Kurt Vonnegut on storytelling

Mr. V. sure knew how to spin a story

The following eight points are Vonnegut's clear-eyed advice to writers of short stories, and while it some of it -- like being a sadist -- doesn't exactly apply to business stories (LOL), much of it does.

Get to the point, he says, create a rooting interest (a hero), and write as if you're writing to only one person. Truer words have never been spoken.

  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.

From his book, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction

(thanks to brainpickings.org)