Writing advice from Mark Twain

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Found in my email this morning:

Writing advice from Samuel Langhorne Clemens - otherwise known as Mark Twain.

If people lived that long, he would have been 188 years old today.And as much as things change, they also stay the same. Mark Twain's quotes are always wise, and this one is no exception:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

If you don't have an editor to hold you down, just restrain yourself!

Instead of filling your copy with adverbs, try looking for more descriptive verbs.


Comments (18)

Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I may have to try that, but I don’t really analyze my writing that way. Maybe I should. :) thanks for posting!

Nov 30, 2023 09:45 PM
Marte Cliff

Laura Cerrano - tossing in adverbs is easy - it takes more time and effdort to choose good verbs.

Dec 01, 2023 08:48 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Wow loved the advice:) now with that said I have been to Mark Twain's house a few times when I lived in Connecticut:)Endre

Nov 30, 2023 10:23 PM
Marte Cliff

Endre Barath, Jr. If I ever visited there, his house would be on my "go visit" list. It is amazing to me how well his wisdom has stood the test of time.

Dec 01, 2023 08:49 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - Mark Twain is another good source of quotes.  Your subject today reminds me of a book I read, Smart Brevity, The Power of Saying More with Less by Jim VandeHei and others.   I strive to follow its message.  Admittedly, I don't achieve.

Dec 01, 2023 03:13 AM
Marte Cliff

Michael Jacobs Brevity is not easy! That's why it's more difficult to write a postcard than a letter - and why a good MLS property description takes so long to construct.

Dec 01, 2023 08:50 PM
Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Great  advice Marte!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Instead of filling your copy with adverbs, try looking for more descriptive verbs.

Dec 01, 2023 03:53 AM
Marte Cliff

You're welcome Sham Reddy CRS.

Dec 01, 2023 08:51 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Marte. Mark Twain had a way of getting your attention with a bit of humor thrown in. Enjoy your day.

Dec 01, 2023 04:42 AM
Marte Cliff

Wayne Martin Isn't that wonderful? A bit of humor makes good advice memorable.

Dec 01, 2023 08:52 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Oh, this is just sooooo good, Marte. I'm still giggling over it. But the advice is spot-on!

Dec 01, 2023 05:48 AM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Nina Hollander, Broker - I think so too.

Dec 01, 2023 08:52 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Haha, great tip! Or of course, don't use "very!"

Dec 01, 2023 09:46 AM
Marte Cliff

Kat Palmiotti - I try to restrain myself. There are a few times when it does fit, but most of the time it's just a sign of laziness!

Dec 01, 2023 08:53 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Marte- I have always loved quotes from Mark Twain. While I'm unfamiliar with this one, it is one I'm going to try!!!

Dec 01, 2023 08:54 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathy Streib - Mark Twain h as always been one of my favorites, too. As Wayne Martin pointed out - the bit of humor in his advice makes it memorable.

Dec 01, 2023 08:59 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Dec 02, 2023 07:01 PM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Kathy Streib - I appreciate that!

Dec 02, 2023 07:06 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good grief Marte Cliff ..How did I miss this post?? I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured it. I love this advice! I've never heard this quote ..it's so cool!!

Dec 03, 2023 07:08 AM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Dorie Dillard Austin TX I was thinking about this yesterday when reading property descriptions. Some of them are littered with adverbs!

Dec 03, 2023 08:07 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Now if only spell check knew how to edit that way. Eventually it will be done by AI.

Dec 03, 2023 07:21 AM
Marte Cliff

I expect you're right, Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754 - but I don't like it. I think AI is dangerous.

Dec 03, 2023 08:09 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for adding smiles to our faces with the quote. It definitely applies to my writing.

Dec 03, 2023 12:02 PM
Marte Cliff

You're welcome, Roy Kelley. I think it's something that most of us need to watch out for in our writing. 

I read a property description this week that was so full of flowery sweet adverbs and adjectives that it made me think of an over-sugared desert.

Dec 03, 2023 12:14 PM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

We NEED a lot of Mark Twain common sense these days, as it is "damn" lacking!

Dec 09, 2023 07:20 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

faye schubert I think you are damn right about that!

Dec 09, 2023 08:11 AM
Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Luxury Homes & Interior Designer

It’s easy to embellish our writing with lots of fluff. I always enjoy your posts. Thanks and  have a great day! 

Dec 11, 2023 06:48 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Yes it is, Joyce Marie Marsh. When he was in high school my firstborn became an expert at writing 1,000 words without saying anything. And his teachers always gave me A's for those essays. 

Dec 11, 2023 08:09 AM
Shayne Yaeger
Yaeger - Quebec City, QC
Yaeger Ltd

If you want to learn how to write great texts, now there are definitely no problems with finding various services, tools and tips on how to make your text more interesting, unique and rich. I recommend reading more on these resources, which provide really useful information as well as free tools for creating relevant copy.

Feb 02, 2024 04:10 AM
Marte Cliff

Thanks for sharing, Shayne Yaeger.

Feb 02, 2024 11:36 AM