Vintage Writing Instruction

A podcast of classic articles on writing fiction.

All Episodes

Episode 46 - 05/17/2024

Mystery Stories for Children

Mystery Stories for Children, By Ruby Lorraine Radford. Originally appeared in the September 1940 issue of "Writer's Digest."
Episode 45 - 02/08/2024

Overstrain

This is Chapter Seven of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, who was the editor of "Adventure," one of the highest circulating magazines in the heyday of the pulps. Originally published in 1922, now in the public domain. This chapter deals with "overstrain", which is what happens when you make your readers work too hard to understand your story.
Episode 44 - 02/01/2024

Clearness

This is chapter 6 of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, who was the editor of "Adventure," one of the highest circulating magazines in the heyday of the pulps. Originally published in 1922, now in the public domain.
Episode 43 - 01/18/2024

Distractions

This is chapter 5 of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, who was the editor of "Adventure," one of the highest circulating magazine in the heyday of the pulps. Originally published in 1922, now in the public domain.
Episode 42 - 12/21/2023

Your Readers

This is the fourth chapter of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. Originally published in 1922, it is now in the public domain.
Episode 41 - 12/14/2023

Creating the Illusion

This is the third chapter of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. Originally published in 1922, now in the public domain.
Episode 40 - 12/07/2023

A General Survey

This is the second chapter of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. Originally published in 1922, it is now in the public domain.
Episode 39 - 11/30/2023

By Way of Introduction

This is the first chapter of "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" by Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. I'll be posting several chapters from this book over the next few weeks.
Episode 38 - 10/18/2023

The Use of the Subconscious Mind in Fiction

Thoughts on enlisting your subconscious mind to help you write. Originally published in a 1920 issue of "Writer's Monthly". Written by D. G. Baird.
Episode 37 - 09/15/2023

What Makes a Story

By Ewing Cockrell, originally published in the January, 1908 issue of "The Editor". A brief reminder of the important part of telling a story.
Episode 36 - 09/08/2023

The Philosophy of Names

The Philosophy of Names by Florence Tabor Critchlow. From a 1909 issue of "The Editor." Musings on naming your characters.
Episode 35 - 09/07/2023

Letters to a Beginner VI - Stories That Sell.

Sixth and final in a series of a fictitious editor writing to his imaginary son. By Leslie W. Quirk. These letters originally published in 1903-1904 issues of "The Editor."
Episode 34 - 08/16/2023

Letters to a Beginner V - In Quest of a Market

Fifth in a series of a fictitious editor writing to his imaginary son. By Leslie W. Quirk. These letters originally published in 1903-1904 issues of "The Editor."
Episode 33 - 08/15/2023

Letters to a Beginner IV

The fourth letter in the series by Leslie W. Quirk. These letters originally published in 1903-1904 issues of "The Editor."
Episode 32 - 08/11/2023

Letters to a Beginner III, On Punctuation

The third in the series of fictional letters by Leslie W. Quirk. These letters originally published in 1903-1904 issues of "The Editor."
Episode 31 - 08/11/2023

Letters to a Beginner II

Another of the series of fictional letters by Leslie W. Quirk. These letters originally published in 1903-1904 issues of "The Editor."
Episode 30 - 07/17/2023

Letters to a Beginner I

Written by the editor of "The Editor", these are letters from a fictional father who happens to be an editor to his equally fictional son as the son begins a writing career.
Episode 29 - 04/07/2023

The Psychology of the Happy Ending

"The Psychology of the Happy Ending", by James Melvin Lee. From the September 1908 issue of "The Editor."
Episode 28 - 03/15/2023

The Expression of Pathos

The Expression of Pathos by Emily Vaile. From the May, 1908 issue of "The Editor."
Episode 27 - 02/10/2023

A Simple Means to True Psychosis

A Simple Means to True Psychosis, by George Law. Some considerations for making characters feel more real.
Episode 26 - 11/22/2022

My Murder Chart

"My Murder Chart" by Whitman Chambers. How one successful writer plans the crimes in his novels. From September and October 1933 issues of "Writer's Digest."
Episode 25 - 10/26/2022

Strong Sentences

By Arthur E. Lawrence. Originally Published in 1904 in The Editor. Some thoughts on crafting sentences for greater impact.
Episode 24 - 09/21/2022

Building a Plot with Five Questions

By G. Glenwood Clark. Originally published in the September, 1920 Issue of The Writer's Monthly. Taking the plot-germ and growing it into a story.
Episode 23 - 09/01/2022

Getting Into Print

Today's article is "Getting Into Print" by famed author Jack London. Originally Printed in the March 1903 Issue of The Editor, and now in the public domain.
Episode 22 - 08/21/2022

A Climax by Suggestion

Today's article is, "A Climax by Suggestion," by J. Albert Mallory. It originally appeared in the June 1908 issue of "The Editor." and is now in the public domain.
Episode 21 - 07/14/2022

Quiet, Murder at Work!

