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How to Become a Writer-Salesman

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Eagerness Defeats Itself

"Beware of no man more than yourself: We carry our worst enemies within us." óC. H. Spurgeon.

"The fifth fault of the untrained writer lies in his desire to begin at a point of specialized interest to himself in lieu of a point of general interest to the majority of his readers; in other words, a business man selling flowers is very apt to begin his sales talk by offering a bouquet of roses at a certain price, or a Panama hat at a certain price, forgetting that the associations connected with a bouquet of roses (or a Panama hat) are infinitely more interesting to the great majority of people than the products in themselves.

"A thousand men in a city, let us say, buy flowers. They know what they want and they know about the price they should pay for what they want, and these thousand people are probably interested enough in a bouquet of roses offered at a dollar (if that happens to be a good deal below the regular market price). Ten thousand other people, however, do not buy flowers, and are not interested primarily either in a bouquet of roses or the price mark of one dollar. That means they would pick up such a piece of advertising matter and throw it down without being in the least bit interested in the specialized appeal of the flower man.

"Those ten thousand people, however, comprise men and women, who, in the natural course of events, have social gatherings and meetings, people who have love affairs, who consummate marriages, christen babies, bury friends, relatives, etc. If they are approached at a point of general interest explaining the function of flowers or the import of flowers in circumstances that touch their lives, they are at once interested. By just such means can a large proportion of those ten thousand non-buyers be made buyers.

Words, Like Two-Edged Swords, Cut Both Ways

"Talent is something, but fact is everything." óW, P. Sargill.

"The sixth fault of the untrained writer lies in a certain tactlessness brought about by an unhappy choice of words to express his thought. For instance, a prominent hotel, in one of its letters asking for guests, states that patrons are permitted to ride in the hotel bus.' 'Permitted' is a patronizing and condescending word which is certainly not modified by the words 'at our expense' being added; this hotel, in fact, by unfortunate phrasing, succeeds in imparting a kind of charitable idea to the whole transaction. This, of course, is not what is desired; it is nevertheless what is brought about.

Lack of Coherence

"Logic is the art of thinking well." óLord Kanies.

"The seventh fault of the untrained writer lies in his inability to grasp the whole subject in his mind from start to finish before he begins to write. As a consequence his points are not arranged and expressed in logical consecutive order, but resemble a musical effort with promising strains of melody constantly interrupted by discords. The thought of the untrained writer is about ten words long. He puts it down. Another thought crops up, in no way relating to the first, or, bearing a very strained relation to it, but that goes down too. As a consequence we have a collection of differing thoughts all thrown together and forming a veritable literary or advertising 'chop-suey.'

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