Great Writing Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

VonnegutI found these two tips from Kurt Vonnegut which really struck me:

  1. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  2. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.(from Vonnegut’s book BAGOMBO SNUFF BOX: UNCOLLECTED SHORT FICTION)

This advice seems so simple, but is so easily forgotten. Tip 1 is most useful when writing a first draft and figuring out the characters. It’s too easy to add in a character to help the plot, but without fully fleshing out that character. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Not anymore!

And for the second tip, what a great thought to keep in mind when revising. Knowing how to revise is a long learning process, and getting the pacing right is vital, so analyzing the purpose of each sentence will cut down on unnecessary bits that drag the story down.

Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction 

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