Random Documents

Whilst packing “stuff” for my move, I took time to go through everything in my desk. Purge, purge, purge. I eliminated over half the paperwork in folders. Some things I left behind because there’s more storage there than here.

I found some miscellaneous documents I printed from websites. They pertain to writing, so I thought I would share them with you.

The first is How to Write a Pulp Western. Yep. At one time that was an interest of mine. I love pulp fiction, and a good western can make my day. I wonder if my love of westerns is from my teenage years while watching them on television on Sunday mornings/afternoons with my dad. Do you remember Sundays as being the day for westerns?

This document, How to Write a Pulp Western was written by Ben Haas (aka John Benteen). Ben typed this document for his son. I found the information interesting and informative. The article starts off telling you what you need for a successful western: the hero, the villain, and the weenie. The villain is the most important of the three, and the weenie is whatever is the conflict. The typed pages are here:

Rough Edges: How to Write a Pulp Western – Ben Haas

The comments on the blog post are worth reading as well.

Continuing with the theme of pulp fiction, I’m also a fan of noir fiction – especially detective fiction.

A character in my Murder books is a long-time private investigator who is definitely not PC by today’s standards. Some of his language is right out of the 30s. I had a ball trying to find things for him to say that weren’t too over the top. This list of words of Gumshoe Slang is a hoot!

Twists, Slugs and Roscoes: A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang

There are more words on this list of slang from Dirty 30s.

Dirty 30s! – Slang of the 30s

One more for the detective theme. S.S. Van Dine’s 20 Rules for Writing Detective Fiction:

Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Fiction – S.S. Van Dine

I like #7 – There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better.

Next up: Fearmongering Words

I read an article about how danger words and words that evoke fear are effective in keeping a reader hooked in your story. Using the word murdered is better than using the word killed. It evokes a stronger emotion. Supposedly, fear isn’t just an emotion, it’s an effective tool that can send your writing to the next level.

I think this was one of the reasons I decided to use the word Murder in the titles of all my Two Sisters and a Journalist books.

Fearmongering Words Cheat Sheet

And finally, a list of words that denote Flabby Writing.

The funny thing is that because I write “simple,” meaning I use simple words, I kind of like some flabby writing. Most of my characters have humorous elements about them, and they talk flabby. I do like eliminating unnecessary prepositions and prepositional phrases. Adverbs many times get the chop, too. When I had Murder Under Construction edited, the editor nixed the word nefarious. She thought it was too old-fashioned for today’s reader. Hmph. I finally use an interesting word, and she wants to chop it. Stubborn me. Nefarious is still in the book today. 😊


Do you have printouts or links to articles you refer to now and then to give you inspiration or help with your writing? Share!

10 thoughts on “Random Documents

  1. Thanks for this. I’ll add them to my reference material.

    One problem . . . unless I frequently read it, all these helpful things slip from my consciousness.

    The good thing is that a few years later I’ll rediscover them and they will all seem fresh.

    • I have The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot you shared with me on my desktop. It’s the next thing to print and add to my folder.

      You are right, I forgot I had some of these, but I did use the 30s slang quite a bit when I first started writing my P.I. character. And I did enjoy going through the folder and re-reading the material. There’s so much good information out there.

    • A few years ago (like, seven years ago), when I went to the writing workshop, I gathered lots of stuff and read many “how-to” offerings.

      I found that while some can help, other stuff can hinder (Stephen King). Plus, speaking to, or reading about, an author is not always helpful unless they have the same writing style and writing interests as I do.

      Even listening to some authors I like (eg. John Scalzi) is of limited help because his approach to writing and mine are not the same. Meaning that, while I like his books, the way he went about writing them may not necessarily fit with how I write.

      So, while I read a fair amount of how-to, I’m choosy about what I agree with and what I think can help me. Ultimately, like you seem to do, I write what I like the way I like, but keep some of that reference material in mind.

      • Not surprisingly, I agree with you – “I write what I like the way I like.” I’ve learned a lot about writing, and I’ve made loads of changes, but I really am stubborn. I have an audience that doesn’t care that my writing doesn’t follow all the rules or that it is so simple. I like learning new things, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to embrace them.

    • It’s about time you spoke up!! I see you are no longer blogging, and I had no way to say hello when I saw your avatar earlier. How have you been? How are the boys? Wife? I read the blog post I wrote about you the other day and smiled like crazy. 🙂

    • She also didn’t like that I used the term “Pittsburgh left” in reference to a turn at a traffic light. But I left it in the book anyway. A reader will either know what it is, gloss over it, or be curious enough to look it up. I don’t like to use obscure words often, but one or two per book make things interesting.

      I love vinyl records. 🙂 I grew up with them. When I recently bought my bed, the salesman was a young guy – mid twenties maybe – and he told us about his collection of vinyl records. I was impressed!

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