Tips for the Well-Mannered Writer

I love Project Gutenberg. This site has an ongoing project of digitizing works from the past that have fallen into public domain. The works are then made available—for free download—in Kindle, Epub, or text format. You can also read the books online. There are man classics of world literature available, but it’s the small, quirky, period books I find most interesting. If you write historical fiction, Project Gutenberg offers a treasure trove of research material from the 1700s on. Via Feedly, I get an alert on their latest digitized titles. Many of them don’t interest me, i.e., titles like The Fern Lover’s Companion: A Guide for the Northeastern States and Canada and A Treatise on the Origin, Progress, Prevention, and Cure of Dry Rot in Timber. But every now and then a title catches my eye and I go in for a peek at the text. The other day it was The Woman and the Car, published in 1909, and described as “A chatty little handbook for all women who motor or who want to motor.”

Source: Tips for the Well-Mannered Writer

2 thoughts on “Tips for the Well-Mannered Writer

  1. Sorry, it took me a little while to go back to James Scott Bell’s blog for the answer, Valentina. Here is what it said: “But every now and then a title catches my eye and I go in for a peek at the text. The other day it was The Woman and the Car, published in 1909, and described as “A chatty little handbook for all women who motor or who want to motor.”

    Having written about that period, I gave the book a peruse. It has a chapter on proper dress, filled with details that could be used to great effect in a novel.

    In another chapter, it gives specific instructions on how to start a car:

    In front of the car you will notice a handle. Push it inwards until you feel it fit into a notch, then pull it up sharply, releasing your hold of the handle the moment you feel you have pulled it over the resisting (compression) point. Unless starting a car fitted with magneto ignition, on no account press down the handle—always pull it upwards, smartly and sharply. If it is pressed down the possibility of a backfire is greater—and a broken arm may result.

    Then there’s a chapter on “Motor Manners.” Some of the rules of courteous driving behavior are worthy of note:

    If the road is wet, give pedestrians and cyclists a wide berth so as not to splash them with mud.

    Avoid the bad and perilous habit of trying to squeeze through doubtful openings in traffic.

    Remember, however, that it is necessary to sound the hooter when coming up behind and intending to pass a pedestrian or a vehicle…A hooter is meant to give warning, not to startle people.” Hope that helps!

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