One Writer’s Writing Secrets 3: Something to Say

I am still enjoying Mark Twain.  Love him or hate him, the man could write, and more importantly, in the American tradition, he could tell a good story:  Tom Sawyer at home and abroad with the Tramp and the Innocents (roughing it or otherwise on the equator), Life on the Mississippi, The Prince and the Pauper, Pudd’nhead Wilson, and the great Connecticut Yankee which I believe he named just to see how many times he could find Connecticut misspelled in the reviews.

            Motive for writing in the first place is as difficult as trying to pin down a motive for murder (a close kin in some cases).  I think, though, Twain was on to something with the notice he gave at the beginning of Huckleberry Finn:

NOTICE

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR

Per G. G., Chief of Ordnance.

            Writers want to say something – at least most have something to say.  Some do write mainstream drivel in a sort of stream of consciousness (Zzzz); but I believe most want their views about life, liberty and the pursuit to be heard.  (Unlike the Blues Brothers, they may not be on a mission from God, but still…  And whether or not what is said is worth listening to is another debate).  But whenever a writer focuses in on what they are trying to say instead of on the story, the writing is lost, abandon ship!

            Mark Twain was first of all a storyteller.  All the great writers were.  Even a socially conscious writer like Dickens first told a good story. 

 

Writing Tip 3:

I cannot speak for the plot because that might be a handy thing for a story to have; but as for motive and moral, I recommend not thinking about them at all.  Yes, I believe every piece of writing should have something to say, but while in the writing process, I recommend just focusing on telling a good story, and I believe the motive/moral will shine through without help, thank you very much, and maybe some other things not intended will shine through as well, things which may turn out to be pretty good!  (I hadn’t thought of that).  We can call it stream of unconsciousness writing.

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