Writing Tips from Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

kurt vonnegut jr. photoBy: DevonClements


Due to his inclusion in the canon of modern literature present in academia, author and satirist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is thankfully not an uncommon name among today’s students. However, there is much more to this inspiring mind then his most popular text, the forebodingly satirical Slautherhouse-Five. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and spent his childhood excelling academically until his enrollment in the Reserve Officer’s Training Corp. He served in World War two, fighting at the infamous Battle of the Bulge Germany’s final offensive wave of the war, as well as surviving the bombing of Dresden. After returning from the War, his writing career began, eventually ending with the publication of 14 novels, 3 short stories, five plays, and five works of non-fiction over his 50 year writing career. Vonnegut’s work began in the world of Science Fiction and though he did not remain completely in that genre his work is filled with the fantastical, absurd, irrational and the beautiful. Reading any of Vonnegut’s work leads one to perceive the singular chaotic, and awe inspiring way in which he viewed and categorized reality and existence. More so than many other writers, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. illustrates the incessant and at times mad was in which those who write are driven to make sense of their own mind as well as the world around them through language. Listed below are eight tips Vonnegut left for the aspiring writer in hopes they ease your struggle and speed your progress. So it goes.

  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. 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

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.

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