As I Please
Tribune, 17 November 1944
ago, in the course of some remarks on schools of journalism, I carelessly described the
magazine the Writer as being defunct. As a result I have received a
severe letter from its proprietors, who enclose a copy of the November issue of the Writer
and call on me to withdraw my statement.
Plotting without tears. Learn my way. The simplest method ever. Money returned if dissatisfied. 5s. post free.
Inexhaustible plotting method for womens press, 5s. 3d. Gives real mastery. Ten days approval.
PLOTS. Our plots are set out in sequence all ready for write-up, with lengths for each sequence. No remoulding necessary just the requisite clothing of words. All types supplied.
PLOT 5: in vivid scenes. With striking opening lines for actual use in story. Specimen conversation, including authentic dialect . . . Short-short, 5s. Short story, 6s. 6d. Long-complete (with tense, breathless curtains) 5s. 6d.: Radio plays, 10s. 6d. Serial, novel, novelette (chapter by chapter, appropriate prefix, prose or poetical quotations if desired) 15s. 6d. 1 gn.
There are many others. Somebody called Mr Martin Walter claims to have reduced story-construction to an exact science and eventually evolved the Plot Formula according to which his own stories and those of his students throughout the world are constructed . . . . Whether you aspire to write the "literary" story or the popular story, or to produce stories for any existing market, remember that Mr Walters Formula alone tells you just what a "plot" is and how to produce one. The Formula only cost you a guinea, it appears. Then there are the Fleet Street journalists who are prepared to revise your manuscripts for you at 2s. 6d. per thousand words. Nor are the poets forgotten:
I do not wish to say anything offensive, but to anyone who is inclined to respond to the sort of advertisement quoted above, I offer this consideration. If these people really know how to make money out of writing, why arent they just doing it instead of peddling their secret at 5s. a time? Apart from any other consideration, they would be raising up hordes of competitors for themselves. This number of the Writer contains about thirty advertisements of this stamp, and the Writer itself, besides giving advice in its articles, also runs its own Literary Bureau in which manuscripts are criticized by acknowledged experts at so much a thousand words. If each of these various teachers had even ten successful pupils a week, they would between them be letting loose on to the market some fifteen thousand successful writers per annum! Also, isnt it rather curious that the Fleet Street journalists, established authors and well-known novelists who either run these courses or write the testimonials for them are not named or, when named, are seldom or never people whose published work you have seen anywhere. If Bernard Shaw or J. B. Priestley offered to teach you how to make money out of writing, you might feel that there was something in it. But who would buy a bottle of hair restorer from a bald man?
If the Writer wants some more free publicity it shall have it, but I dare say this will do to go on with.
One favourite way of falsifying history nowadays is to alter dates. Maurice Thorez, the French
Communist, has been amnestied by the French Government (he was under sentence for
deserting from the army). Apropos of this, one London newspaper remarks that Thorez
will now be able to return from Moscow, where he has been living in exile for the
last six years.
A correspondent who lacks the competing instinct has sent a copy of Principles or
Prejudices, a sixpenny pamphlet by Kenneth Pickthorn, the Conservative M.P., with
the advice (underlined in red ink): Burn when read.
Aimed at ignorant people, this is meant to imply that Marxism regards individual acquisitiveness as the motive force in history. Marx not only did not say this, he said almost the opposite of it. Much of the pamphlet is an attack on the notion of internationalism, and is backed up by such remarks as: No British statesman should feel himself authorized to spend British blood for the promotion of something superior to British interests. Fortunately, Mr Pickthorn writes too badly to have a very wide appeal, but some of the other pamphleteers in this series are leveller. The Tory Party used always to be known as the stupid party. But the publicists of this group have a fair selection of brains among them, and when Tories grow intelligent it is time to feel for your watch and count your small change.
Copyright The Estate of Eric Blair