:: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 ::

Happy Mark Twain day
Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish. — Mark Twain (source: Daily Twain)
On this date, 170 years ago, Samuel L. Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri. He would grow up to become Mark Twain, one of the most successful and enduring literary figures in American history. He was audacious and iconoclastic in life and in his writing style. If ever there was a model for anyone who aspired to be a writer, it was he.

Like many Americans, I've admired Twain's style and storytelling since childhood. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, of course, fired my imagination, as I quietly dreamed of rebellion, of running away from home and building a raft to escape down the Mississippi. Later on, reading books like Life on the Mississippi, his short stories and novellas (Puddinhead Wilson and The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg stand out in my memory), and his collection of wonderful essays, Letters from the Earth, I learned the power of social and political satire. Twain packed those works with sartorial wisdom -- enough quotable material to fill a good section of Bartlett's.

Then there's the man's correspondence -- his many letters, where you'll find many of his wittiest quotes. Among my favorites are those that discuss the craft of writing. The quote above is good advice for any writer or storyteller -- and advice Twain heeded in his own writing career. (His tall tale about the jumping frog from Calaveras County, California, was a big hit back East, where people didn't know from jumping frogs.) So, in honor of the man today, I give you a few, culled from Twain Quotes:
You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.
There's also a new biography about Twain, for those interested in sorting through 600-some pages.

, ,

:: Andrew 07:45 + ::

bloggedy blog recommends

Save the Net

bloggedy pod (my podcast page)

Independent hotels
in Missouri

Get Firefox!


eMusic's Power Charts: The Most Interactive Music Charts Online.

Never Mind the Bibles

In rotation

What I've been listening to lately. Click album cover or hyperlink to hear track samples and learn more.

Sermon on Exposition Boulevard Rickie Lee Jones, Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

Children Running Through Patty Griffin, Children Running Through

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Tones of Town Field Music, Tones of Town

The Girl Collection De Bossen, The Girl Collection

Robbers & Cowards Cold War Kids, Robbers & Cowards

Carinvore Simon Dawes, Carnivore

Until Death Comes Frida Hyvonen, Until Death Comes

Tratore Basics 2: New Brazilian Rock Tratore Basics Vol. 2, Novo Rock Brazil

Modern Times Yusuf: An Other Cup

Modern Times The Beatles: Love

Two Thousand The French Kicks: Two Thousand

Paper Television The Blow: Paper Television

Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler, Vol. 1 Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler

Beast Moans Swan Lake: Beast Moans

Prototypes Prototypes: Prototypes

Violence Is Golden Scanners: Violence Is Golden

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives Voxtrot: Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

Your Biggest Fan Voxtrot: Your Biggest Fan

Translate Macon Greyson: Translate

Get Evens The Evens: Get Evens

Veruca Salt IV Veruca Salt: Veruca Salt IV

Modern Times Bob Dylan: Modern Times

Look Your Best Pink Tuscadero: Look Your Best

Blue On Blue Leigh Nash: Blue on Blue

I Am  Not Afraid Of  You And I Will Beat Your Ass Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Boys and Girls in America The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America

The Longest Meow Bobby Bare Jr.: The Longest Meow"

Hello Love The Be Good Tanyas: Hello Love

The Lemonheads The Lemonheads: The Lemonheads

Ben Kweller Ben Kweller: Ben Kweller

We Are The Pipettes The Pipettes: We Are the Pipettes

Surprise Paul Simon: Surprise

Sev7en Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners: Sev7en

A Hundred Highways Johnny Cash: American V: A Hundred Highways

For the Best of Us The John Doe Thing: For the Best of Us

Runaway Bombshell The Fondas: Runaway Bombshell

Flat-Pack Philosophy Buzzcocks: Flat Pack Philosophy

Citrus Asobi Seksu: Citrus

The Loon Tapes 'n Tapes: The Loon

2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler Various Artists: 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler (24 free tracks)

News and Tributes The Futureheads: News and Tributes

Zoysia The Bottle Rockets: Zoysia

Let's Get Out of This Country Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country

Bang Bang Rock & Roll Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll

A Blessing and a Curse Drive By Truckers: A Blessing and a Curse

Broken Boy Soldiers The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers

The Life Pursuit Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

The Greatest Cat Power: The Greatest

bloggedy tags

from our sponsors

for your viewing pleasure

the Richard Show

where in the world?

Locations of visitors to this page