Tag Archives: Character development

Brain Pickings and Kurt Vonnegut

Today I was sent a link to this site Brain Pickings the brainchild of Maria Popova, who describes it in this way: ‘Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.’

One of the things it is focussing on this year is Reading More and Writing Better and I was browsing through the various posts on this (each one of them worth a look). Then I came across one of the pieces of writing advice offered by Kurt Vonnegut and it is so simple but so true that I thought I would reproduce it here.

I have just finished reading a book which has been written to wide acclaim and I was puzzled by my reaction to it. The writing was word perfect, unusual even, the phrasing beautiful and the storyline held my attention. But, at the end of it I felt nothing. I did not feel, as I often would, saddened on reaching the end of the book; I do not imagine I will read another by this particular author. The sole reason for this is that I did not like any of the characters. Those that I assume I was meant to feel some measure of empathy with I did not. None of them took me with them; I was not, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, rooting for them. Quite frankly I was left feeling I did not give a damn about what happened to any of them. If the book had ended in a nuclear holocaust or with a catastrophic invasion of flesh eating zombies I would have closed it without a moment’s regret.

I can only hope that nothing I write ever leaves a reader feeling that. If it does I will feel that I have failed.

Here are the rest of his tips, courtesy Huffington Post