Friday, 27 June 2014

Kurt Vonnegut's advice for writers

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my literary heroes. His masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-5, is one of my favourite books, one I return to again and again and it continues to surprise me each time. This slim volume contains his pain, humour, bewilderment and humanity. It was a text he worked on for years and years to get right.

Here are 8 bullet points of his writing advice that I can't possibly improve on.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Stay tuned . . .

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, especially for young writers, who have just started their careers. I'm a writer with experience of more than five years, I started my way to writing an essay uk essay writing. Being a sadist not worth it, just be yourself. This is important advice that will make you the person.