MODEL STORIES

reprinted from the July 1, 1936 issue of AFG

This month the Treasurer suggested that if we asked editors themselves to select their “model” stories for a given period, so that magazines running them would be procurable on the stands when this bulletin came out, we might accomplish the following:

  1. Show writers what editors like, better than any exchange of letters might do.
  2. Bring such stories, and their authors, to the attention, more forcibly, of motion picture story editors.
  3. Show book publishers what those writers might do if encouraged to sustained effort, i.e. the writing of books.
  4. Fulfill the project outlined on the separate card accompanying this bulletin, i.e. add to the fame of the writers mentioned.

In this connection you will note that only current magazines are selected, and that no attempt is made to confine selections to Guild members. In studying these models, don’t overlook the comments of the editors which may qualify their selections and help you to a better knowledge of just what is wanted. Let us know how you like this idea.

Editorial comments follow: (In instances where editors have not confined themselves to just one story, much may be learned by careful comparison of those named.)

Joseph T. Shaw, Black Mask:
Your request to select a “model” story in the July Black Mask, or in almost any issue, for that matter, cannot be fairly done without a word of explanation. You see, we follow the principle of “no dud in any issue”; therefore it is rarely that any one story stands out markedly from any other or all of the balance, although we hope that the magazine itself, as a whole, does.

So far as the writers permit, we select for an issue the best of as many types as are available; in consequence, readers naturally have preference for one over another in accordance with their individual tastes, and all may be equally good as to workmanship quality. There is a story in the July issue, however, which can be pointed to for a specific reason. It is “Nothing Personal,” by H.H. Stinson.

If a new writer should ask me to suggest what might be interesting to our readers, I would probably mention anything but what Mr. Stinson has in his story, in the way of characters, by name or position—that is, a reporter, an editor, a tough police official, and so on. They have been used so many, many times.

Yet Mr. Stinson has done something with these familiar identities, with the ordinary action, which, to many readers, will make this an outstanding, a “model” story, in any company. The one word to describe it is “treatment.” He has brought every one of his characters vitally alive. The fact that they are this, that or the other is less important than that they are “real” personages; not once do they speak, act or react out of character—with a more or less commonplace setup, his handling of story detail, of constant menace, of action, is masterly. One careful reader refers to one of his scenes as the most vivid, the best of its type since Hammett told about Ned Beaumont in The Glass Key.

The fact that Mr. Stinson is himself a newspaper man, a police reporter on one of the big Los Angeles papers, may have contributed to the sense of reality which he has infused into the story.

But it isn’t every newspaperman who can make a story live and throb like this one. If it were, editors would have an easier time.

A “model” story. No—except for treatment A marvelously entertaining and vital one? Yes—decidedly yes.