Author Topic: for short story writers  (Read 6247 times)

Offline Cabbit

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for short story writers
« on: April 19, 2004, 09:51:20 PM »
I decided to re-read Bagombo Snuff Box, a collection of early short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. I decided to do this because I'm thinking about taking up the pen again (with some new inspiration), and wanted to refresh my memory on how it's done. ^^

I thought I'd share this passage from the introduction by Kurt Vonnegut:

Quote
Now lend me your ears. Here is Creative Writing 101:

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 a complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

I break the 8th one a lot. I try to confuse my readers too much, keep them wondering. *shrug* Maybe I'll try to follow all these my next story and see if it doesn't make it a bit better.

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  The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O'Conner (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

Offline Xeno

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2004, 05:27:23 AM »
this could really help me in english. thanks I'll put it to good use ;D

Offline Cabbit

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2004, 11:34:06 AM »
Yeah, I'd forgotten about this little list, I'm glad I decided to read the book again. ^~

Vonnegut is a master at rule number 8, btw. He'll tell you the entire plot of a book in the first chapter, and still have you reading it cover to cover without ever wanting to put it down.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2004, 11:34:56 AM by Daisaku KenOhki »

Offline Zackies

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2004, 04:22:12 PM »
This is pretty helpful, I might look to these when writing.

Offline Prince Pyro

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2004, 10:20:38 AM »
Great tips....I should follow them.. :-[....but yeah, life's a learning process, right?

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Offline Waffo

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2004, 03:37:43 PM »
Since it's useful and helping everyone, I'll sticky it.

*stickies*


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Offline VW_Kidd

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2004, 01:54:15 PM »
We had a poem contest...what about a short-story-writing contest???
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Offline Waffo

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2004, 06:56:43 AM »
Maybe after I finally get my mom a mother's day gift.  Any ideas on the contest?


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Offline VW_Kidd

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2004, 01:29:52 PM »
I was thinking any short story would work.  But there should be a limit to the length, I think.
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Offline Waffo

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Re:for short story writers
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2004, 06:49:38 AM »
Any ideas on what to give my mom as a present then?  Never mind.  A good length would probably be as much as they can fit in one post.  

*runs around and arranges stuff*


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Offline Elipsis

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Re: for short story writers
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2005, 09:47:18 AM »
I think the list is a load of silly.

As someone who's actually in a creative writing course, we are basically taught to do almost the complete opposite of what's on that list!

- hide information to make the reader work and want to read more (cancels out 8)

I don't think there really is a place where the start should start. If you ask me, the structure of the piece should work the way and artist wishes it to work.

The rules sound more like they should be advice for creating a short action movie rather than anything else.

Offline Cabbit

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Re: for short story writers
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2005, 07:08:37 AM »
If you've ever read kurt vonnegut you know that hiding information from the reader is directly opposed to his writing style.

Vonnegut will tell you the entire plot in the first paragraph, but still have you reading the whole book, just to fill in the details. This is just how Kurt Vonnegut writes, it's understood that many writers do the exact opposite. But I feel the rule is more to remind us that keeping the reader in the light can be just as clever, or more clever than keeping them in the dark.

As far was where to start. I think his advice is sound. A major problem a lot of people have with short story writing, is that they try to write too much.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2005, 07:10:17 AM by Cabbit »

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Re: for short story writers
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2005, 06:06:15 AM »
yes a lot of writers have you doing that. R.A. Salvatore, the one guy that wrote the series of unfortunate events. and many more. i should use this.

Offline thewindknight

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Re: for short story writers
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2007, 06:32:10 PM »
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.

YES!  I am not the only one who does that. Though it hurts me inside every time.
-Does not have time to deal with idiots-

Offline Waffo

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Re: for short story writers
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2007, 02:03:44 PM »
I'm glad you'll use this somewhere.


"My brain told me there was a chair behind me but halfway to the floor, my brain told me it lied." -Me
"I've forgotten more than you'll ever know."
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