8 tips on how to write a great story from Kurt Vonnegut

8 tips on how to write a great story from Kurt Vonnegut

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Famous writer Kurt Vonnegut is no stranger to giving controversial advice, such as telling people not to use semicolons, which he characterized as “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing”. He even wrote in a master’s thesis that “stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.” Without any further ado, here are 8  tips from the writer himself on how to write a short story:

    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 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.