Write more pulp!

Back in the days before television, people turned to the pulps to fire their imaginations. Pulp authors sold completed stories, paid by the word, full of mystery and adventure. Lester Dent, originator of the Doc Savage series, famously wrote 165 full-length novels in that series, one a month over 17 years!

Today, the pulp ethic lives on: good stories, written quickly and efficiently, sold to a demanding market.

Years ago, Lester Dent shared his "Short Story Master Formula". While it's not the only way to write a short story, it's a good way! As Mr. Dent wrote about it:

This is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words.

No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell.

The phrase "formulaic fiction" has become a byword of contempt, promoted by literary fiction snobs and the MFA industry. We envision a pulp writer as a lonely hack, bent over his typewriter in a New York garret (the one with the leaky roof), smoking his last cigarette and flicking the ashes onto his manuscript. While this may have been true of some pulp writers, especially when they were getting started, what about Lester Dent? Where was he writing his stories? Well, when he wasn't traveling around the world, he may have been found in the Caribbean on his 40-foot schooner, searching for sunken treasure by day, writing stories by night. Wrote Mr. Dent:

The business of building stories seems not much different from the business of building anything else.

So how can you write like Lester Dent? Get out there and write! Write horrible stuff, and then learn, and write some more! Find a market to sell your stories, then write some more. Write! Write! Write!

To that end, I present the Lester Dent Short Story Master Formula Plot Generator. Try this: outline one story every day for a week, then the next week, take the best outline and write a story from it. Rinse, repeat, and write!

To the generator!