Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Sep 28, 2011

Tips for the budding writers, published 142 years ago !

Tips for the budding writers, published 142 years ago


WHATEVER you have to say, my friend,

Whether witty, or grave, or gay,
Condense as much as ever you can,
And say in the readiest way;
And whether you write of rural affairs,
Or particular things in town
Just take a word of friendly advice-
Boil it down.

For if you go on sputtering over a page
When a couple of lines would do,
Your butter is spread so much you see,
That the bread looks plainly through.
So when you have a story to tell,
And would like a little renown,
To make quite sure of your wish, my friend,
Boil it down.

When writing an article for the press,
Whether prose or verse, just try
To utter your thoughts in the fewest words,
And let them be crisp and dry;
And when it is finished and you suppose
It's done exactly brown,
Just look over it again, and then,
Boil it down.

For editors do not like to print
An article lazily long,
And the general reader does not care
For a couple of yards of song;
So gather your wits in the smallest space
If you'd win the author's crown,
And every line you write my friend,
Boil it down.
 (Writer Unknown)

- Published very prominently on page 1 in the top left hand corner. – much to the editor’s delight -  on Thursday, 16th December 1869 in QUEANBEYAN AGE (established in 1860), published from  New South Wales, Australia . 

And now the coincidence: 

About 39 years later, in the same news paper  dated Friday, 15th May, 1908, the following witty piece was published as a dialogue between a writer and his editor - perhaps unknowingly - using  the title of the above poem printed  in 1869 !

"But," protested the space writer, " perhaps you could use this article if I were to boil it down?"
 "Not at all;" rejoined the blue pencil: 

"if you were to take a gallon of water and boil it down to a 
pint, it would still be water."

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