Writing Tips From Fay Weldon

The Rules of Vonnegut / 9

Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish it by themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

And there it is, my point made clear and loud. Mind you, Vonnegut laid down these rules for students forty years ago. He lived in New York where at the time there was plague of cockroaches. They fell from the ceiling into your dinner; pull back the bedclothes and find a whole swarm cavorting there. And they nibbled away at everything, darkly horrible and squashy if you tramped them. Nowadays the metaphor would be devoid of drama – more to do with your Kindle crashing the page before last, and you not minding too much.

Vonnegut concludes by saying that obviously all rules are there to be broken – and it’s what the best writers do. I’d just add that it’s useful to know what the rules are before you break them.

But so long as you get away with it you can do anything.

Good luck!

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