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How To Write Moving Picture Plays

While browsing through the public domain books in the Google library, I found one called How to Write Moving Picture Plays that was written in 1914 by William Lewis Gordon. It has some good advice (Is your climax strong enough?), some common sense advice (Write only on one side of the paper.), and some advice that is now laughably bad.

Here is the first paragraph of the section called "Kinds of Plays to Avoid."

Avoid any scenes or suggestive complications that may offend good taste or morals. Avoid scenes of murder, suicide, robbery, kidnapping, harrowing deathbeds, horrible accidents, persons being tortured, scenes attending an electrocution or hanging, violent fights showing strangling, shooting, or stabbing, staggering drunkards, depraved or wayward women, rioting strikers, funerals, and all such scenes of a depressing or unpleasant nature. Do not make a hero of a highwayman or escaped convict. Do not reflect upon any religious belief, nationality, or physical deformity. Thousands of men, women, and CHILDREN of all classes, nationalities, and creeds witness these pictures daily. We may occasionally see some play depicted which is contrary to the above advice, but they are the exceptions, and are to be avoided. Give your story a clean, wholesome, pleasant tone, leaving the few morbid tales for others to write. These tales of crime are growing less every day, and consequently the photoplay is growing better.

Quentin Tarantino would have no career!

It’s a quick, fun, 26 page read.

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