A column recently shot across the United States bringing a hitherto unknown side of pulp writing to light. This choice bit of reporting flowed from the pen of the writer’s friend, Mr. Odd McIntyre, and to say the very least, it is very odd.
“A weird offshoot of magazine publishing is evidenced in a ‘pulp periodical’ factory in New York. A company which publishes a string of cheap fiction thrillers has reduced writing to a fine commercial art. Every possible historic plot has been catalogued, and copies are furnished a group of writers who punch the clock like factory hands.
“There are magazines about the West, the sea, the jungles, etc. At the head of the writing staff there is a sort of city editor who apportions each day’s work, telling one to write a sea story, using plot Number 4; another a wild west thriller, plot Number 11; and so on.
“Plots of the world’s best literature are so twisted that ‘Ivanhoe’ becomes ‘Rutledges Red Revenge.’ And the ‘Merchant of Venice’ becomes ‘Love in the Jungle.’
“The men work on salary, like newspapermen, and must turn in so many thousands of words a day. Since the plots are furnished, they only want men who are swift in grinding out copy.”
Mr. McIntyre is about due for a new espionage staff. The old one he must control is growing rather rusty, training on crude oil or banana oil or something of the sort. Their reports of late have been growing more and more ludicrous.
Recently, Mr. McIntyre stated that the kingpin of the pulps was making thirty thousand a year, a fact which is very interesting and surprising to the kingpin himself who has had to answer many, many embarrassing questions from various sources to eradicate that statement about Arthur J. Burks.
But never mind, we’re thinking about this pulp factory. I have been trying very hard to find out who runs this plant because I would like very much to get into it myself. But evidently Mr. McIntyre has a better source than I have, as I only write for the pulps for a living.
My information must be very limited. In fact I have not written for anybody but the Big Five and the little five and a few others. Dell, Standard, Street & Smith, Munsey, and last but not least: Popular, have seen fit at one time and another to print my stories in any and all lengths covering every angle of the pulp field but the love story. Other, lesser firms have done the same.
Now I am very angry about all this because it seems to me that some of my companies must have been holding out on me. I think that I ought to rate being on a staff which writes to Plot Number 4, 6, or maybe 9. That would be so simple, you see, and I would never have to worry about things like rent and hospital bills and new shoes for the kids. Somebody is obviously holding out on me.
But all foolish remarks to the contrary, I wish all these columnists, in their lofty heights of literarity, would stick to their last. There has been another one of these pulp-attack epidemics going the rounds and it seems to be catching. THE AMERICAN MERCURY published a very good article on the subject which was rather true and fair but altogether too bitter.
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