28 May 2008

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing Fiction

I found this via StumbleUpon this morning. This is important to keep in mind.

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.

Source: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing Fiction » Novelr - Making People Read


Now playing: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - She's Leaving You


tenderhooligan said...

This is good advice, actually.

Although I'm not sure about #8 - I like a snappy ending.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting, Vanessa. Vonnegut was a great man. It was a great loss to the writing world when he died.

Vanessa said...

@tenderhooligan: it is rather, but I agree with you on #8. I don't always like a book that tells all and leaves no surprises.

@eli james: indeed. And thank you for a great blog :)

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