Page:How to write a Short Story.djvu/62

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How to Write a Short Story
 

cigar, and allowing the pocketbook to slip to the floor as you became unconscious, you—suddenly awoke and found it was all a dream; or that in the middle of the night, by some intuitive process, you felt certain that some assailant near at hand was about to murder you in cold blood, and that you lay there quivering—until you fell asleep and woke the next morning to laugh over your active imagination. The climax in all these stories is false, and will not pass muster with a critical editor.

The single good point about this class is that its stories seldom deal with real tragedy. In spite of all the hue and cry for realistic fiction, it is the stories with happy endings that sell. True, the best magazines give space to tragic stories, but they do it, not because tragedy appeals to them, but because the telling is too artistic to risk rejection; in other words, the manner overbalances the matter. But these stories are written by experienced authors, whose positions are secure. The beginner should shun the sad ending.