MANUSCRIPTS AND MARKETS
It is in the hope of directing you to your market that this chapter is designed. But there is no form of writing for which it is more difficult to point out a sure market than for vaudeville material. Even the legitimate stage—with its notorious shifting of plans to meet every veering wind—is not more fickle than the vaudeville stage. The reason for this is, of course, to be found in the fact that the stage must mirror the mind of the nation, and the national mind is ever changing. But once let the public learn to love what you have given them, and they will not jilt your offering in a day. The great advantage the writer of vaudeville material today has over every one of his predecessors, lies in the fact that the modern methods of handling the vaudeville business lend him security in the profits of his success.
1. Preparing the Manuscript
(a) The acceptable manuscript forms into which all vaudeville material may be cast may be learned by consulting the examples of the different vaudeville acts given in the appendix to this volume. A moment’s examination of them will show you that there is no difference between the manuscript ways of presenting the different acts. All are made up of the names of characters, business and dialogue. Therefore they may all be discussed at the same time.
(b) Have your manuscript typewritten. This suggestion has the force of law. While it would seem self-evident that a manuscript written out in long hand has a mussy appearance, however neat the writing may be, the many hand-written manuscripts I have tried to read suggest the necessity for pointing out this fact. You surely handicap your manuscript by offering it in long hand to a busy producer.
(c) The two recognized methods for the typing of stage manuscripts. First, the entire manuscript is typed in black, blue or purple. Then, after the manuscript is complete, the name of the character above each speech is underlined in red ink, and every bit of business throughout the manuscript is also underlined in red. This method is illustrated below.
[Here, text originally underlined in red appear in all CAPS.]
GRAVES. Yes. (TURNS TO DICTIONARY)
(ELLEN, THOUGH CURIOUS, CONTINUES READING
IN AN UNDERTONE TO HER FATHER, MARLIN
AND JOHN. GRAVES OPENS THE DICTIONARY,
STARTS AT SIGHT OF THE NOTE,
SNATCHES IT UP WITH TREMBLING FINGERS,
AND READS IT. HIS FURY RISES. AFTER
A PAUSE, CRUMPLING THE NOTE, HE TURNS
TO BURTON AND SPEAKS WITH AN EFFORT)
BY HIS TONE, THE OTHERS TURN AND
REGARD GRAVES CURIOUSLY)
BURTON. Yes, sir.