Were I to have the privilege of sitting somewhere in time past and listening to Kurt Vonnegut, I’m sure I would leave unsettled.
Shocked probably. Maybe irked. Moved, I think.
But I guarantee you this.
I would be uncomfortable with Things as They Are.
Mr. Vonnegut knew how to write, how to speak, how to engage the deepest and most human places within us. He affected people. He understood the brokenness and the loveliness of humanity. He saw there was more to it than he could easily define.
We don’t agree on everything, Mr. Vonnegut and I, but oh! the conversations I wish I could’ve had with him.
I’m currently reading Bagumbo Snuff Box, a collection of his short stories, and I just keep shaking my head. It’s not his most famous. But it is absolutely rife with contrast and complexity.
I’m rambling in a way he wouldn’t appreciate, so… I’ll just post Kurt Vonnegut 101, which he included for you writers to consider as you write.
We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing wings on the way down.
– Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing
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.
Granted, even Mr. Vonnegut admitted that the greatest writers break most of the rules from time to time, but – on the whole, this is some sage advice.
I have nothing more to add.
Thanks for swinging by,
Thanks to Daniele Prati, Greg Younger, and Quinn Dombrowski for the images.