Why I Love Mark Twain

Mark Twain is a favorite of mine as both a writer and philosopher. Here are some useful and humorous writing tips from him courtesy of Dan Alatorre’s blog

Dan Alatorre

In an essay ripping Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer, Twain wrote a long list of writerly do’s and don’t’s (“offenses against literary art”). Here are a few, abbreviated.

Some are helpful, some are just funny.

Take note, all.

The Rules of Writing (or the “Rules Governing Literary Art”) require

  • That the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
  • They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.
  • They require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy…

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