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As a couple of you know, I’ve been participating in several short fiction writing contests lately. Because of that, I’ve been working on writing a bunch of short stories and, frankly, I’m not that good at them. i go over the word limit all the time and then i have to cut out a lot of good material or I struggle to get close in the first place, etc. It’s a pain in the ass.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to write good short stories and I came upon this list of great advice from Kurt Vonnegut:

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

This is Great Advice that I mostly don’t follow, but it gives me a lot to think about.

Also, I may be writing a lot more short stories in the coming weeks so, prepare for that.