Writing Tips From Kurt Vonnegut: How to Write a Great Story

How to write a good story by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was an American writer whose career spanned over fifty years. Vonnegut published fourteen novels, five plays, three short story collections, and five non-fiction books.


He is known as one of the most influential satirical American writers and novelists of the 20th century.

The writer Josip Novakovich said that he has “much to learn from Vonnegut – how to compress things and yet not compromise them, how to digress into history, a quote from various historical accounts, and not stifle the narrative. The ease with which he writes is sheerly masterly, Mozartian.”

Dinitia Smith of The New York Times called Vonnegut the “counterculture’s novelist.”

Los Angeles Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez stated that Vonnegut will “rightly be remembered as a darkly humorous social critic and the premier novelist of the counterculture.”

How to write a good story by Kurt Vonnegut

  1. When you write, keep in mind that a total stranger shouldn’t waste time reading your creation.
  2. Make sure that your reader has at least one character he or she can relate to.
  3. Remember that each character should want something. Even it is a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must either reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Being a sadist is a way to engage readers. Make awful things happen to your innocent and sweet leading characters. Why? You will show 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. Forget about the suspense. Give as much information as possible straight from the beginning. 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.