In a short video by Kurt Vonnegut, the phenomenal writer behind Slaughterhouse Five provides a succinct take on how to write a short story in eight points, although the words are exemplary of how we can use prose to truly change the perceptions of and move our audiences:
- 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.
Compare this list to writing tips from Zadie Smith, who and Neil Gaiman, who tells us that we truly must focus on finishing what we have started.