campbell and the Futurian editors, they would reject Weird Tales' pulp sensibilities for the frontiers of hard SF and social SF. Over time, it is those styles of pulp fiction, championed by NYC publishers and fan clubs like the Futurians and the Hydra Club, which claimed to be the mainstream of science fiction and the Golden Age. However, the shadow cast upon genre fiction by Weird Tales reaches to the present day:
"To this day, all horror writers take something out of somebody in Weird Tales. Whether it be Clive Barker or Steven King, who is very vocal about his admiration for it. Any of them you can name - Dean Koontz - they all received their education from Weird Tales. Think of Weird Tales as the doctoral thesis you have to read to enter the college." - Frank Schildiner 
I also noticed that Weird Tales and many of its authors were centered around Chicago instead of New York City. It is curious that these Chicago authors, without links to NYC fandom circles, were the ones who have slid into obscurity, just like pulpier Campbellian writers outside that clique have as well.

Finally, meet the character that was too pulp even for Weird Tales: Doctor Satan. A villain in the vein of Fu Manchu or Fantomas, he reled on a mixture of science and the occult to aid his crimes. Unfortunately, it was the readership, not the editors, who forced Weird Tales to cancel his stories, as they did not want to read hero pulp stories in Weird Tales. This might be one of the first anti-pulp revolts in the history of science fiction and fantasy. With a readership one-sixth of hero pulps like Doc Savage or The Shadow, Weird Tales was eager to please its audience, which was writing to the magazine and pledging to cancel their subscriptions. This revolt certainly precedes Campbell's revolution by a couple years. A suspicious soul might even wonder if New York fandom voices were loud in that tumult, just like they were in later anti-pulp movements.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Narrative on Tolkein

"Tolkien was among the pioneers of the genre that we would now call fantasy writing. In particular, his stories – together with those of C. S. Lewis — were among the first to establish the convention of an alternative world or universe as the setting for speculative fiction."
-From Wikipedia's article on "On Fairy Stories"

I thought instead of Howard and then Burroughs when I first saw this, although the alternative world trope is as old as myth and was already greying when Homer smote 'is bloomin' lyre. This excerpt is pure narrative, complete with erasure of previous works in the field and references to speculative fiction instead of science fiction or fantasy. It ignores the fact that Narnia, the Space trilogy, and Middle-Earth all had bridges to the real Earth of the time, whether directly through wardrobes and rockets, or indirectly, through history. It also ignores that stories with a bridge to Earth or Earth's history are still common after Tolkien and Lewis, as can be seen in Amber, Thomas Covenant, Shannara, and even the Wheel of Time. The only way for the excerpt to hold true is if the writer conflates epic fantasy with the modern fantasy genre, despite the fact that Lewis's Space trilogy is in the tradition of Burroughs's works.

The Hydra Club

In a conversation spun off from a 1940 letter cheering the "imminent demise of the science fiction comic magazines", the author, Thomas S. Gardner, was linked to a New York fandom club called the Hydra Club.  The Hydra Club has quite a bit of overlap with the Futurians in terms of roster. Not sure if the agenda is there, but the non-Futurian names really start to impress how NY centered fandom and it's resulting genre was.

What makes this interesting in hindsight is that the claims of the Worldcon crowd during the Sad Puppies years that SFF was theirs is strengthened by the existence of the Futurians and the Hydra Club. Many familiar names from the New York SF clubs of the time went on to become prominent authors in science fiction. A case can be made that literary science fiction has been catering to the tastes of the New York social crowd because it was written by the New York crowd, with those consigned to the ghetto such as Heinlein and van Vogt being authors outside those social circles. However, it is interesting to see that many of the prominent voices in the Sad Puppies affair on both sides are not from New York, but the Rocky Mountains. Martin, and Flint, and Correia, Hoyt, and Torgersen hail from New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Although they represent opposing sides in the Sad Puppy controversy, when joined with Sanderson, Card, the authorial team known as James S.A. Corey, and Kevin J. Anderson, it is clear that the creative heart of science fiction and fantasy is no longer in New York but westward.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pulpfest 2013 - Doc Savage & the Pulp Heroes of 1933

There's about 10 minutes of fluff before it gets going, but this recording of a Pulpfest convention panel discusses Pulp heroes and how the history of the Depression affected the writing of the Pulps, specifically the organized crime epidemic.

