Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Kurt Vonnegut on the shapes of stories

July 27, 2019

Double click to enlarge.

Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of All Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by the University of Chicago by Open Culture.  Hat tip to Lambert Strether.

My motto as a blogger

September 21, 2015


hat tip to

Good advice

September 14, 2014

A simple exercise to improve your writing by Dan Wang of the University of Rochester.

Type out passages by your favorite writer.  You’ll gain an appreciation of their word choices, their structuring of sentences and paragraphs and all the other characteristics that make their writing good.  Or if you can’t do that, I myself lip-read the works of my favorite writers or read them aloud

A simple rule for making every restaurant meal better by Tyler Cowen for Marginal Revolution.

Have your restaurant dinner at 5 or 5:30 p.m., before the crowds, when the food is fresh off the stove and the wait staff can concentrate on serving you.

Draw up your task list the evening before, not in the morning by Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist.  (via Marginal Revolution)

If you plan your chores before (but not too long before) you have to do them, you’ll be less likely to put off what needs to be done.

Five Things Every Local Bookstore Should Do by Gracy Olmstead for The American Conservative.

A successful bookstore owner will embrace smallness, cultivate quirks and personality, join the localists, sell old and rare books and foster “browsability.”


Toulmin’s Law of Composition

August 14, 2011

The effort the writer does not put into the writing, the reader has to put into the reading.


Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing fiction

December 26, 2010

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. 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.

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.