On the eve of the publication of his first novel, The Fire in the Flint, Walter White received a letter from T. S. Stribling, whose novel Birthright had inspired White to write Fire in the first place. Both novels tell the story of a Northern-educated black's return to his Southern hometown with the intention of uplifting the black community and improving race relations. In his letter, however, Stribling makes it clear that the similarities between the two novels end there.
Fire's main character, says Stribling, is so “poky in love making… I rather suspect a big healthy passion wouldn't have hurt.” He proceeds to criticize Fire's ending in which the main character is lynched following much violence against his family: “The repeated murder and the repeated burning is what I object to. That may be quite natural, and I admit that lynchings are monotonous, but art is the escape of life from monotony. ” At this point, it appears that Stribling is offering the standard critique of much politically-charged literature. He seems to be accusing White of being factually accurate, but aesthetically uninteresting. However, in a follow-up letter responding to White's defense of the novel's ending, Stribling criticizes White for being inaccurate:
Here you are, a young Negro writer with a very fine promise. I insist that you write in the big style, in the unhurried style that shows human beings as they are… Now White, detach yourself, my boy. Cut away, be a camera, not a gatling gun.