Watch Kurt Vonnegut Explain On A Chalkboard The Three Principle Shapes Of Story Lines

by • September 5, 2011 • BooksComments (0)3111

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was one of the most prolific American writers of the twentieth century.  His masterpieces included Cat’s Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973), blending satire, gallows humor, and a delicious dash of science fiction.  His iconic and acclaimed semi-autobiographical Slaughterhouse-Five was a brilliant example of experimental structure in that he used time travel as a plot device.  These structural experiments were continued in Breakfast of Champions, which includes many rough illustrations, lengthy non-sequiturs and an appearance by the author himself, as a deus ex machina.

“This is a very bad book you’re writing,” I said to myself.
“I know,” I said.
“You’re afraid you’ll kill yourself the way your mother did,” I said.
“I know,” I said.

I just discovered this video recently posted by Kottke in which Vonnegut explains to a group of writers-in-training, the three most common story lines used by fellow writers.  It’s always fascinating to watch a master speak so effortlessly about the broadest strokes of his or her craft.

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Source: Kottke

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