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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 421 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.

“All right; now, there’s got to be an incident that’ll give Dugan his chance to ‘railroad’ The Eel, and a money-society turn is always good, so we have Mrs. Worthington and the necklace, with Goldie, the suspected maid, who casts suspicion on The Eel.  Dugan ‘plants’ it all, gets the necklace himself, tries to lay it to The Eel, and win Goldie besides—­but a dictograph shows him up.  Now a man-to-man struggle between Dugan and The Eel for good old melodrama.  The Eel is losing, in comes the Inspector and saves him—­Dugan caught—­triumph of the honest police—­and Goldie and The Eel free to start life anew together.  That’s about it—­for a starter, anyway.

“Re-read these dramatic incidents carefully, compare them with the incidents of the suggestive case as the newspapers reported them, and you will see not only where a playwright may get a germ idea, but how his mind works in casting it into stage form.

The first thing that strikes you is the dissimilarity of the two stories; the second, the greater dramatic effectiveness of the plot the playlet-writer’s mind has evolved; third, that needless incidents have been cut away; fourth, that the very premise of the story, and all the succeeding incidents, lead you to recognize them in the light of the denouement as the logical first step and succeeding steps of which the final scene is inevitably the last; fifth, however many doubts may hover around the story of the suggesting incident, there is no cloud of doubt about the perfect justice of the stage story; and, sixth, that while you greet the ending of the suggesting story with a feeling of repugnance, the final scene of the stage story makes the whole clearly, happily and pleasantly true—­truer than life itself, to human hearts which forever aspire after what we sometimes sadly call “poetic justice.”

Now, in a few short paragraphs, we may sum up the answer to the question which opens this chapter, and answer the other two questions as well.  A playlet writer may get the germ of a playlet idea:  from half-ideas suggested by the necessity of fitting certain players; directly from his own imagination; from the newspapers; from what someone tells him, or from his observation of incidents that come under his personal notice; from experiences that happen to him—­in fact, from anywhere.

IV.  HOW A PLAYLET WRITER RECOGNIZES A PLAYLET IDEA

A playlet writer recognizes that the character or characters, the incident or incidents, possess a funny, serious or tragic grip, and the fact that he, himself, is gripped, is evidence that a playlet is “there,” if—­IF—­he can trust his own dramatic instinct.  A playlet writer recognizes an idea as a playlet idea, because he is able so to recognize such an idea; there is no escape from this:  YOU MUST POSSESS DRAMATIC INSTINCT [1] to recognize playlet ideas and write playlets.

[1] See the following chapter on “The Dramatic—­the Vital Element of Plot.”

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