Lester Dent was a hugely prolific writer of mystery, western, and pulp fiction novels, the most famous being the Doc Savage series in the 1940’s-50’s. In this essay, he lays out the basic rules for constructing a rip-roaring, knockdown adventure story that will leave the reader reeling.
The ideas in the essay are great, but the best part is Dent’s prose; his teaching style is straight out of one of his novels. Here’s an excerpt, where he talks about building suspense and moving the plot along:
“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?”
Why indeed? Dynamite stuff!