By C. William Harrison Originally Published in the July, 1944 issue of Writer's Digest, now in the public domain. Being a writer vs an author of crime fiction.
Episode 20 - 06/08/2022

The Elements of Appeal

By Arthur Wallace Peach. Originally published in the December, 1908 issue of "The Editor". A quick discussion of some things that will never go out of style in fiction.
Episode 19 - 06/01/2022

Turning People into Checks

By Bill Rendered. Originally published in The Writer's Monthly in 1920, and is now in the public domain. I strongly suspect the author's name was just a joke pseudonym of the magazine's editor, or another anonymous author.
Episode 18 - 05/26/2022

Horror in the Short Story

By Leon Mones, originally published in the February 25, 1918 issue of "The Editor." Brief discussion of how to shape a horror story for emotional impact.
Episode 17 - 05/12/2022

Wave Those Tags

By Lester Dent. From "The Writer’s 1940 Year Book" This was a follow up to his now-famous Master Pulp Plot, and now in the public domain.
Episode 16 - 05/04/2022

Break it Up!

Thoughts on writing better dialogue. By that master of spicy detective stories, Robert Leslie Bellem. Originally published in the July 1944 issue of Writer’s Digest. Now in the public domain.
Episode 15 - 04/27/2022

Drama in the Short Story

By John Gallishaw. From Twenty Problems of the Fiction Writer, which is now in the public domain. This article presents the origin of the Scene/Sequel method which would later be popularized by Dwight V. Swain. It describes a way to plan scenes such that the plot is continually moving forward and is providing interesting events for the reader.
Episode 14 - 04/22/2022

The Science Fiction Field

By Leigh Brackett. Originally published in the July 1944 issue of "Writer’s Digest," now in the public domain. Winner of the 2020 Retro Hugo Award for Related Work.
Episode 13 - 04/21/2022

How to Make a Story Interesting

By John Gallishaw. Excerpted from "Twenty Problems of the Fiction Writer" published in 1929 and now in the public domain. One of the best articles I have ever found on what makes readers interested in reading your story.
Episode 12 - 04/21/2022

Should You Write Pot Boilers?

It's an age-old debate. Should you strive to impress the literary fiction masters, or write for the common folk? By Thomas H. Uzzell. Originally published in March 1925 issue of "Writer’s Digest."
Episode 11 - 04/21/2022

What is Interest?

What types of stories arouse interest in readers? By Barry Scobee. Originally published in the June 1916 issue of "The Writer’s Monthly".
Episode 10 - 04/21/2022

A Word About Setting

Setting is not just about accurately describing the physical nature of a time and place, it is also about instilling a feeling in the reader. By Sara H. Sterling. Originally published in the January 1916 issue of "The Writer’s Monthly"
Episode 9 - 04/21/2022

Why Stories are Rejected

Many rejected stories shared similar weaknesses. By Ward Macauley. Originally published in the April 1903 issue of "The Editor."
Episode 8 - 04/21/2022

The Dramatic and the Undramatic

What kind of drama actually makes a story interesting? By Louise Montgomery. Originally published in the April 8th, 1922 issue of The Editor
Episode 7 - 04/21/2022

Short Story Introductions

Different ways to start a short story. From The Editor, July, 1918. By R. C. Woodbury
Episode 6 - 04/21/2022

Breath of Life

By Marian B. Cockrell. This was published in Writer’s Digest August, 1943, and is now in the public domain. This one is kind of light on how-to details, but is an important concept to consider. It’s hard to get someone to read a story if he isn’t interested in the characters. Marian ended up writing often for TV, including a few episodes from the original Batman TV show.
Episode 5 - 04/21/2022

Let Yourself Go

By James H. S. Moynahan in 1940
Episode 4 - 04/21/2022

A Very Simple System

By William Benton Johnston.
Episode 3 - 04/21/2022

Get That Novel Out of Your System

How one writer got started, with writing tips sprinkled throughout. By Marjorie Holmes.
Episode 2 - 04/21/2022

It's All a Matter of Timing

A simple framework for writing a short story. Useful in any practically any genre. By Nelson S. Bond.
Episode 1 - 04/20/2022

Introduction to Vintage Writing Instruction

A short introduction to this podcast. What you should expect, and why I'm doing it.