Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut- A to Z

Kurt Vonnegut was an American born science fiction writer.  He is most famous for his fictional retelling of the bombing of Dresden, Germany; an event that he actually experienced.  This was told in Slaughter House Five and touched on some in other works as well.  I have only read two books of his and they were both told as the narrator as he is writing the book.  This is a pretty unique perspective.  He died in 2007, so it goes.

Slaughter House Five is considered on of those books that everyone should read.  I would agree with this statement.  If for no other reason, because it will introduce you to one of the most prolific science fiction auther you have never heard of, a Mr. Kilgore Trout.  Trout pops up in many of Vonnegut's works. 

I know a lot of writers read me, so here is Vonnegut's rules for writing a short story:
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.

Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that.  (from wikipedia)

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Austin James said...

I keep looking at Slaughterhouse Five Sitting on my shelf... I haven't read it yet, but I will.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Love Vonnegut. I've read these rules before but it's great to take a look at them right this moment, when I'm (supposed to be) revising a story.

Dropping by via A to Z. Nice to meet you!

Pat Tillett said...

One of my favorite authors! Although a few of his books are among my all time favorites, I also gave up trying to read a couple of them, because I just didn't like 'em.
Good post Budd!

Dom said...

My favorite Vonnegut book is Dead Eye Dick. The father in the story is ridiculous.