Kurt Vonnegut on the shapes of stories

And how to break those shapes into a thousand pieces.

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Hello everybody — I’ve had a very busy week of nonwriting. I’d been working on an essay and I hit a dead end, so I put the pen down for a bit. It bums me out, but it happens. I hope to pick it back up this week.

I’m in no shape to be giving out writing tips, so instead I thought I’d share a few things I’ve revisited to try and shake something loose —

  • The above video in which Kurt Vonnegut, one of the great ‘story form-breakers’ the world’s ever known, helps us visualize the classic story form through a (literal) scientific, graphic representation.

  • From the other side of the coin, this great essay by Lincoln Michel on On the Many Different Engines That Power a Short Story. He walks through engines (other than plot) that can power a story, including the “‘language engine’ […] — stories where repeating syntactic structures, rhythms and sonics, or a bundle of semantic elements seem to be powering the story.”

  • Lastly, here’s a weird little ‘meta-story’ — To Create — that I wrote a few years back while in the midst of a particularly bad period of writer’s block.

I hope you’ll take a crack at this latest prompt. Write something weird —

Prompt: A missed connection

The next one arrives in 36 hours.

Best,

Jasper