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Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing 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 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.

But like all rules, they can be broken, as Vonnegut mention. Its just a tool to help you get started :)

- Kurt Vonnegut: Bagmbo Snuff Box.  

Oct. 17, 2016, 5:55 p.m. 9 Report Embed 30

Comment something

Shawnice Pate Shawnice Pate
It's these explanations that makes them great to keep mind. Thank you for the post.
October 06, 2023, 22:37
Arthur Lake Arthur Lake
A mused, keep it up👍✔
March 25, 2023, 18:46
Dipasree Das Dipasree Das
"Be a sadist" Every fanfiction writer ever: "Yeah sure, no problem."
December 25, 2020, 06:16
 wea wea
Literal almost everything here is in wattpad and nobody outside of wattpad like that kind of writing
February 18, 2020, 15:44
Rebeca Garcia Rebeca Garcia
This guy is so fun. I liked some rules, but I disagree when he says: " to hell with suspense". Well, that was a relevant content, and I hope this blog continuous here.
January 30, 2020, 16:46
Rebeca Garcia Rebeca Garcia
LOL "Be a sadist" * creppy voice on *
January 30, 2020, 16:39
Светлана Винн Светлана Винн
не понимаю пункт 7 )))
August 12, 2018, 13:24
Svitanje Sandalič Svitanje Sandalič
July 26, 2018, 17:27