Route 1, Box 452
December 4, 1937
It’s been quite a while since I’ve zipped a letter your way and of course I wouldn’t do it unless I had something to tell you about.
And so, with hopes for the health of your family and bank account, I plunge into the subject.
I have just found out something with which to repay that very kind favor of yours anent the “lift” angle on stories, and while I was working this out, I recalled something you said about your work before you slowed down and stopped key pounding. That you did stop has always been a source of puzzlement to me because you are an excellent technician.
This all sounds very serious, but it is serious because I recently found myself heading for the same impasse and after studying the situation out I came to a conclusion which is so ridiculous in its simplicity that it cannot help but be right. And my astonishment is not small that it has not been bannered before this. But I am not bannering it except to you, and as I respected your confidence in the “lift” analysis, respect mine in this....
If you take a squint at an ARGOSY which will be out shortly––I don’t know just when and it may be out now––you’ll find ORDERS IS ORDERS, 28,000, China, USMC. In it I adapted movie script writing to fiction writing, which is beside the main point as all my stuff is coming that way today.
But attend! I rolled one, 20,000, called THE CARGO OF COFFINS. It wasn’t a very good technical job as I was monkeying with a situation I found in Casanova. It was a very unique piece of styling. But it was actually a second-rater. But ARGOSY ate it without comment.
Attend! ORDERS IS ORDERS is definitely first-rate technically and has plenty of color and suspense.
ARGOSY says nothing about A CARGO OF COFFINS. But when they accepted ORDERS IS ORDERS, they commented to the effect that my Japanese were a shade too villainous, etc., etc., all comment on character as most of my comment has been.
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