Dead Stories

We have all read stories in which there was plot and grammar, but which when finished left us with the conviction that our time had been wasted.

We have all read stories in which there was plot and grammar, but which when finished left us with the conviction that our time had been wasted. They were lifeless, unreal; they Seemed more like machine-made work than stories of real flesh-and-blood people.

Nothing can be true literature, whether a two-line joke or an epic poem, unless it is a genuine interpretation of life. After reading a poem or a history we should know man better: why he hates, why he loves, why he sacrifices.

Every masterpiece stands as an exposition of some moral truth. "Oliver Twist" was an outcry against the charity systems of England; "Paradise Lost" is an admonition against sin; "King Lear" shows the love between parent and child; Bret Harte's "Tennessee's Partner" shows the love of a rough miner for his fellow-toiler; and so may this stratum of truth be shown in everything literary that lives.

If your heroine, a moonshiner's daughter, falls in love with the young man who means to betray the still to the revenue officers, and the girl shoots him, don't say so in just that many words, but let the woof of your story show the stern sense of duty of the moonshiner's daughter. Or again, if you have the light-hearted husband come home from his office where he has been fighting the business battle always buoyed up by the thoughts of his wife, and find her in the arms of another man and then in a day or two have him entice them out in the bay and leave them on a barren rock to die together under the tide --show the awfulness of betraying conjugal love.

Meet your fellow-man, study him - he is the life - and then make your stories ring true; make them mean something!

The Editor Company

The Editor, "the journal of information for literary workers", was an American bulletin reporting on markets for writers, published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Join the Conversation

Read These Next


Anatomy of An Audiobook Review

Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular, and audiobook reviews are likewise becoming an increasingly important way listeners can find outstanding books. But audiobook reviews need to address more than just the plot and writing to be useful.


Marketing to Libraries

Don’t discount libraries as a source of steady orders for your books. U.S. libraries spend over 700 million dollars annually on print materials.


Publishing Books in Times of Economic Uncertainty

Even when consumer spending goes down, it is possible for book publishers not only to survive but thrive. Previous economic downturns have shown that people continue to spend on entertainment. In fact, movie attendance actually spiked during the Great Depression. Some have attributed this to the need to escape bleak reality, and what’s better escapism than spending a few hours with a book?