Friday, January 10, 2014

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Rules for Writing Fiction

I ran across this in reading other people's reviews of The House of Mirth and really liked it!  I don't think I agree with every single thing (for example, if Michener had started as close to the end as possible, then I don't think Hawaii or Centennial would have been able to suck me deep into them).  But number 2, I agree with that.  The Goodreads reviewer said, regarding The House of Mirth:  "I would draw Ms. Wharton's attention to number 2."  I have to agree, that was one of my main problems with The House of Mirth too, that I forgot to write about.  While the villians are usually the best part of any book, you have to have a hero to root for, or at least sympathize or empathize with.  I just found everyone in Mirth to be hateful or worthy of disdain.

  • 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. Now 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.

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