How to Write a Blackwood Article (Poe)

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How to Write a Blackwood Article
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman sought advice from a magazine editor on writing an intense article, and he instructed her to experience a dangerous situation and use various literary tones to create a sensational piece.

A woman named Signora Psyche Zenobia was a member of the Philadelphia, Regular, Exchange, Tea, Total, Young, Belles, Lettres, Universal, Experimental, Bibliographical, Association, To, Civilize, Humanity. She was determined to write an article for Blackwood Magazine, a publication known for its sensational and intense writing. To learn the art of writing such articles, she sought advice from Mr. Blackwood himself.

Signora Psyche Zenobia — narrator; aspiring writer; ambitious, eager to learn.
Mr. Blackwood — magazine editor; knowledgeable, sarcastic, and instructive.

Mr. Blackwood explained that the key to writing a successful article was to have a unique and intense experience, and then describe it in a captivating manner. He suggested that she should get herself into a dangerous situation, such as being choked by a chicken bone or attacked by a mad dog. He also advised her to use a variety of tones in her writing, including the laconic, elevated, metaphysical, transcendental, and heterogeneous tones.

In the first place your writer of intensities must have very black ink, and a very big pen, with a very blunt nib.

In addition to the tone, Mr. Blackwood emphasized the importance of filling the article with erudition and obscure facts. He provided her with a list of piquant facts for similes and piquant expressions to be used as needed. These included quotes from various languages, such as French, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin, and Greek, which would give the impression of extensive general knowledge.

The most important portion—in fact, the soul of the whole business, is yet to be attended to—I allude to the filling up.

Following Mr. Blackwood's advice, Signora Psyche Zenobia spent the day wandering around Edinburgh, seeking a dangerous adventure to write about. She was accompanied by her dog, Diana, and her servant, Pompey. It was not until late in the afternoon that she finally found herself in a perilous situation, which she then used as the basis for her Blackwood article.