Kurt Vonnegut was one of my favorite authors, growing up. Yes, I had that kind of childhood.
One of my other families is intelligentsia – don’t get your knickers in a twist, all three of my families are extremely intelligent, just not of that mindset – and I was exposed to all sorts of art and literature different from my own parents’ tastes. If you’re wondering – likely not but I’m massively sleep-deprived again, those pesky, delightful characters often choose 2:43 a.m. to tell me their bright ideas – my other other family has imbued me with the joys of team sport.
Should have posted a digression alert. Ah, well.
While doing my usual copious amounts of research, yesterday, I was led to this. For your convenience, I’ve copied out the rules, but do follow the link, there’s a video and it’s a site you should visit anyway. And – sort of a digression – these rules can apply equally to all creative artists, especially stage directors.
- Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.