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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER VI The Detective Story

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER VI The Detective Story

THE marvelous success of Dr. Doyle, principally with his " Sherlock Holmes," has flooded the market with detective stories of every class and grade, most of them too improbable to be interesting and entertaining.

No one can write an acceptable detective story, unless he has the detective instinct, which he may possess without being a professional detective.

I would not advise the young writer to attempt a story of a detective nature, unless some detective or officer has outlined the scheme for him, until he has come in contact with those things which make up a detective's work.

He cannot be realistic, unless he has lived in the atmosphere of crime, either as a detective or officer, or in close association with it.

He may be able to produce, in his imagination, a detective story which reads smoothly to the average reader; but it is obvious that his imperfectly constructed scheme will meet with harsh criticisms from newspaper men and others, who will readily detect the writer's inexperience and unfamiliarity with the subject. Here, as in other places, I would advise the young writer not to attempt anything out of the ordinary in the way of plot, until he becomes familiar with necessary conditions, and has a mind adaptable to them. When in doubt, keep in the middle of the road of literature. Geniuses and experts only have the right of way over the sidetracks and bypaths.