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Vonnegut's Rules

Vonnegut's rules for writing short fiction, lifted from, lifted from his book Bagombo Snuff Box:

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 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.

I had always heard number 4

I had always heard number 4 misquoted as "Every sentence must advance the story." I always took issue with that. Revealing character is essential to the story, but it does not always advance the story. This wording I can live with. Thanks for passing it along.

You make a persuasive argument. And by that, I mean there are more of you and you are using that to coerce me into obeying your moral code. - Belkar

Solid Advice

Any other "Rules for Writing" that anyone has learned?

Here's mine, courtesy of Steve King. "The adverb is not your friend."
This little sentence utterly destroyed me for a while, as I was given to
writing phrases like: "We have to move!" Jim said urgently.

Yeah, I know. It's like catching a finger in the cheese grater just
using it for an example. Still, we were all young once.

(Yes, I'm aware that "utterly" is an adverb. Old habits, etc.)

every wall collapses, given enough time.