Kurt Vonnegut Explains All Stories

Reading & Writing

This weekend I’m heading for Leeds to teach a class about telling scary short stories at SlungLow’s Fun Palace. After I’d written what I was going to say, this came to my attention via a guy called Ian Mason, who suggested that Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ was a rip-off of this clip (not exactly true, as Booker goes into an astounding amount of erudite detail, but I get the joke). Here, the ever-wonderful Vonnegut nails all stories in one go. Interestingly it took Stephen King a full hour on stage to say pretty much the same thing.

Here’s the full version of his thesis, showing the graph system of nailing all stories (click to expand).

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4 comments on “Kurt Vonnegut Explains All Stories”

  1. Rachel Green says:

    Brilliant. I hadn’t seen that for a long time. Thanks.

  2. Ian Mason says:

    ’twas me, about a year ago if I remember correctly. I don’t recognise myself as a “guy” though, I’m more of a bloke or a gezzer.

    Speaking of Vonnegut, I came across this of his the other day, one of his 8 golden rules for good writing. It made me laugh.

    “Sound like Yourself

    The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.”


  3. Vivienne says:

    Oh, if only all those curves turned into a picture of Einstein or something!

  4. Wayne Mook says:

    Splendid stuff, everyone a winner,


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