Mark Twain is back in the news, not that he ever really left it. His unexpurgated autobiography is being published shortly, and I expect more than a few graveyards will hum with all the spinning some of the residents will be doing. (N.B.: I wrote the phrase “unexpurgated autobiography” before hunting up the NYT article that also uses it. Great minds, and all that.)
Twain had something to say about most everything, and he certainly did not spare his own field. He left us a great many thoughts on what makes a good story. Here is one collection of those thoughts. Finally, we have his masterful blast against novelist James Fenimore Cooper. Early on, Twain gives us twelve solid notions of what a writer should and should not do, and he makes note of how Cooper violated these points of literary order.
Enjoy, and make good use of what the old master taught us.