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Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Art Of Short Story Writing


A lot of people find that they want to write a short story, even though they are not a "writer" or an "aspiring novelist." Many people find short stories to be therapeutic, fun, relaxing, enjoyable. Short story writing can be a productive use of your time, and it can be a very fun hobby. At the same time, however, it is not much fun to write short stories if no one will read them!

In modern American literature, few writers were as highly regarded as Kurt Vonnegut. From the late 1940s until his death in the late 2000s, Vonnegut wrote critically acclaimed and highly-regarded short stories, novels, and essays. At one point during Vonnegut's writing journey, he compiled his list of "rules" for short story writing. The next few paragraphs summarize these ideas.

Vonnegut began his rules focused on what you should do for the reader - firstly, that you should make sure the reader won't leave your story feeling like they wasted their time, and secondly that you should give the reader at least one character they can root for. Continuing with characters, Vonnegut says that every character should want something, even if it is only something small, and every sentence should either reveal something about a character or advance action. Vonnegut next encouraged writers to make awful things happen to their characters, no matter how sweet and kind these characters are. This allows the reader to see what the character is made of. He advises writers to start as close to the end as they possibly can, and to write to just please one person. To understand this last one, realize this: If you write to please one person, and that one person loves your story, then all others who have similar tastes to your "one person" will love it also.

Vonnegut's final piece of advice was to give the reader as much information as possible as quickly as possible. "To heck with suspense," was his thought on this final rule. He claimed that the reader should always have a complete understanding of what is going on.

Of course, Vonnegut admitted that you can break all of these rules and still create a terrific short story. But you could sure do a lot worse than Kurt Vonnegut if you are going to find a writer to take advice from for writing short stories.

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