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 to root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it’s only a glass of water.
4. Ever sentence should 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 how sweet and innocent your leading character, make aweful 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.
— Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999) 9-10
“Filming Fred’s death was actually pretty easy. On the day we filmed I knew it was gonna happen so every time I saw James I would get really sad. When we went to film it they had James lay down on the stretcher and just wait until the rest of the cast got there. I took one look at James on the stretcher and burst into tears. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to lose him. We have done everything together since birth and to see my brother laying down on a stretcher pretending to be dead just killed me inside. After James got up and I gave him a huge hug. David said you did great, it was very believable. Then I told him I just thought of it as me and James not Fred and George.”—