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How Mark Twain Used Today’s Evocative Word – DAINTY – to get ’em evocatin’

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” The pause is an exceedingly important feature in any kind of story, and a frequently recurring feature, too. It is a DAINTY thing, and delicate, and also uncertain and treacherous; for it must be exactly the right length – no more and no less – or it fails of its purpose and makes trouble.

If the pause is too short the impressive point is passed, and [and if too long] the audience have had time to divine that a surprise is intended—and then you can’t surprise them, of course.

On the platform I used to tell a ghost story that had a pause in front of the snapper on the end, and that pause was the most important thing in the whole story.

If I got it the right length precisely, I could spring the finishing ejaculation with effect enough to make some impressible girl deliver a startled little yelp and jump out of her seat—and that was what I was after.”

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Published in   What Mark Twain Learned Me ’bout Public Speakin’  by Conor Cunneen

Original SOURCE: Mark Twain: How to Tell a Story
Twain in bed II

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Conor Cunneen is author of What Mark Twain Learned Me ’bout Public Speakin’ 

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