Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing Fiction


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. Now 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.


  1. fcmalby says:

    Tammy, I agree. The last point was the only one I wouldn’t follow in my writing. I think some of the best books have an element of suspense. Otherwise, what’s the reason to turn the page? Thanks for your comment.


  2. ceejaedevine says:

    “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.” Would be wonderful if more people would follow this advice! Hope I am doing that on my blog! (saw your post via a retweet by Lisa Hall) Thanks for sharing.


    1. fcmalby says:

      Thanks Ceejae-devine, it is sage advice for writers.


  3. tammyjpalmer says:

    I was right there with him until the last one. Shouldn’t the ending be at least a little bit up the air?


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