Kurt Vonnegut on How to Write a Short Story

Kurt Vonnegut_How to Write a Short Story_mentorless

Kurt Vonnegut on How to Write a Short Story

Re-discovered this list from Vonnegut and immediately felt like saving it for future reference. 6 and 7 are two points I need to be reminded of on a regular basis and I disagree with 8. You know everything.

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

  2. Give the reader at least one character she or he 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 character, 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 the 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 a complete understanding of what is going on, where and why that they can finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.