In Secrets of The World’s Best-Selling Writer: The Storytelling Techniques of Erle Stanley Gardner by Francis L. & Roberta B. Fugate, the flap boasts: All the hard-earned storytelling skills of Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason and still the world’s biggest-selling writer, are revealed in this informative, entertaining, and instructive book … and that’s the truth!
I read this book back in the 80’s and it’s one that’s stayed with me. Probably because Gardner was a writing machine. When Gardner first started studying writing, he came across a book called The Fiction Factory by William Wallace Cook. I just found The Fiction Factory online—downloadable. Go HERE. This little book was published under the pseudonym John Milton Edwards, copyright 1912. What’s fascinating is how Cook was such a major force in molding Gardner’s writing career.
Gardner became a writing machine, hiring one secretary, two and eventually seven. Being a lawyer, he was used to dictating so I guess his storytelling skills were perfected the more he dictated. Chapter 8 in Secrets of TWBSW is called The Fiction Factory; it’s inspiring. Made me want to try dictating my own stories. Now that I have Dragon 11, maybe I’ll give it a shot--from scratch. Funny though, once Gardner started churning out books, he got letters from writers (or wannabes) wanting to join his stable of writers. They thought he had hired people to write his books for him. In fact, on page 110 of Secrets of TWBSW, the authors state: At this point, Thayer Hobson of William Morrow and Company offered $100,000 reward for proof that anyone but Erle Stanley Gardner ever wrote any of Gardner’s material. There were no takers.
If you can get your hands on Secrets of The Word’s Best-Selling Writer, do so. It’s a great read.
Now I have a question for you: Does it bother you when you read stories where the characters don’t use cell phones or do research on the Internet or have digital cameras, etc? If you have older short stories, do you update them or put dates on them so readers will know when they took place?
I have a mystery that utilizes a Polaroid camera, video stores and no cell phones. Rather outdated, I’d say, and I’m wondering what to do. Advice?