Glengarry Glen Keeler
There is, fortunately, a simple rule that can be taught with which the plotbuilder may test out the worthiness of his product. It's a very simple rule. It's a rule that will definitely determine if your plot (or novel) can be sold. It is:
Has the plot (or novel)—
—Harry Stephen Keeler, "How to Write Booklength Myster Stories" (from the Writer's 1931 Year Book and Market Guide), Keeler News No. 74 (courtesy Richard Polt and Doug Anderson)
I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE SCENE AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT ESSENTIAL? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?
IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME UP.
—David Mamet, memo to writers of CBS's The Unit
(via Matt Singer)