Writing Tips from Kurt Vonnegut

 

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most influential writers of our time (Slaughterhouse-Five anyone?) So, if he was gracious enough to share his tips for writing, it’s probably a good idea for us to listen up. Here are eight tips, straight from the genius’ mouth:

  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.
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5 Responses to Writing Tips from Kurt Vonnegut

  1. francis says:

    thanks for posting this, i’m not sure if i agree with his number 8 however, but it’s good to hear a different opinion on the matter. i wonder what hitchock would say to “hell with suspense” 🙂

  2. Samira says:

    Wow! These are sooo great. I love them. You can apply them to normal life too….

  3. Debbie says:

    KURT was a genius. “Should cockroaches eat the last few pages” is my favorite part. I agree with a lot of his suggestions. I love reading a book and getting a lot of information at the very beginning. When I have no idea what’s going on for the first 20 pages, I just put the book down. And having every character want something, even if it’s just a glass of water, definitely makes every character feel real. Even for a brief moment. Thanks for the post!

  4. Pingback: Editing Tips From Kurt Vonnegut « Journeys of a Hybrid

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