Quick Thoughts: Appendix N

Appendix N may not be the sum total of the canon of fantasy, but it represents a wider variety of subgenres and styles than the current field of fantasy, which was deliberately pruned to epic fantasies in the flavors of Tolkien pastiches, pastiches reacting to Tolkien's conventions, or D&D-inspired settings. It may not be the sun-source of all gaming, but it provides a view into what people actually read as opposed to what nearly 80 years of Worldcon SocJus fandom says people should read.. Appendix N represents a wider world of reading experiences than today's bookshelves, so when we sing of its praises, it's because people have been hiding good stories from us. Perhaps if Appendix N catches on, we might see a return to clever, tightly written, and shorter novels as opposed to the ever growing word bloat of the Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Cosmere.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Writing for the Pulp Houses: Detective Classics

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 John Byrne and Jack Kelly of Detective Classics, an early crime pulp published by Fiction House.  It was found in the introduction to The Crimes of the Scarlet Ace: The Complete Stories of Major Lacy and Amusement, Inc.  Pulp historian and writer Will Murray described the Detective Classics house style as "fast writing, and no fat."

From John Byrne:
"Action is one of the main essentials.  Modern setting, city or general locale with a good strong central character of the lone-wolf, gentleman-adventurer, solder-of-fortune type acing the odds and beating them.  Make him the type that would have series possibilities, put him in any field where the big money is  He may be working outside the law, or even against the established law, but his intent must be the securing of justice.  We want to 'see' this character clearly.  He must be a man who will arouse and hold reader sympathy.
"The theme could run along action-detective lines or perhaps you could use the Raffles angle.  The yarn should open fast and keep going at that pace throughout."
"We must have a good, fast opening," he insisted.  "Smack us within the first paragraph.  Get our interest aroused.  Don't tell us about the general geographic situation or the atmospheric conditions.  Don't describe the hero's physique, or the kind of pants he wears.  Start something!"
"It may help you if you think of your plot as a movie director would visualize it if he were making a six-reeler.  Ask yourself what scene he would use as an opening to get immediate attention and interest - what continuity would he follow - from what angle would be shoot various scenes to get his best effects?"
From Jack Kelly:
"If you want to describe a sunset, O.K.  Describe it.  But we'll shove it at the end of a story as a footnote, and just put a star in the yarn so the reader can refer to it later after the story has been read."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rattle of Bones, by Robert E. Howard

Summary: In the middle of Germany's Black Forest, Solomon Kane meets Gaston l'Armon inside the Cleft Skull Tavern. The two men struggle to place where they might have met before.  As their host, a man who claims false imprisonment in the Karlsruhe dungeons, guides them to their beds, a practiced paranoia compels the two men to search for means to secure their room.  After wandering through the empty tavern, they find a bar for a door in the last room.  Gaston tries to remove it from its setting, but instead opens a passage to a secret room.  Inside is a skeleton of a man with a cleft skull shackled to the floor.  Gaston cuts the chain, mocking the bones.

Solomon Kane leaves the secret room to confront the tavern keeper about the body, but stops as a pistol is pressed against his head.  Kane and Gaston finally recognize each other.  Gaston is the Butcher, and intends to relieve Solomon Kane of his gold and his life.  A blade falls from behind the bandit, cleaving his skull.  The tavern owner then takes his place holding Kane at gunpoint.  Kane tries to talk his way free, but the host wants revenge on all men for his false imprisonment and will not settle for less than Kane's blood.  The tavern owner boasts of killing a sorcerer and chaining his body to the floor.  Kane will soon join the dead man.   However, the tavern owner falls backward as the candlelight in the room is snuffed out.

When Solomon Kane finds light once more, he discovers that the tavern owner is now dead, with the skeleton's fingers deep in his throat.


This story serves as a poor introduction to Solomon Kane.  But then, he is neither hero nor protagonist of this story.  Instead, he is the viewpoint character through which the reader observes a tale of Gaston's death and resulting vengeance against his murderer.  In other stories, he is not  passive, proving to be a Puritan hero comparable in skill and cunning to Conan.  Here, however, he is replaceable. 

"Rattle of Bones" is built on repetition.  In musical terms, it is a story of theme and variation - with cleaved skulls and mugging.  The phrase "cleft skull" repeats in the name of the tavern and the cleft skulls of the sorcerer and Gaston.  Conventional wisdom would have forced new ways of describing the lethal head wound, as writers are taught to avoid using phrases in a short story.  Here, repetition of a key phrase is used as a clue to the murder of the sorcerer, pointing back to the tavern owner.  The men who attempted to mug Solomon Kane were both dispatched from behind by unseen attackers.  Finally, the two death curses of the sorcerer and Gaston combine to kill the man who killed them both: the tavern owner. Here, the repetition of plot elements is used to strengthen the parallels between the sorcerer and Gaston to drive home the point that the vengeance of both dead men was enabled and fulfilled in the actions of the other man.  For all the claims of the pulps' hackneyed writing and cliches, what becomes apparent upon critical reading is the craftmanship of the pulps. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pulp Radio Wedneday: The Shadow - "The Hospital Murders"

Dean Wesley Smith's Pulp Speed

From Dean Wesley Smith's article on Pulp Speed.

