When it has reached exactly the right length, jump suddenly at that girl and yell, "YOU'VE got it!"). In them, he describes his own writing style, attacks the idiocy of a fellow author, defends the virtue of a dead woman, and tries to protect ordinary citizens from insults by railroad conductors. For instance, he would say eagerly, excitedly, "I once knew a man in New Zealand who hadn't a tooth in his head"--here his animation would die out; a silent, reflective pause would follow, then he would say dreamily, and as if to himself, "and yet that man could beat a drum better than any man I ever saw.". It takes only a minute and a half to tell that in its comic-story form; and isn't worth the telling, after all. Mark Twain. "Bzzz--zzz--zzz W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y--g-o-l-d-e-n--ARM?". Let me set down an instance of the comic method, using an anecdote which has been popular all over the world for twelve or fifteen hundred years. How to Tell a Story and Other Essays (1897 ) is a series of essays by Mark Twain. All of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life. . Huckleberry Finn. Five pieces by Mark Twain on the art of telling a story, with some examples. Return to the Mark Twain Home Page, or . Create a library and add your favorite stories. He wuz pow'ful mean--pow'ful; en dat night he couldn't sleep, caze he want dat golden arm so bad. The fourth and last is the pause. ), Den de voice say, RIGHT AT HIS YEAR--"W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y g-o-l-d-e-n ARM?" Well, she had a golden arm--all solid gold, fum de shoulder down. It is a pathetic thing to see. In them, he describes his own writing style, attacks the idiocy of a fellow author, defends the virtue of a dead woman, and tries to protect ordinary citizens from insults by railroad conductors. En bimeby she died, en he tuck en toted her way out dah in de prairie en buried her. A third is the dropping of a studied remark apparently without knowing it, as if one where thinking aloud. THE INVALID’S STORY . But he can't remember it; so he gets all mixed up and wanders helplessly round and round, putting in tedious details that don't belong in the tale and only retard it; taking them out conscientiously and putting in others that are just as useless; making minor mistakes now and then and stopping to correct them and explain how he came to make them; remembering things which he forgot to put in in their proper place and going back to put them in there; stopping his narrative a good while in order to try to recall the name of the soldier that was hurt, and finally remembering that the soldier's name was not mentioned, and remarking placidly that the name is of no real importance, anyway --better, of course, if one knew it, but not essential, after all --and so on, and so on, and so on. If the pause is too short the impressive point is passed, and the audience have had time to divine that a surprise is intended--and then you can't surprise them, of course. The humorous story is strictly a work of art,--high and delicate art,--and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. HOW TO TELL A STORY AND OTHERS by Mark Twain Contents HOW TO TELL A STORY . en de win' blow de lantern out, en de snow en sleet blow in his face en mos' choke him, en he start a-plowin' knee-deep toward home mos' dead, he so sk'yerd--en pooty soon he hear de voice agin, en (pause) it 'us comin AFTER him! THE WOUNDED SOLDIER. The teller tells it in this way: In the course of a certain battle a soldier whose leg had been shot off appealed to another soldier who was hurrying by to carry him to the rear, informing him at the same time of the loss which he had sustained; whereupon the generous son of Mars, shouldering the unfortunate, proceeded to carry out his desire. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe. The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. Dan Setchell used it before him, Nye and Riley and others use it today. When it come midnight he couldn't stan' it no mo'; so he git up, he did, en tuck his lantern en shoved out thoo de storm en dug her up en got de golden arm; en he bent his head down 'gin de 'win, en plowed en plowed en plowed thoo de snow. (You must wail it out very plaintively and accusingly; then you stare steadily and impressively into the face of the farthest-gone auditor --a girl, preferably--and let that awe-inspiring pause begin to build itself in the deep hush. He makes an interesting distinction between the British approach to a humorous story and the radically different American technique, which he himself, James Whitcomb Riley, Artemus Ward dealt in numbers three and four a good deal. How to Tell a Story and Other Essays (1897[1]) is a series of essays by Mark Twain. Den --he know it's a-BENDIN' DOWN OVER HIM--en he cain't skasely git his breath! Letters from the Earth. The art of telling a humorous story--understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print--was created in … I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. responded the astonished officer; "you mean his head, you booby.". The teller is innocent and happy and pleased with himself, and has to stop every little while to hold himself in and keep from laughing outright; and does hold in, but his body quakes in a jelly-like way with interior chuckles; and at the end of the ten minutes the audience have laughed until they are exhausted, and the tears are running down their faces. A Double Barrelled Detective Story. and Other Sketches, The £1,000,000 Bank Note and Other New Stories, The Curious Republic of Gondour and Other Whimsical Sketches, A Salutation Speech From the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=How_to_Tell_a_Story_and_Other_Essays&oldid=942710727, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 26 February 2020, at 10:20.