What The Fiction Works of Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach Non-Fiction Writers Today

January 25, 2010

I don’t know if you’ve read much from Kurt Vonnegut, the American novelist who wrote works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat’s Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).

But I’ve been reading Bagombo Snuff Box, a book of “uncollected short fiction”. It’s fascinating. And although it’s a work of fiction, Vonnegut’s writing holds many keys to excellent non-fiction writing – especially keys to style and structure that engage readers.

Engagement  is missing from many of the articles and blog posts you read on the web.

The reason is obvious. Most content gets published without having to pass muster with professional editors.

It simply falls from the mind of the writer to a tool like wordpress or typepad and, in a flash, it hits the web.

Of course, that’s one of the attractions of the web. It makes getting published easy.

But there’s still an argument for good prose. The riveting articles and stories that grasp your reader’s attention and holds it all the way from title to tail like Kurt’s does.

Studying the words of authors like Kurt Vonnegut will help you write that way too.


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