Short Fiction Tips from Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut  pic

Kurt Vonnegut

Kenneth “Ken” Randall, former dean of the University of Alabama School of Law, serves iLaw and iLawGlobal in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as president and chief executive officer. When he is not practicing law, Kenneth Randall enjoys reading and writing short fiction.

One of the best ways an author can improve his or her short fiction is to learn from the masters of the art. Though he may be better known as the novelist behind books like Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut was an accomplished writer of short fiction. He penned more than 120 stories over the course of his career, including the popular collections Canary in a Cathouse and Welcome to the Monkey House. He also wrote and lectured extensively on the craft of short story writing.

When discussing a writer’s objectives for a work of short fiction, Vonnegut advised that all short stories should feature at least one character with which the reader should be able to root for, if not identify with. He also believed that every character named in a story should desire something, even something very simple. Perhaps most famously, Vonnegut suggested all short story writers begin their fiction as close to the end as possible. Lastly, Vonnegut reminded writers that at no point should a reader feel that they have wasted their time by reading a story.


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