It’s not that I want this blog to be all about lists, honest. But here’s another one, this time a list by Kurt Vonnegut (lifted from Novelr — thank you!):
Eight rules for writing fiction:
- 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. Now 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.
In other news, I haven’t been writing a lot lately (my Other Half and I went on holiday and I’ve been working a lot and I’m trying to get back on my roll but but but…), but I did spend a month doing some very effective (I thought) revising (read: rewriting) and this week I sent off an entry to three (3!) novella contests. All mailed, mind you. I blanched, to put it mildly, at paying the entry fees and then the photocopying and then the postage to the US. All for a very very slim chance of winning, but I need to get work out there and circulating.
Next: I need to write a pitch and treatment for a short film for the Introduction to Screenwriting course I’m taking at the UBC residency this summer (it’s due June 13), and it’s completely freaking me out. I’ve somehow become a novelist. I’ve become a novelist who wallows around in her characters’ heads (very deeply). Do you know how hard it is to now try and write a three-page externally oriented (in point of view terms) story, where everything comes through in action and dialogue? Eek!
And after that — I need to get 50 pages of my at-some-point thesis novel done by the fall. I’m hoping that in the fall I’ll be in a novel class where people will read it, but it’s all rather up in the air… Fingers crossed!