Note To The Reader

This book can be valuable to the new writer. It provides insights into category fiction, offers suggestions not to be found elsewhere, and ought to save you time and rejection slips on the way to a sound, professional writing career. I will be pleased to hear from anyone who, having read the book, feels he's gained from it. However, spare me letters that say:

—"You forgot to mention theme!" I didn't forget. I neglected it on purpose. The theme, the "meaning" of a story, is not something you can sit down and plan out ahead of time. Or, anyhow, it shouldn't be. Theme should grow from your characters and your plot, naturally, almost subconsciously. If you sit down to deliver a Great Message to the reader, above all else, then you are an essayist, not a novelist.

—"Some of these writers whose books you recommend are not really that terribly good." I know. For the most part, I've tried to point you to the best people in each field. But, occasionally, a mediocre writer achieves such stunning success that he must be mentioned in the discussion of his genre. If, out of the hundreds of books I recommend, I steer you to a couple of bums, please realize that you can learn something from those bums, if only the taste of a large part of that genre's readership.

-"You list seven science fiction plot types, but I have found an eighth!" Okay. But it may be the only one of its kind; and with enough thought and enough familiarity with the field-Western, suspense, science fiction or whatever—you probably will find it fits into my list just fine.

—"You don't show us how to make writing easy!" I know I don't. It's hard work, and it's frustrating, and it's lonely. I'm writing this to inform you, not deceive you. So set to work, and good luck!

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