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The Notorious Jumping Frog of blah blah blah

Ole Sammy C. was a great writer, they say. Ole Sammy C. wrote satires -humorous stories-poking fun at the chaos in American society. Ole Sammy C. you might now better as Mark Twain. Well, I think Mark Twain’s stories are just awful. Here’s the first two paragraphs of The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas. W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I here-unto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that, if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design, it certainly ceeded.

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the barroom stove of the dilapidated tavern in the ancient mining camp of Angel’s, and I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up, and gave me good-day. I told him a friend of mine had commissioned me to make some inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley-Rev. Leonidas W. Smile- a young minister of the Gospel, who he had heard was at one time a resident of Angel’s Camp. I added that if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about his Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many good obligations to him.

Oh My Gaaaawwwd! Sooooo boring…where do I begin tearing this thing apart?

In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas. W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I here-unto append the result.

That’s one sentence, and the first one. In this sentence, what is to follow is sort of pre-luded (as in a prelude to) within the sentence, and then what actually happens is described right after. So why the prelude?

I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that, if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me.

Holy cow! That’s just one sentence, and only the second of the story. Why does he italicize the first portion of the name, and why do we care that he suspects that his friend is jerking him around, and if that is case, why does he follow through? Furthermore, look at that passive phrasing; it would remind him, he would go, it should be useless. It either is or isn’t.

If that was the design, it certainly ceeded.

Here’s another prelude as later on, and soon, we’re told about how this guy managed to bore him.

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the barroom stove of the dilapidated tavern in the ancient mining camp of Angel’s, and I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance.

Okay, so for the character in the story to call on this good-natured Mr. Wheeler, he must have know who he was, so I find it strange that he noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, rather than being direct in stating; Mr. Wheeler was a fat and bald-headed man. What the hell is an expression of winning gentleness? Did he bat his eyelashes or something?

He roused up, and gave me good-day. I told him a friend of mine had commissioned me to make some inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley-Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley- a young minister of the Gospel, who he had heard was at one time a resident of Angel’s Camp.

Now, here I tackle two sentences because the first one is just fine. The second sentence, however, needs to be dialogue; rather than stating I told him a friend of mine…. it is my predilection to create dialogue between two people, especially in the event that I’m boring my audience by restating that a friend of mine is having me do something. Then we have who he had heard was at one time. How about, who once was. Why use twelve words where two suffice?

I added that if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about his Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many good obligations to him.

Again; passive phrasing and missed opportunity at dialogue. Oh, and look, Leonidas is no longer italicized. Why? Has something changed?

Mark Twain sucks. Thank you.

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About Dennisauthor

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