Kurt Vonnegut on Story Shapes (Video)

I’d seen the diagrams, which I’ve used in the classroom for a few years now (along with Margaret Atwood’s excellent short short “Happy Endings”) but never seen this video (metaphorical hat tip to ‘klept reader ccllyyddee, who says he saw it at Curiosity Counts—cheers!).


  1. Mark · February 21, 2012

    I remember Kurt Vonnegut giving this same talk at the university I was attending in the early ’90s. The most memorable story plot he drew, which isn’t included in the video, was for Hamlet. The line began about where Cinderella’s does, on the “Ill Fortune” side of the B/E axis, and ran straight as an arrow from beginning to end. I don’t want to quote Mr. Vonnegut incorrectly twenty years later, but I’m pretty sure he referred to this plot as the one in Western literature that most resembles real life. So it goes.


    • Biblioklept · February 21, 2012

      thanks for the comment/anecdote. it’s easy to imagine that Vonnegut’s depressive nature would identify Hamlet as the “real” plot of life (i.e. “Everyone Dies”).


  2. Mark · February 21, 2012

    True enough–and yet, in typical Vonnegut fashion, it got him another big laugh from the audience. We were putty in his pessimistic hands….


  3. ccllyyddee · February 21, 2012

    ‘Happy Endings’ is the icing on the cupcake. Amusing.


  4. Spring · February 21, 2012

    Oh, I miss Vonnegut. I don’t care what he says, no one tells a story like he did.
    Lasagna looks great, I’m making my husband watch this even though it’s past V-day :)


  5. Ralph Robert (Rob) Moore · February 21, 2012

    I also remember Vonnegut saying at one point that every good story follows three punctuation marks:


    A great writer.

    “Jesus Christ is a robot who died for our sins.”


  6. Pingback: Das HISTORISCHE Juden-Alphabet – Buchstabe E | Seit über 10.000 Jahren Erfahrung in Versklavung
  7. Pingback: Writing Advice From Kurt Vonnegut | anniegirl1138

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s