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Posts Tagged ‘kurt vonnegut’

I’m work, work, working this week, getting lots done and I hope you are too. Today I bring you Kurt Vonnegut’s ideas on the shapes of stories, posted by Aerogramme Writers’ Studio with a terrific infographic designed by Maya Eilam. If you are a visual person, like to shore up your understanding of concepts with images, or just enjoy seeing how a great storyteller conceptualizes his work, you may find this useful.

The Shapes of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
― Kurt Vonnegut

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It’s Monday, and I like to start the week with a healthy dose of motivation. This list is a mashup of writing advice from a number of sources, arranged in no particular order except that I believe the last one to be the most important. Bracketed initials at the end of each entry refer to the author key below. Today’s post is brought to you by the letter F (as in “finish!”).
  • Don’t use generic beginnings. [lb]
  • Don’t use slow beginnings. [lb]
  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. [kv]
  • Don’t try too hard. [lb]
  • Don’t use clichés. [lb]
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. [kv]
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. [kv]
  • Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action. [kv]
  • Start as close to the end as possible. [kv]
  • 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. [kv]
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell 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. [kv]
  • Structure, a.k.a. know where you’re going [jw]
  • Have something to say [jw]
  • Everybody has a reason to live, know who everybody is and why they’re there [jw]
  • Cut what you love [jw]
  • Listen to feedback [jw]…but also…
  • Don’t listen, and do the unexpected [jw]
  • Don’t sell out [jw]
  • Finish it! [jw]
Author Key and Citations:
[jw] Joss Whedon, adapted from Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips.

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