And it takes a real love of telling stories and an ability to write one draft fiction. Rewriting kills Pulp Speed completely. None of the great Pulp Writers you read today and many of the great literary writers never rewrote anything. They told people they did starting in the 1970s and afterward when the rewriting craze started to hit, but they never did in reality.

Remember, to them words were money. One cent per word made them rich. The more words in sellable fiction, the richer they got.


About 1,000,000 (1 million) original words per year. This averages to about 2,750 words a day for 365 days. (numbers rounded)

Or about 83,300 words per month.  So if you do 3,000 words a day and over 84,000 words per month ON AVERAGE for a year, you are writing at PULP SPEED ONE. (if you take days off, then your daily word count has to go up on your writing days. Do your own math for your schedule.)
He describes various levels, up to Pulp Speed Six, or 2,000,000 original words per year.  That's more words in one year than G. R. R. Martin has published for the entire Song of Ice and Fire series over the course of twenty years.  Those levels of production explain the pulps' reliance on structures and formulas, as organization assists in creation.  When you're relying on one cent a word to pay the bills, streamlining the creative process is a must.

Also of interest is that the padding of paperbacks began in the early 80s, right after the heroic fantasy explosion.  The search for paperback profits contributed to the un-weirding of science fiction and fantasy by selecting against the shorter pulp novels. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Razorfist's HBO Effect

At 1:16 in the video, Razorfist describes what he calls the HBO Effect, where an artist relies more on pleasing the critics for success than the audience.  Predictably, sales slump.  Listen to the rantmaster to hear how Marvel embraced it to its detriment, but just not at work.  Then consider how TOR and other publishers have embraced it in SFF, to the same effect.

Deeper into THE SHADOW with Razörfist

Monday, October 17, 2016

Anti-Pulp Revolutions

A history of the counter-revolutions to Campbell, each anti-pulp in nature.  I am not endorsing the comments on the pulps or the hagiography to hard sf. However, I do find it curious that all the counter-revolutions were in the same anti-heroic direction and not towards the pulps. Notice that the first, the Futurians, was a sizable faction of WorldCon fandom at the time as well as a sizable fraction of the editorial gatekeepers of the time, editing up to half of the pulp magazines on the 40s at one time. 

Jeffro was wondering who killed the pulps, leaning towards Campbell.  I'm leaning instead towards to the Futurians, who did drive the pulpier of the Campbell authors out of the spotlight and into obscurity.  The insistence on Literature with Meaning is common to Socialist authors, having been first expressed in the 1890s, and the Futurians were all card-carrying believers in that anti-civilization pipe dream.  Jeffro has suggested 1940 as the year when the wheels fell off of science fiction, which would coincide with the rise of the Futurians as an editorial force.  Now, we might both be right, as there is overlap between Campbell's authors and the Futurians, most notably in Asimov.  If I am right, though, Worldcon fandom has been a blight on the genre since its inception.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Golgotha Dancers, by Manly Wade Wellman

"I sold my soul that I might paint a living picture." - "The Golgotha Dancers", Manly Wade Wellman
Summary: A man tours an art museum in search of The Isle of the Dead, but finds in its place another painting, named Golgotha.  The image of 12 cherubic demons dancing while two more drive spikes into a crucified man's hands captivates him.  A museum guard takes the painting down, as someone has sneaked the painting into the gallery.  On a whim, the unnamed man offers to take Golgotha home. The guard agrees, as it would hide all evidence of his negligence of his duties.

After hanging the painting in his room, the man falls asleep.  He wakes from a nightmare to find that the dancers from the painting are crowd around him.  They seize his arms and stretch him out in cruciform fashion.  As he lays pinned in his bed by the dancers, one raises a hammer high into the air, just like in the painting...


