Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Copied from Elizabeth Bear, via scarlettina, but worth quoting again:

Some writing advice by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on the subject of short stories, from Bagombo Snuff Box:

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. No 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.


Also, check out Vonnegut's "Fifty-Third Calypso" over at Barth Anderson's blog

RIP it up, KV.


Kelly Swails said...

Always good advice. RIP, KV Jr.

Anonymous said...

I copied this over to my own blog...

lydamorehouse said...

One of my first experiences with SF was through a Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. short story. I'll miss ya, Kurt.

Anonymous said...

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

Candy said...

You write very well.