Thursday, August 23, 2007

One from the Vonnegut

Ah, Vonnegut's rules for writing fiction.

Applicable to all forms of writing, even sketch comedy. These have been all over the Internet and beyond. If you haven't read these rules by Kurt Vonnegut and you are a writer, they are a treat. If you have read them before, they are always worth re-reading, but I included my imagined responses from
Michael Bay (director of Transformers and Armageddon) just to keep you entertained.

Vonnegut's Eight Rules for Writing Fiction

Here is Kurt Vonnegut's advice to writers in "Eight Rules of Writing Fiction" from his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction.

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

MB- Three words... Ka-Boom! Jiggle! Rock!

...and one long tedious love scene accompanied by a lame rock ballad so the stranger can go to the can or buy more popcorn.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

MB - It's called the Good Guy. The one who I allow my cameras to linger over their steely gaze. Root for him. The music will tell you when.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

MB - Yeah. A glass of water full of Ka-Boom!

4. Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.

MB - I say, do both! Nothing reveals more about a character than what gun they shoot repeatedly in an action scene.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

MB - Then stretch it out over two hours with lots of Ka-Boom! Jiggle! Rock!

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.

MB - Awful things like; hurl a meteor at them, attack them with giant robots, bomb them with Japanese kamikazes, team them up with Martin Lawrence

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.

MB - If by "make love" you mean "Ka-boom! Jiggle! Rock!" then, I am pleased!

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.

MB - This is what the movie poster is for. The rest is a proven formula of 75% Ka-Boom! 25% PG-13 Jiggle! and 50% Rock!

Vonnegut conveys more on his craft with these brief rules than many who have written books on the subject.

MB - I have read books!

This version of the rules, sans Mr. Bay's comments, comes from Gray Swan Press, an independent book publisher. Check out the facts column on their blog page.Interesting stuff about famous books and authors.


Good title for a dada poem. It sounds like I randomly strung three words together, but no. It's a really cool looking type of eggplant. I killed it, cooked it and et it, yesterday. You know what it tastes like? Eggplant.


Come get your sketch comedy freak on. Have your scene read and receive feedback (not from Michael Bay). Tonight at the Uptown Writer's Space, 4802 North Broadway at Lawrence (not Martin) at 6:30pm. Goes til 8pm. $5 (Cheap!)


Yesterday, I asked...

"A woman in Des Moines was recently arrested for assaulting people with a hammer while what?"

50% said "Dressed as Thor"
- Nope. And I will kindly ask you to keep your perverted fanstasy life out of my quiz!

17% answered "Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity"
- No. You don't want to piss off Jimmy Carter. He's a maniac when he gets angry.

17% also picked "Drunk out of her mind"
- The likely choice, but the police report made no mention of intoxicants of any kind. Of course, the cops may have been tripping.

Only 16% got the right answer, "Naked as a jaybird"

According to the Associated Press,
Satin Delfrano, 32, of Des Moines was arrested on Sunday after police were called to a complaint of a woman armed with a hammer assaulting three other women. Delfrano also was charged with assault, assault of a police officer, obstruction of emergency communications, third-degree criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. Busy, busy, busy. Satin should change her name to Velvet Hammer. Or just Nutbag.