"The Golgotha Dancers" first appeared in Weird Tales vol. 30, issue 4, making it a first run pulp short story.  Accounting for length and genre conventions, it shares much with Lester Dent's Master Pulp Formula, including multiple physical conflicts including one initiated by the narrator, a reliance on wit and skill to resolve the encounter, and a punchline at the end.  However, the character of Miss Dolby, a nurse who heard the commotion of the dancers and rushed to help the narrator, was not introduced in the first quarter of the story but at the half-way point.  Her growing involvement with the narrator and the mystery serves as a respite in the escalating stakes not found in Dent's formula.  In fact, she is a key character in the resolution, as her peril forces another confrontation with the dancers.  Her levelheadedness and skills with a knife ultimately contribute to the demonic dancers' undoing.

That said, Wellman is not merely duplicating this stock formula, but writing to his own.  Wellman's formula, as seen here and in his John the Balladeer stories, is to embed a clue into the mystery of the story, whether in the songs John learns or the inscription "I sold my soul that I might paint a living picture".  Evil can be fought but must be outwitted to be defeated.  The means for that defeat are always near, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, but it takes a special person to solve the puzzle.  In "The Golgotha Dancers", the narrator sees clearly that the painting is a living painting, while it took the doubtful Miss Dolby's wits to properly apply that knowledge into a solution. 


An analysis of "The Golgotha Dancers" using the Five Pillars of Pulp shows:

Action -  The unnamed narrator wrestles in flesh and blood with the demonic dancers.

Impact - How the narrator escapes his fate is irreversible.  Also, standing against the dancers with Miss Dolby draws the two together.

Moral Peril - Although the associations with the crucifixion hill of Golgotha give the dancers actual hellish overtones, the peril that the narrator and Miss Dolby face is mortal, not moral or spiritual.  At no time did the narrator think of abandoning her to the dancers.

Mystery - From the man who sneaked Golgotha into the museum to the inscription written on its frame, mystery draws the narrator to the painting and a series of confrontations with the dancers.  While solving a particular facet of the mystery allows the narrator to survive his encounter with the dancers, questions about the methods used to create the living painting and the identity of the artist remain.

Romance - On my first read, the ending, where the narrator recognizes his love for Miss Dolby, felt out of place.  However, upon rereading, it is clear that her chance run-in to rescue him the first time led to a growing relationship prior to the final confrontation with the dancers.  The formality of the relationship obscured this fact on the quick read.


"The Golgotha Dancers" can be found at Wikisource Amazon, and Project Gutenberg.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lester Dent's Pulp Master Formula

Writing advice from the author of Doc Savage, Lester Dent:

This is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words.

No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell.

The business of building stories seems not much different from the business of building anything else.

Here's how it starts:


One of these DIFFERENT things would be nice, two better, three swell. It may help if they are fully in mind before tackling the rest.

A different murder method could be--different. Thinking of shooting, knifing, hydrocyanic, garroting, poison needles, scorpions, a few others, and writing them on paper gets them where they may suggest something. Scorpions and their poison bite? Maybe mosquitos or flies treated with deadly germs?

If the victims are killed by ordinary methods, but found under strange and identical circumstances each time, it might serve, the reader of course not knowing until the end, that the method of murder is ordinary.

Scribes who have their villain's victims found with butterflies, spiders or bats stamped on them could conceivably be flirting with this gag.

Probably it won't do a lot of good to be too odd, fanciful or grotesque with murder methods.

The different thing for the villain to be after might be something other than jewels, the stolen bank loot, the pearls, or some other old ones.

Here, again one might get too bizarre.

Unique locale? Easy. Selecting one that fits in with the murder method and the treasure--thing that villain wants--makes it simpler, and it's also nice to use a familiar one, a place where you've lived or worked. So many pulpateers don't. It sometimes saves embarrassment to know nearly as much about the locale as the editor, or enough to fool him.

Here's a nifty much used in faking local color. For a story laid in Egypt, say, author finds a book titled "Conversational Egyptian Easily Learned," or something like that. He wants a character to ask in Egyptian, "What's the matter?" He looks in the book and finds, "El khabar, eyh?" To keep the reader from getting dizzy, it's perhaps wise to make it clear in some fashion, just what that means. Occasionally the text will tell this, or someone can repeat it in English. But it's a doubtful move to stop and tell the reader in so many words the English translation.

The writer learns they have palm trees in Egypt. He looks in the book, finds the Egyptian for palm trees, and uses that. This kids editors and readers into thinking he knows something about Egypt.

Here's the second installment of the master plot.

Divide the 6000 word yarn into four 1500 word parts. In each 1500 word part, put the following:

1--First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved--something the hero has to cope with.

