Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 323 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author/publisher,
Dane F. Baylis


Dec 3, 2013, 9:00 PM at the Cobalt Cafe, Canoga Park, CA. (Featured Reader for the Hollywood Institute of Poetics coordinated by Jessica Ceballos.) Also open mic.
Dec 7, 2013, 4:00 PM at Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA. (ASKEW Poetry Journal #15 release party.)
February 8, 2013, 4:00-6:00 PM  at Grenada Books, Santa Barbara, CA. (Dane F. Baylis and Fernando Albert Salinas.) Open mic follows.
March 9, 2013, 2 pm, All Erotic Reading at Sylvia White Gallery, Ventura, CA.






I tend to spend a good deal of time reading how to's on the craft of writing. As such, I also spend a lot of time trying to distill into a useful, easy to understand form, the masses of information I ingest. This works sometimes, others, it's not such a success. That's why I really appreciate it when someone takes that responsibility out of my hands.
With that as a lead in, I was over on Twitter tonight and saw that someone had posted a link to Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules for writing short stories. Well, I couldn't state them any better, so I decided to do the old Cut and Paste. Without further preamble, here they are:
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Lastly, as we all know, there are always exceptions. But, as has been pointed out to me over and over in several artistic disciplines, "Until you know the rules well enough to work inside them, you have no idea how to break them". As evidence, I offer this:

Vonnegut put down his advice in the introduction to his 1999 collection of magazine stories, Bagombo Snuff Box. But for every rule (well, almost every rule) there is an exception. “The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor,” writes Vonnegut. “She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write. Oh, and follow directions.

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Dane F. Baylis

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