Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Kurt Vonnegut on Writing

The advice in this clip is specifically aimed at writing a short story. The lesson we Showmen can take from it is by thinking of the short story like an act. In the Showman's work the act is the short story and the full evenings show; a novel.

  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.
{via Open culture}

And finally some thoughts on the structural shapes of stories and acts. DO take some time to ponder the similarities and what you can add of story to your act. It will greatly improve your understanding of your act. Further I would recommend thinking about your favorite acts, be it contortionists, magicians, acrobatics, handstands, clowning, stand up comedy - be it what it may - look at the act again with Story in mind and see what you learn...

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