Mark Twain’s essay on the art of telling a story

Mark Twain’s essay on the art of telling a storyMark Twain’s authorship is timeless as the words weigh heavy and find new nourishment through decades and centuries. For example, the short story collection Gränsfarare (in Swedish) and with the translated title Bordertraveller stories that will be published in August 2020, which is the starting point for this blog, begins with words from his inspiring pen. Below Mark Twain’s essay “How to tell a story” is published in a complete version.



The Humorous Story an American Development.–Its difference from Comic and Witty Stories.


I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the company of the most expert story-tellers for many years.

There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind–the humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

The humorous story may be spun out to great length and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular, but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.

The humorous story is strictly a work of art–high and delicate art–and only an artist can tell it, but no art is necessary for telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story–understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print–was created in America, and has remained at home.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it, but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the “nub” of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.

Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it. Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and indifferent way, with the pretence that he does not know it is a nub.

Artemus Ward used that trick a good deal; then when the belated audience presently caught the joke he would look up with innocent surprise as if wondering what they had found to laugh at. Dan Setchell used it before him, Nye and Riley and others use it today.

But the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you–every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping exclamation-points after it, and sometimes explains it in a parenthesis. All of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life.


360 degrees comics

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Bordertraveller blog opens with 360-degree comics and text-audio stories

Very welcome to the Bordertraveller blog. It is focusing on books, publishing and the society in general, and it is the English version of Gränsfararebloggen (in Swedish) that has been around for a while. Besides publishing stories to read and listen to, the blog also will include more interactive experiences like the 360-degree comics that we are launching now, see below, there is much more to come.

Using 360-degree comics

To use a 360-degree comics strip experience you drag the strip clockwise. As you follow the comics strip you will find additional integrated features like audio, video, text, links and quizzes. See our 360-degree comics story with the title: The Development of the book and freedom of expression, see below.

Features in 360-degree comics


Click to open text, image or video in a 360-degree comics.


Click to open audio in a 360-degree comics

Quiz and summary

Click to open quiz or summary in a 360-degree comics

Next 360 degree comics strip

Go to the next 360-degree comics strip

 information about the 360 degree comics strip

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360-degree comics on Bordertraveller blog

Three perspectives on Science Fiction and books in different formats

Listen to the story

Science fiction is a bridge to visionary possibilities, to explore possible futures. It also helps to see our own existing society from a new perspective where science is the driving force of the story. For Science Fiction is not just about future space flight to other planets and solar systems. It’s fiction based on science where not even the sky is the limit of the possible. To use Professor Richard Dawkins’ words:

“I like science fiction. But not all science fiction. I like science fiction, which contains a scientific lesson, for example – when the science fiction book changes one thing but leaves the rest of the science intact and examines the consequences of this. It’s actually very valuable.”

Science Fiction books in all formats

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg provides an additional perspective with the following words:

“Remember, that science fiction has always served as a first warning to think about things that can happen. It’s easier for a reader ship or audience to receive warnings from sci-fi without the feeling that we’re preaching to them. All the science fiction film that I’ve ever seen, anyone who’s worth their weight in celluloid, warns us of things that finally come true.”

The author Jean M. Auel gives a third perspective:

“Science Fiction is not just about future space flight to other planets, it’s fiction based on science and I use it as the basis for my fiction, but it’s science of prehistory – paleontology and archaeology – rather than astronomy and physics.”

These are some of the perspectives we at B-InteraQtive Publishing will shortly start a new project. We look forward to interesting and innovative manuscripts, for publication as interactive book, ebook or/and in print. Please contact us with questions and ideas.