Genesis of a Story

Once in a long while a story begins as a situation: as a tangle, a conflict, to be unwound, fought out. But almost always the story arrives as a whole – without any planning whatever, the story is suddenly there, a big blurry mass of pictures and incidents and action, that must be splattered down in black and white as fast as you can possibly write. It goes racing by like a runaway movie film and the best you can do is to snatch at the most significant moments, before they escape. Therefore the idea for a story is not an idea; it is the story itself. (With a serial, which must have a succession of ascending climaxes, a rough outline is made and followed, after the big scenes and the principal action are jotted down.)

American writer of fiction, short stories, bibliographies and periodicals. 1874 – 1931