How to Write an Exciting Text?

Creative writing
In his book “The Innocents Abroad," Mark Twain recognises that words have the power to “ mislead ” the reader. He suggests that we must know how to tell the real facts behind “paint”, “the ribbons,” and “the flowers” of words and criticises Wm. C. Grimes for creating a “deceitful” description of the Sea of Galilee.

But what if we actually want to add some ribbons and flowers to our text? If the bare “facts” are a bit dull, how can we make them seem more exciting (risking, of course, to deceive the reader)?

Here are the techniques Wm. C. Grimes’s uses humorously juxtaposed by Twain to the “realistic” description of the Sea of Galilee.

  1. Adding Sensory Details and Imagery:

  • “The truth,” according to Twain: "a lake six miles wide and neutral in color."
  • Grimes’s version: "The sea was not more than six miles wide. Of the beauty of the scene, however, I can not say enough..."
  • Grimes emphasises the beauty and adds sensory details, making the scene more vivid.

  1. Enhanced Description of the Landscape:

  • “The truth,” according to Twain: "with steep green banks, unrelieved by shrubbery."
  • Grimes’s version: "the sharp slope of the banks, which are all of the richest green, is broken and diversified by the wadys and water-courses..."
  • He elaborates on the banks’ characteristics, describing their rich green color and the presence of wadys and water-courses, adding variety and interest.

  1. Adding Historical and Cultural Context:

  • “The truth,” according to Twain: "at one end bare, unsightly rocks, with (almost invisible) holes in them of no consequence to the picture."
  • Grimes’s version: "Near Tiberias these banks are rocky, and ancient sepulchres open in them, with their doors toward the water..."
  • Grimes introduces historical elements like ancient sepulchres, giving depth and context to the landscape.

  1. Introducing Contrast and Drama:

  • “The truth,” according to Twain: "eastward, 'wild and desolate mountains;' (low, desolate hills, he should have said;)"
  • Grimes’s version: "On the east, the wild and desolate mountains contrast finely with the deep blue lake..."
  • He uses contrast between the wild mountains and the calm lake to create a more dramatic and engaging scene.

  1. Personification and Anthropomorphism:

  • “The truth,” according to Twain: "in the north, a mountain called Hermon, with snow on it"
  • Grimes’s version: "toward the north, sublime and majestic, Hermon looks down on the sea, lifting his white crown to heaven..."
  • Grimes personifies Mount Hermon, making it "look down" and "lift its crown," adding a sense of grandeur and life to the landscape. Mount Hermon is like a “king”.

  1. Evoking Emotions and Imagination:

  • “The truth,” according to Twain: "peculiarity of the picture, 'calmness;' its prominent feature, one tree."
  • Grimes’s version: "The very mountains are calm... On the north-east shore of the sea was a single tree... by its solitary position attracts more attention than would a forest."
  • He invokes emotions by describing the calmness and isolation of the tree, emphasising the tranquillity and solemn beauty of the scene rather than the fact that there’s a lack of vegetation.

  1. Use of Poetic Language and Metaphors:

  • Grimes’s version: "...lifting his white crown to heaven with the pride of a hill that has seen the departing footsteps of a hundred generations."
  • Grimes employs poetic language and metaphors, adding a lyrical quality to the description.

Ultimately, the art of creating good texts lies in the balance between truth and embellishment and clear understanding of the purpose and the audience.

Thanks to the excellent wit of Mark Twain for this fun lesson of creative writing.

Join our book club to learn writing tools from the best authors!

To join, fill out this form: