Kurt Vonnegut stated that there are eight rules for writing good fiction that go to the heart of what is required to create a powerful story. These rules are invaluable for ACTORS.
We use a quote by him in our Ten Month Novel and Script First Draft Course to illustrate the point that a character must want something concrete and specific in a story. Please Note: It is very hard to write a story about a character who doesn’t want something. It is the desire of the main character that drives the story and the interest of the reader.
Vonnegut said, “When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away – even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralysed by the meaningless of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”
The eight rules are:
- Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. Focus on your reader.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.