Friday, July 9, 2010

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Rules of Writing

(For the Short Story)
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that they will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character they 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 plot.
  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.
Write Every Day!



  1. Great blog! A great deal of information in a few words. Very to the point. Focused.
    I just joined your site and look forward to reading more of your posts. Have a great day! MJ

  2. Those are great rules. I may have to print this out and hang it up somewhere to constantly remind me.

  3. Awesome rules, and perfecting timing, too, with a Writers Digest short story contest beginning now.

    BTW, thanks for subscribing!

  4. Great list. I like #7 best. I think that "one person" needs to be ourselves. If we can't write a book that we would want to read, we probably won't write one that anyone else wants to read either.

  5. Hello! Love the advice you have going on here. Out of these, I think I like number 5 as a good rule for a short story. Will have to keep that in mind!