Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing Tips - 8 Basics of Creative Writing

Today's lesson comes from Kurt Vonnegut. From Wikipedia "November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle (1963),Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satiregallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical pacifist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association."

About Vonnegut's writing career - also from Wikipedia - "Vonnegut's first short story, "Report on the Barnhouse Effect," appeared in the February 11, 1950, edition of Collier's (it has since been reprinted in his short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House). His first novel was the dystopian novel Player Piano (1952), in which human workers have been largely replaced by machines. He continued to write short stories before his second novel, The Sirens of Titan, was published in 1959. Through the 1960s, the form of his work changed, from the relatively orthodox structure of Cat's Cradle (which in 1971 earned him a Master's Degree) to the acclaimed, semi-autobiographical Slaughterhouse-Five, given a more experimental structure by using time travel as a plot device. These structural experiments were continued in Breakfast of Champions (1973), which includes many rough illustrations, lengthy non-sequiturs, and an appearance by the author himself as adeus ex machina.
Vonnegut attempted suicide in 1984 and later wrote about this in several essays."

I won't go into them here, as they're not really writing related, but a collection of 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has or Will is something you might enjoy reading.

Something from Kurt Vonnegut that I will share with you is from the preface to his short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box. In it, Mr. Vonnegut shared what he calls Creative Writing 101. And, I share it with you today.
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.

There you have it. Wise words from a literary legend.