Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Writing Tips of Kurt Vonnegut by Jay Harding

A new friend, Jay Harding, answered my call for posts about writing tips from indies.  He sent me this post and I loved it!  He gave us the great words and inspiration of Kurt Vonnegut.  Thanks so much, Jay, and welcome to the blog.

WRITING TIPS by Jay Harding

One of my favorite writers is Kurt Vonnegut, and on the wall right next to my writing space is a document called “Creative Writing 101”.  These are his tips, and I hope they are as much an inspiration to you as they are to me:

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 plot.
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.

Kurt Vonnegut added at the bottom of this:
“Great writers tend to break every one of my rules but the first.”

In addition, I would like to give one more piece of advice: Write at least two pages a day, no matter what, even if it is a blogpost, a letter, a short story, whatever.  Get in the habit of writing every day and soon your mind will expect it.  This is the cure for writer’s block, too. Write, write, write!!!

Thanks, Jay!  I know the blog followers will all get a great deal of help from these tips.  A writer of new age horror and science fiction, Jay publishes with new indie fave, Firefly and Wisp Publishing.  Be sure and check him out.

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  1. Those are great tips. I love number 7 - the story will get pneumonia. Number 8 rings true as well. I just finished a round of slush over at Flash Fiction Online and at least half of my "reject" votes were due to writer withholding.
    Thanks for posting

    1. Nancy, you may have stepped in it! Now, I demand a post from you about Author Withholding! Great idea and my readers and followers will eat them up. See if I'm not wrong.

  2. Love these tips! Give your characters hardship, something to fight for! Agree with #4 too! Perfect when editing or revising. Cheers, Jay for a fab list, and thanks for hosting Samantha!

    1. Hey Sharon! Love to see you here. And a post about hardships???...great idea! Hit me up. Love your style and love to showcase it.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Martin. I'm glad you found them helpful. Keep me posted on your writing journey too!

  4. All excellent tips. Thanks Samantha!

    1. All my pleasure, Rhea. Great to always see you here and thanks to you for your continues support.

  5. I like 1,2 and 3 the best. That's probably why they're 1,2 and 3!

    I also think story structure is important:

    1. Thanks you Kayefrancis. I would love to read a post from you on story structure. We all have to help each other any way we can. Glad you stopped by!