Notes on Research

[Anytime men  find themselves confronted with impossibles,  they laugh.]
   W
ITH HIS CONTINUED ADVANCE TO THE FOREFRONT OF POPULAR FICTION, Ron found himself increasingly pressed for instructional lectures and articles – particularly those articles “in which there was a great deal of sound advice about writing and a number of examples,” as he so simply described it. Among other topics eventually considered were the rarely discussed editorial canons: “The heroine must always be as pure as snowdrifts, unsullied, unsoiled, and the greatest worry is about the intentions of the big, bad, sneering, leering, rasping, grating, snarling villain.” Then again, we find him offering a few choice remarks on the consequences of ignoring canons: “What courage it takes to break free! You stare at a vision of an empty cupboard. You seem to feel your toes peeping through your shoes, you already listen to the angry words of the landlord as he helps the sheriff toss your writing desk out into the street.”

     Of particular stress through LRH instructional articles, however, was the never-ending business of research.

     The matter is not as obvious as one might imagine, and what Ron addresses has rarely been so plainly stated – namely, the actual process of conceiving a story. Of course, the dozen or more periodicals aimed at would-be wordsmiths of the day were forever offering “tips to inspire.” The most interesting, if only as a curiosity, was the Plot Genie. Described as an “infallible” aid to the plotting of stories, the mail-order contraption featured two cardboard wheels with every conceivable literary contrivance matched with every conceivable stock character as in: the rancher’s daughter enraptured with the lonesome drifter, or the disinherited stepson on the trail of lost treasure. Yet having plotted “three infallibles from that Genie,” Ron explained, “I hated myself for days and days.”

Notes on Research continued...


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