2--The hero pitches in to cope with his fistful of trouble. (He tries to fathom the mystery, defeat the menace, or solve the problem.)

3--Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible. Bring them on in action.

4--Hero's endevours land him in an actual physical conflict near the end of the first 1500 words.

5--Near the end of first 1500 words, there is a complete surprise twist in the plot development.

SO FAR: Does it have SUSPENSE?
Is there a MENACE to the hero?
Does everything happen logically?

At this point, it might help to recall that action should do something besides advance the hero over the scenery. Suppose the hero has learned the dastards of villains have seized somebody named Eloise, who can explain the secret of what is behind all these sinister events. The hero corners villains, they fight, and villains get away. Not so hot.

Hero should accomplish something with his tearing around, if only to rescue Eloise, and surprise! Eloise is a ring-tailed monkey. The hero counts the rings on Eloise's tail, if nothing better comes to mind.
They're not real. The rings are painted there. Why?


1--Shovel more grief onto the hero.

2--Hero, being heroic, struggles, and his struggles lead up to:

3--Another physical conflict.

4--A surprising plot twist to end the 1500 words.

NOW: Does second part have SUSPENSE?
Does the MENACE grow like a black cloud?
Is the hero getting it in the neck?
Is the second part logical?

DON'T TELL ABOUT IT***Show how the thing looked. This is one of the secrets of writing; never tell the reader--show him. (He trembles, roving eyes, slackened jaw, and such.) MAKE THE READER SEE HIM.

When writing, it helps to get at least one minor surprise to the printed page. It is reasonable to to expect these minor surprises to sort of  inveigle the reader into keeping on. They need not be such profound efforts. One method of accomplishing one now and then is to be gently misleading. Hero is examining the murder room. The door behind him begins slowly to open. He does not see it. He conducts his examination blissfully. Door eases open, wider and wider, until--surprise! The glass pane falls out of the big window across the room. It must have fallen slowly, and air blowing into the room caused the door to open. Then what the heck made the pane fall so slowly? More mystery.

Characterizing a story actor consists of giving him some things which make him stick in the reader's mind. TAG HIM.



1--Shovel the grief onto the hero.

2--Hero makes some headway, and corners the villain or somebody in:

3--A physical conflict.

4--A surprising plot twist, in which the hero preferably gets it in the neck bad, to end the 1500 words.

DOES: It still have SUSPENSE?
The MENACE getting blacker?
The hero finds himself in a hell of a fix?
It all happens logically?

These outlines or master formulas are only something to make you certain of inserting some physical conflict, and some genuine plot twists, with a little suspense and menace thrown in. Without them, there is no pulp story.

These physical conflicts in each part might be DIFFERENT, too. If one fight is with fists, that can take care of the pugilism until next the next yarn. Same for poison gas and swords. There may, naturally, be exceptions. A hero with a peculiar punch, or a quick draw, might use it more than once.

The idea is to avoid monotony.

Vivid, swift, no words wasted. Create suspense, make the reader see and feel the action.

Hear, smell, see, feel and taste.

Trees, wind, scenery and water.


1--Shovel the difficulties more thickly upon the hero.

2--Get the hero almost buried in his troubles. (Figuratively, the villain has him prisoner and has him framed for a murder rap; the girl is presumably dead, everything is lost, and the DIFFERENT murder method is about to dispose of the suffering protagonist.)

3--The hero extricates himself using HIS OWN SKILL, training or brawn.

4--The mysteries remaining--one big one held over to this point will help grip interest--are cleared up in course of final conflict as hero takes
the situation in hand.

5--Final twist, a big surprise, (This can be the villain turning out to be the unexpected person, having the "Treasure" be a dud, etc.)

6--The snapper, the punch line to end it.

HAS: The SUSPENSE held out to the last line?
The MENACE held out to the last?
Everything been explained?
It all happen logically?
Is the Punch Line enough to leave the reader with that WARM FEELING?
Did God kill the villain? Or the hero?

From The Dirty 30s at

An Introduction to the Shadow, by Raz0rfist

Misha Burnett's Five Pillars of Pulp

Misha Burnett has been trying to pin down the essentials of the pulp style.  Many writers have copied the language of the old pulps, from detective stories to weird tales, but few grasp the essence of those stories.  Burnett proposes that the heart of the pulps can be described by his Five Pillars: Action, Impact, Moral Peril, Mystery, and Romance.  Without these elements, a "pulp" story becomes a mere knock-off.


I will be using this blog to collect various writings about the pulps, science fiction, and fantasy, as well as record my own observations and reviews of the those and similar genres.