Some Simple Suggestions (Kurt Vonnegut)

I stumbled upon something recently relative to writing. It was a list of suggestions from Kurt Vonnegut. They are quite ingenious and rather helpful. He says a writer should use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. A writer should give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. Vonnegut says a writer should be certain every character wants something, even it it is only a glass of water. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action. Vonnegut says no matter how sweet and innocent your leading character is, you should make awful things happen to them. This may sound a bit sadistic, but it helps the reader see what they’re made of. When writing, compose your work to please just one person. Vonnegut says if you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. You should start as close to the end as possible. I’ve read this advice before. Don’t waste time on too much back story. He also says readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on in the story, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

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