Monday, February 28, 2011

A Fiction Factory?

During the past day or two, I’ve put old material into the computer—some of it I typed. Some of it I read into Dragon Naturally Speaking 11. I wasn’t sure how well dictation would work since I haven’t used Dragon in months—actually, since the day I installed it. Wow! Pretty cool. How I dreaded re-typing a 4500 word short story. I’m so glad I didn’t have to--I just read from my manuscript and watched the words appear. Though it wasn’t 100% accurate, I’m not disappointed at all. I understand the more I use Dragon, the more accurate it will become. Also, I need to add words to the vocabulary. Needless to say, I’m thrilled with the program. Remember all those short stories I found while cleaning out the garage? And now I’ll get to that novel I’ve been trying to scan—gave up scanning and started typing. Things should start moving pretty fast. The worst part of dictation is that after hours of reading aloud, I get a little hoarse so I’m wondering how in the world Erle Stanley Gardner did it. I decided to find out since I own all his secrets . . .

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?


Sylvia Ney said...

I'm glad the Dragon software is working out for you. I have several friends looking into doing something similar so I'm going to forward your post to them.

Charles Gramlich said...

I want to get that Dragon software. Sounds pretty handy. I did update cold in the light when I had a chance to to include cell phones. Of course, I completely control all technology on Talera and I'm not allowing cell phones. :)

David Cranmer said...

I will have to get the Dragon software. That would make things so much easier while I travel for work.

Carole said...

Dragon software sounds great. Although I don't think I could write like that.

You will probably have to update or make it a period piece which is also cool.