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Definitely. That’s my best thing.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for Reading Fiction
A term paper assignment from the author of Slaughterhouse-Five.

Number 7 times infinity

Writing is neither intuitive nor expeditious. It may not be gratifying. Or lucrative. But it must be done.

Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing fiction:

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. Now 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.

— Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999), 9-10.

See you on Tralfamadore…

Sad news greeted me this morning in the form of Mr. Kurt Vonnegut’s reported death. KV’s always represented to me, if not a level of genius to aspire to (because 1- I won’t even suggest I’m capable of any genius and 2- genius is a word I only feel comfortable assigning to cartoon coyotes), the exemplary nature and potential of calling yourself a writer. You live a life, you tell stories and you do it well. That is something to aspire to.

And because I do, I write.

And because there’s so much I’ve gained from his writing and commentary, (and because it’s my website and ‘whatevah! I do what I want!’) I want to post the rules for storytelling from KV:

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.

Common sense- have respect for your reader. Anticipate the vermin. I think it’s useful applied to screenwriting or any writing. They remind me quite a bit of Mark Twain’s list of nineteen rules governing literary art from Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences , which isn’t surprising- but I’d do well to follow them both a little closer.

But as to KV, as to the loss of him and the sadness left behind, many will echo the sentiment. They will praise his profound and moving works. They will celebrate his most inestimable humanism. Some will discover. But above all we are moved by the kindness of what Vonnegut has shared.

So, it is with right and warrant that we belabor the obvious- read his books! His essays! Scour the tubes for TV appearances and speeches. Enjoy the fact, as I do, that there was at one time on this planet a man named Kurt Vonnegut who shared his distinct insight on humanity- the condition, humor and fragility of it. Revel that you shared a space of time with this man and perhaps then you can take comfort in knowing your understanding, kindness and humanity were furthered by this man. That’s what Kurt Vonnegut was to me.

So it goes.

melty

It’s like the inside of an overcooked pizza pocket (liquid hot MAGMAH!) all over the place, notably in non-bedroom portion of my apartment which includes everything except, well, the bedroom since it has the only working a/c unit. Speaking of apartment, I renewed the lease, because I just wasn’t about to move in this crap. Also my Xmas tree is still up. It’s still a little bit of a thrill to wake up and see the lights on, even if it is frickin’ August.
I need some E-10. Or some E-15 even. I don’t care, I just want some of that cheap corn-gas. But it appears the state of NC only has one public ethanol station. One. And it’s in Fayetteville- which, if I did the math MIGHT work out to still saving a bit, BUT the drawback of driving to Fayetteville simply for gas is enough to nix it. It is Fayetteville after all- the armpit of the state. It would be nice if it was kinda on the way to Greenville or somewhere else I might plausibly drive to. I am not that lucky. But I’ll be keeping my ears peeled for some new availability. It’s really out of control these days.
Going to plug http://www.vicsage.com because it the snazzy new place of Faceless Fans to hang out and obsess over one of the coolest comic book heros out there – The Question. I babble about him some more, but the link holds much more information and coherence than I could possibly hope for. The message boards are slick and give me distracting ideas on top of the ideas I already have trouble dedicating appropriate time and effort to.
Running low on the Nero Wolfe, though I did pick up one orignal and two continuation- that is not by Rex Stout, books last week. Still not sure how I feel about the continuation thing, reminds me of fanfiction, but we’ll see when I crack the book. Elsewhiles I am reading a Poe collection, some Vonnegut essays Megan and Jeremy gave me and that Charles Dickens I took with me to the wedding but never really got through. Oh and Gertrude and Claudius by Updike, which I was doing pretty regular until I found some more Wolfe. Wolfe takes precidence over ALL. Which is as it should be. Pfui!