Just in time for the end of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) we have an appropriately themed new release from our Project Gutenberg endeavors: The fiction factory: being the experience of a writer who, for twenty-two years, has kept a story-mill grinding successfully by John Milton Edwards (a pseudonym of William Wallace Cook). So now that you’ve written one novel, here’s some advice, originally published over 100 years ago in 1912, on how to keep churning them out.
It is hoped that this book will be found of interest to writers, not alone to those who have arrived but also to those who are on the way. Writers with name and fame secure may perhaps be entertained, while writers who are struggling for recognition may discover something helpful here and there throughout John Milton Edwards’ twenty-two years of literary endeavor. And is it too fair a hope that the reader of fiction will here find something to his taste? He has an acquaintance with the finished article, and it may chance that he has the curiosity to discover how the raw material was taken, beaten into shape and finally laid before his eyes in his favorite periodical.
Cook’s account is pretty dry at times, as he goes through everything he wrote year-by-year in a very business-like manner (including how much he was paid for each story), but he also includes some interesting anecdotes about the late-19th/early-20th-century publishing industry. And it’s definitely noteworthy that the accomplishments he relates in such a matter-of-fact way include producing approximately 20,000-30,000 words per week!
This writer’s account is particularly interesting to dime novel fans, as there are few “insider” accounts of that industry. In addition to publishing pseudonymously, Cook also changed the name of some (but not all) of the publishers and other people he encountered – which makes the book quite maddening from a scholarly perspective as it is not always clear who Cook was writing about.
The entire book can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.
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