While most of these tips aremeant in ﬁction writing, they also apply to nonﬁction.
Kurt Vonnegut is the author of: Cat’s Cradle Slaughterhouse-Five Jailbird And many other novels and excellent short stories
Tip #1 “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”
Application Make sure your story has a point... make sure it’s a story that has a conﬂict and a resolution.
Tip #2 “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.”
Application Make sure your characters, even real characters, have some type of sympathetic trait. In most personal essays, this character is the writer.
Tip #3 “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”
Application Common commandment for writers: don’tintroduce excessive information. If a person is not relevant to the story you are telling, leave him or her out
Tip #4 “Every sentence must do one of two things- reveal character or advance the action.”
Application If your story takes place in your bedroom, how does walking down the hallway advance your story? Just go to your room.
Tip #5 “Start as close to the end as possible.”
Application Another common thing among writers. Why tell about the ride home from school when the story is about what happened once you arrived home?
Tip #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’re made of.”
Application A story of unrivaled success is boring. Write about failure. Failure, shame, confusion and heartbreak all provide better topics than success. Feel free to write about success, but make sure you write about it only after you explain your failures.
Tip #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.”
Application Know who your audience is. Is it 15-year-oldgirls? 34-year-old adults? Know your audience and tailor your story for that audience.
Tip #8 “Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have a complete understanding of what is going on, where andwhy, that they could ﬁnish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.”