Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vonnegut's Eight Rules of Writing

Reading thuRsday

Several months ago I came across a reference to the fourth of Kurt Vonnegut's rules for writing. I was curious as to the rest. I just found the whole list, presented here for your enjoyment

In the book “Bagombo Snuff Box”–an assortment of his short stories published in 1999, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:
Kurt Vonnegut (Wikipedia)
  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 hell 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.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net