- 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 hell 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.
The rule I that caught my attention is 4. Evert sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
I think this is true, to an extent. If every single sentence revealed character or advanced the action, there would be very little scene setting in your story/novel.
I had the pleasure of being in Adventures in Children's Publishing's First Five Pages Workshop. Between that and the Show Me the Voice Workshop, I have received so much wonderful advice on the beginning of my story. Thank you all so much for your help! I don't plan on stopping there. I am doing to pour of the rest of that MS to true to infuse as much voice, character, and setting into the rest of the story as I did working on the opening.
I'll make sure that my sentences reveal character and advance the action. I'll also incorporate setting, too.
What do you think of Vonnegut's rules? Personally I disagree with #8 completely.