Mental Floss

Kurt Vonnegut's Story Diagrams

Chris Higgins

In this four-minute video clip, the late author Kurt Vonnegut shows us his "story shapes" -- simple graphs of plots along two axes. I'll tell you the labels for the Y axis: it runs from G (Good Fortune) to I (Ill Fortune). That's about all I can say without ruining this whole. Sample quote regarding one of the most popular plot diagrams: "The whole thing, we call this story 'Man in Hole,' but it needn't be about a man, and it needn't be about somebody getting into a hole. ... People love this story!"

Recommended for nerds, lovers of fiction, and used car salesmen.

After the jump: Vonnegut's rules for writing a short story. Rule 3: "Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water."

(Via Radiolab.)