Kurt Vonnegut

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 21, 2007 at 9:27 pm

Kurt Vonnegut

Eight rules for writing fiction:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

— Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1999), 9-10.

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  1. I don't fully agree with #8: amateur writers have a tendency to front-load way too much info to the detriment of narrative urgency. Still, though ,there's a ton of good advice there, particularly #s 3-5.

  2. Not sure I completely agree with #8. I like a little suspense! Anyway, the rest of it– yes. 🙂

  3. I love Vonnegut. Thanks for this!

  4. Thanks for posting this. 🙂

  5. [c’est top]

  6. Vonnegut was a genius. #7 is a truth that I had to find out the hard way. Listen to the man, people, he knows what he's talking about!

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