Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story
By Maria Popova The year of reading more and writing better is well underway with writing advice the likes of David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, and various invaluable insight from other great writers. Now comes Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922–April 11, 2007) — anarchist, Second Life dweller, imaginary interviewer of the dead, sad soul — with eight tips on how to write a good short story, narrated by the author himself. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.Start as close to the end as possible.Be a Sadist.
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