Tagged ‘writing‘

Vamoose, José’s on his way

I want to say that most of the time I revel in keeping the day to day simple and uncomplicated. Established patterns. Most direct point from A to B. Standard deduction. All that jazz. I like to think I have an overactive sense for details, but when it comes to most of the day to day minutia I lust for routine.

But if I’m the champion of anything, it’s self-delusion. Thus, predictably, chaos ensues. And the stories I most enjoy writing are usually anything but simple. I like intricate plots and puzzles, heavy with veiled themes and symbols, and details stacked to the sky. Even though I know it’s probably not the most accessible approach, I love sending characters and audiences down labyrinthine paths over endless depths. ‘If you get lost along the way, well maybe I’m not your gal,’ I think.

But I doubt very much this is a recipe for true success. I’d like to think that’s it’s not from a place where I’m trying to outsmart the audience, but rather that I want to produce the maximum reward. To craft the sense of immense triumph on making it through for whatever niche audience has had the patience and wherewithal to unlock a few secrets and come through with my characters.

Perhaps I’m stubborn. Perhaps those notions should be discouraged. So maybe I’ll start something new with the penultimate goal of keeping everything simple.

Maybe after the eighteen other things I’ve got on my plate right now.

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.