12 Kurt Vonnegut Quotes for Writers and About Writing

Here are 12 Kurt Vonnegut quotes for writers and about writing from the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, and Welcome to the Monkey House. In these quotes, Vonnegut covers novels, jokes, story structure, and more.
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Here are 12 Kurt Vonnegut quotes for writers and about writing from the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, and Welcome to the Monkey House. In these quotes, Vonnegut covers novels, jokes, story structure, and more.

Looking back on Kurt Vonnegut's career now, it seems as if he was always a successful writer, but he didn't really "hit it big" until his late 40s with the publication of his sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. Published in 1969, it was the perfect book for the perfect time, and the novel's success vaulted Vonnegut into "famous writer" territory.

(Click here for 7 ways Kurt Vonnegut poisoned readers' minds with humanity.)

I admit that when I discovered Vonnegut, I couldn't get enough--I read every one of his novels (most of them in a day). By the way, my personal favorite is Cat's Cradle. Thankfully, he shared a lot of great quips and comments about writing during his life.

Here are 12 Kurt Vonnegut quotes for writers and about writing.

12 Kurt Vonnegut quotes for writers and about writing

"When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away—even if it's only a glass of water."

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"Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action."

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"Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they're made of."

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*****

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"Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it."

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(Click here to see Vonnegut explain other shapes of stories people love.)

"Jokes are efficient things and they must be as carefully constructed as mouse traps."

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"You can't write novels without a touch of paranoia."

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"People need good lies. There are too many bad ones."

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"I think writers are the most important members of society, not just potentially but actually."

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"Writers get a nice break in one way, at least: They can treat their mental illnesses every day."

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"If a lover in a story wins his true love, that's the end of the tale, even if World War III is about to begin and the sky is black with flying saucers."

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"Nothing ever really ends. That's the horrible thing about being in the short-story business—you have to be a real expert on ends."

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"I'm simply interested in what is going to happen next.'"

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