Dwight V. Swain

Dwight Vreeland Swain was born November 17, 1915 to John Edgar Swain, a railroad telegrapher, and Florence Marietta Vreeland. Growing up in Rochester, MI, he showed early promise as a writer, selling non-fiction to a Sunday school paper while in high school.

He got his BA in journalism at University of Michigan in 1937, then started working as a newspaperman and editor at papers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, California, and Oklahoma.

He had a wide variety of other jobs, including doing door-to-door sales, working as an ordinary seaman, acting as a press agent for a mind reader, and interviewing murders for true crime books.

He helped edit
Flying Magazine in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army from October 1942 to January 1946 doing publications and information-education.

His first published story was in 1941. Over the next twenty years, he sold over a million words of pulp fiction—mostly space opera magazine novels in the 25,000 to 40,000 word length. Many of these novels were assignments to write a story for a previously commissioned illustration.

He married Margaret Simpson in Chicago on August 6, 1942. They were divorced in 1968.  Their son, Thomas McCray Swain was born July 16, 1946. February 12, 1969 he married Joye Raechel Swain. While living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, they adopted Rocio Mendez Garcia (born 1959) and Antonia (born 1964). Later, while living in Costa Rica, they adopted Ronald, who died of AIDS. 

Dwight starting working as a film script writer in September 1949 at the University of Oklahoma, School of Journalism, writing over 50 fact and feature films. He joined the Oklahoma University faculty in 1952 and subsequently obtained his MA from the University of Oklahoma in 1954. (He got his masters because the university was embarrassed to have someone on the faculty with only a bachelors. Subsequently they pressured him to complete his doctorate, but he refused—considering it a waste of his time.)

He joined the Professional Writing Program staff at the University of Oklahoma, training writers of commercial fiction and film. He pioneered using dramatic techniques to script documentaries and educational / instructional films. He loved film work because it provided the human contact ordinarily lacking in writing print fiction.

He wrote several non-fiction books on writing including
Techniques of the Selling Writer, Film Scriptwriting, Creating Characters: How to Build Story People and Scripting for Video and Audiovisual Media. He was a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences.

He died February 24, 1992 in Norman, Oklahoma. 

His hobbies included the harmonica, violin, swimming, travel, reading, psychology, archaeology, sociology, economics and esoterica.

  1. Introducing the Author, Imaginative Tales, September 1955.
  2. Wasn’t It an Amazing Time? Locus #302, March 1986
  3. Obituary, Locus #375, April 1992.
  4. Internet Speculative Fiction Database