MasterClass Monday: Mark Twain Tells It Like It Is


That’s right, I’m kicking it old school this Monday and dropping these twelve timeless writing tips from good old Mark Twain.

The first tip is perhaps his best known: to substitute the word “damn” everywhere you used the word “very” so your editor deletes all the extraneous nonsense. But I like tip number 12 the best:

“The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

In other words, keep it simple, stupid. If some piece of action, some bit of magic, some plot twist or bit of backstory is going to require a glossary of terms and three and half pages of uninterrupted monologue to explain, you’re likely to lose your reader.

Trust in your reader’s ability to grasp and make sure they don’t have to reach too far.

Mark Twain – still a master today and always.

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