Guest Post by Kim Marie Ostrowski
Everyone should read at least one Kurt Vonnegut book — Welcome to the Monkey House and Mother Night are my favorites. They’re blunt. Dark. Demanding. And they make you think, and laugh, and want to be a better person. What more can we ask of literature, and what better person to turn to for tough love on writing?
It’s not surprising that his thoughts on art, writing, and the writing life are just as thought-provoking, funny, and inspiring…
If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
… that they tear down our pretensions and keep us focused on the craft …
Novelists have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetic consultants at Bloomingdale’s department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.
… and that they’re direct, pointed, and eminently useful:
Here is Creative Writing 101:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.
In the end, what I love is how he helps me focus on the writing itself. Not the moral or lesson or the conceptual leaps of what I’m trying to communicate — just the words, and how they build on one another into phrases, then sentences, then stories, and then big ideas:
There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.
He’s a needed reminder of the power in each of our pens.
This was originally posted in the daily post.
When writing a review there is certain criteria to follow
You need to give a short plot summary, what it was you did and did not like about what you are reviewing be it products, movie, tv show, or book etc. Depending on where you write you may have a bit of a limit so many characters or words, or you may have a quota of words or characters to fill. One way or another sometimes an outline helps, but don’t always follow it as readers will notices this general form you are writing in and likely no longer pay attention.
This is what I try cover in my reviews
(this basically covers everything)
Some give the star treatment a rating of 1 through 5 stars 1 being worst and 5 being best; while others just use a number system for an overall grade, which works pretty much the same as the stars.
There are those that use the letter system for an overall grade like they did in school; F being a fail & A+ being the best. Someone a long time ago had told me about their criteria for their review how they do it and told me I could make use of it, and use it to add to my own.
This is an amalgamation of both of our criteria so that you can use it or some parts in a review and other parts in a different one.
————- THE REVIEW —————
(studio for movie or tv)
Plot outline (try to limit to 3-5 lines)
include the characters/ stars & co-stars if you feel the need
Write about what you DID like about the movie/show/book/product
Then what you didn’t
What was your favorite part
a Favorite Quote?
If it’s a Book to film or a remake of tv to film or film to tv etc. Please be sure to note if you have read or watched the other.
Note the differences and if you like them or not
What do you like about the new version
What is t that you don’t?
Ratings:Originality: 5/5 Length: 5/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 5/5 Cast/acting Set-up/ Execution
Depth/ Range /Emotion
Quality (rise or decline)
Would you recommend this to someone? & How Best to see/buy in theater, buy, rent (or borrow) wait for a sale or tv
Overall grade Letter/number/or stars
—-I will likely add to this as I think of anything else —–
again remember please do not use the same outline to review anything, it sounds generic when you do and you want it to be heartfelt, that way other will know if they want to go ahead and see, read or buy what you have reviewed.