Archives For Kurt Vonnegut

How to Write a Short Story: Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

In this video, narrated by the author himself, Kurt Vonnegut shares eight insightful tips for writing a great short story.

This advice was published in the introduction to Bagombo Snuff Box, a collection of Vonnegut stories written during the fifties and sixties for popular magazines including Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post.

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As 2013 draws towards a close, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share the 10 most popular posts on our site from throughout the year.

10.   10 Great Podcasts for Writers

10 Great Podcasts for Writers

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Back in October we shared 1983’s 10 Bestselling Books. The article got a great response so we thought we’d take another look back in time, this time at the bestselling novels in the United States in 1973*.


10. The Honorary Consul by Graham Green

The Honorary Consul is said to have been one of Greene’s favourite books to write. A thriller, the story is set in an unnamed city in northern Argentina near the border with Paraguay. In 1983 a film adaptation was released starring Richard Gere and Michael Caine.

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“There’s no reason why the simple shape of stories can’t be fed into computers, they have beautiful shapes.” — Kurt Vonnegut

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“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

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“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” – Barbara Kingsolver
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The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut

Watch Kurt Vonnegut explain The Shapes of Stories himself in this great video.


Designer: Maya Eilam
Sources: A Man Without a Country and Palm Sunday