Posted by: Dustin Faulkner | March 29, 2009

More advice on writing

This time from the opposite side of spectrum so to speak, but an equally prolific writer: Kurt Vonnegut. This is his tips for short story writing. Something I’ve been experimenting with, which I may let you guys in on sometime soon…

  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 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.


  1. hahaha! I’ve read Kerouac’s list, but never Vonnegut’s. It is ridiculous how differently they saw things. Definitely show some of your short story writing skillz.

  2. I wouldn’t want to bore anyone. It was a very stuffy, very British story about a man, a woman, and a typewriter.

    The man, a writer. The woman, a secretary/typist. The typewriter, a black one. It was going nowhere so I stopped and gave up. The story would’ve been something like this: The man falls in love with the woman who works for him. And so, he tries to let her know this while he is dictating one of his stories to her.

    It was written stream of conscience from the POV of the man and it was not any good.

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