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MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE: _SCORPIONS_
December 15, 2011 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Want to write a pulp novel full of two fisted tales of action and adventure in the mode of Doc Savage but don't know where to start? You need the Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot! "No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell."
posted by Artw (37 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite

 
You will never match these, though.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on December 15, 2011


Two-fisted tales of action and adventure in the mode of Dan Savage?

...oh.
posted by oulipian at 10:05 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is ...uh relevant to my interests.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on December 15, 2011


Scribes who have their villain's victims found with butterflies, spiders or bats stamped on them could conceivably be flirting with this gag.

However, hamsters and bearded dragons don't qualify.
posted by brundlefly at 10:09 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


3--Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible.

I have definitely noticed this in Edwardian litrachure (Christie and Sayers, say). The first two pages are crammed with every conceivable person the author might need later. It's like variable declarations, only less readable.
posted by DU at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


The idea is to avoid monotony.

It seems like after 4500 words of grief-shoveling and logical plot twists, this wouldn't be a problem.
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sweet!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:18 AM on December 15, 2011


How to Write a Book in Three Days: Lessons from Michael Moorcock (also mentions the Lester Dent plot formula).
posted by fings at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Probably it won't do a lot of good to be too odd, fanciful or grotesque with murder methods.

Would love to show him the Saw movies.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2011


Well I'll be superamalgamated, nice post!
posted by chaff at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually saw a version of this (with drop-in answers on a roll table) for D20 role playing games. Was in "D20 Modern: Thrilling Tales Game Masters Guide to Pulp Adventure". It's definitely an interesting system, and after working with it a little it's clear that it would certainly work for generating stories quickly.
posted by dethb0y at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is going to be a game-changer for Fiction Fights.
posted by Shepherd at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2011


I have this tucked away for a long weekend project sometime. I think it would be fun to do a series of 6K word stories following the formula but with wildly varying genre.
posted by thedaniel at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


For Doc aficionados, the Formula is old hat, but dang its great to see a new Doc thread on Metafilter.
posted by Billiken at 10:43 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd been going to mention something that had been lurking on my mental reading list, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril which pits Dent against Walter Gibson, creator of the Shadow, in the events following the horrible murder of H.P. Lovecraft. But then I got lost in the discovery that its author, Paul Malmont, has a new book, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown about Heinlein, Hubbard, Asimov and de Camp racing against Nazis to rediscover the lost secrets of Tesla.

I think I have a new favorite author and I haven't even read him yet.
posted by Zed at 10:48 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Granted, this probably works better for short fiction than novels, but a lot of modern writers could really take this advice to heart. There are lots of genre folks who really love dinking around with their elaborate constructed universes, and their 1,200 page, multi-volume epics, but there's something to be said for just moving the damn plot along.

...Paul Malmont, has a new book, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown about Heinlein, Hubbard, Asimov and de Camp racing against Nazis to rediscover the lost secrets of Tesla.

That's actually the exact same plot as "Green Fire," by Michael Swanwick, Eileen Gunn, Pat Murphy, and Andy Duncan: Asimov, Heinlein, de Camp, and Grace Hopper get involved with the Philadelphia Experiment. And then dinosaurs show up.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2011


I am going to write a story using one of these templates, I swear.
posted by Xoebe at 11:04 AM on December 15, 2011


The Astounding Case of the Shoveling Menace
posted by notyou at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Terrible Secret Of Metafilter.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on December 15, 2011


thedaniel: My immediate impulse was to try to use this formula to write a quiet psychological character study. Think "Doc Savage and the Remains of the Day." I wonder what would happen.
posted by rusty at 11:25 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am going to write a story using one of these templates, I swear.

They seem totally workable and if I didn't have my own plotting thing basically down I totally would.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2011


What's your plotting thing? HOW DOES IT WORK?
posted by RobotHero at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2011


I usually hate this, but I can't help myself

Metafilter: Shovel more grief onto the hero
posted by thelonius at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't find a link for it now, but I once copied some Javascript from a website ( Matt Cote Brain Child Web Design ) for a Random Story Generator.

I made a perl version.

Here's a sample of the output:
    My main character/protagonist is a male. My main character is a surgeon. An archetype present in my story is Super Hero. A key symbol or object in my story is a trout. My story will be set in an attic. My story is about confusion.
Here's the story I wrote:
    Walk carefully up the steps to Dr. Moore's attic. Dr. Moore has many sharp instruments. He may not recognize you. He may mistake you for the trout he is preparing to dissect. Although you may feel immortal, your life is in danger.
If anyone wants the code, I'll post links to it, both JS and Perl versions.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:35 PM on December 15, 2011


What's your plotting thing? HOW DOES IT WORK?

I use the most powerful plot template of all... THE HUMAN BRAIN.

Seriously though... if you spend some time putting together and taking apart plot driven stories this stuff eventual becomes internalized and intuitive. Which is part of the reason something like this is of interest to me. Of course, it all becomes a little toxic if you push it too far and start claiming some formula is the only way to tell stories (looking at you, the entirety of Hollywood).
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2011


This is very cool, thanks Artw!
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:03 PM on December 15, 2011


I've developed a methodology for writing a 100,000-word thriller in ten days, from first concept to finished print-ready manuscript. I've been hawking it around publishers for three years along with a business model that answers the 'Why?' question, and have finally found a client, and we delivered the first manuscript yesterday.

And it's based on two main things: (1) metastructures such as Lester Dent's or the Hero's Journey, and (2) a small crew of writers who work really fast.

One of my old writing partners, back in the early 90s, could produce a trilogy of YA novels in a month. Nevertheless Moorcock's speed of output is still mind-boggling. And the fact Samuel Johnson wrote Rasselas in a week is enough to put one off writing forever—or take it as a challenge.
posted by Hogshead at 5:20 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am certain that if the author had followed this advice, A Song of Ice and Fire would have been 1000% better. Likewise Perdido Street Station.
posted by happyroach at 6:02 PM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


And here I've been all proud of my 4½ hand-written pages across the past two mornings... they're really good pages.
posted by Zed at 8:00 PM on December 15, 2011


Okay, this is definitely going on my To-Do list. I have five months left in my fiction-a-day project, and this sounds like it might be fun to try.
posted by MShades at 4:15 AM on December 16, 2011


Hero should accomplish something with his tearing around, if only to rescue Eloise, and surprise! Eloise is a ring-tailed monkey. The hero counts the rings on Eloise's tail, if nothing better comes to mind.

They're not real. The rings are painted there. Why?


A question for the ages.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:25 AM on December 16, 2011


Would work well for the next Nanowrimo!
posted by storybored at 11:04 AM on December 16, 2011


Lemurs have their own lost continent, maybe the rings are a clue to it's location?
posted by Artw at 7:51 AM on December 19, 2011


The rings are a binary code; input those values into the Antikythera mechanism and it will tell you the exact moment the world ends.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:11 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW, should you ever want a guide to Lovecraftian storytelling that really breaks things down you should totally check out Stealing Cthulhu - it's primarily for RPGs but could have general applications.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on January 3, 2012


Stealing Cthulhu, stealing Cthulhu
You'll come a-stealing Cthulhu with me

never mind
posted by Zed at 9:40 AM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's good to the point where I worry it might damage my enjoyment of some of my favourite kinds of story by making them seem too mechanical.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on January 4, 2012


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