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So It Goes
Kurt Vonnegut's Last Word
In August 2006, Kurt Vonnegut was interviewed on public radio from inside the 3-D virtual on-line community Second Life. The broadcast, produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media for "The Infinite Mind" public radio series, was the first to be taped inside a virtual world, and it was the author's last sit-down interview. In Second Life, Vonnegut appeared with "The Infinite Mind" host John Hockenberry in front of an audience of more than 100 avatars from around the world in Lichtenstein Creative Media's 16-acre virtual broadcast center.
Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules
for writing a short story:
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.
Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that.
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