November 26, 2018
Kurt Vonnegut on how to write a short story
by Stephanie Valente
Want to write a short story? Sure, that’s not too hard. But what about a good short story? That’s a little trickier. But, it’s worth it. The art of writing and doing it well can be complex, nuanced, and even a little vexing. Fortunately, Kurt Vonnegut‘s advice on writing short fiction is anything but dull. One of Vonnegut’s most important pieces of advice is key – don’t waste the readers time.
Want more? Check out Vonnegut’s eight essential tips below.
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.
Stephanie Valente is the Digital Marketing Manager at Melville House.