I’m not sure if Mark Twain’s ghost still writes in his old haunts, but I’m sure that many a writer has been haunted by Twain’s rules for writing. And it being that spooky time of the year, I thought it might be fun to raise his words from the dead so to speak, so that you, the children’s writer (or any writer) might benefit from his wisdom. Especially since a few noted rules relate, in an uncanny way, to the dead.
Rule Number 3: 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.
Rule Number 4: The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.
I think Rule Number 4 should be written in bold letters across every writer’s forehead. Barring your ability to manage that, perhaps you could just write the words across your computer screen, once every day before you begin any actual writing.
Rule Number 3, on the other hand, has been grossly ignored by writers of late; writers, who I might add, have enjoyed a fair amount of success by throwing, willy-nilly, the undead into their stories. And it’s all getting pretty confusing, keeping up with who’s a ghost, or a vampire, or a werewolf, or what-have-you in the undead department. I’m sure it’s enough to keep Mr. Twain rolling in his grave.
You can read all the rules here (from an essay Twain wrote about James Fenimore Cooper, who, by the way, broke every single one of Twain’s rules). And then you can decide whether you dare to break the rules…or not. (Ooooooooooo)