Writing Wednesday: Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

The doomed lovers, the creation epic, the underdog hero… these are all archetypal story arcs that show up in literature from every time period and corner of the globe. But if you think that the critiquing and analysing of these tales has been done to death, think again.

Kurt Vonnegut, the highly influential and oft-quoted American author, is well-loved for his unique interpretations of his art form, and his musings on writing are continually cited by students and authors alike. One such perspective is his explanation of the shapes that stories take, which he detailed his “autobiographical collage” Palm Sunday.

Check out the video below for Vonnegut’s thoughts on some classic storylines.

It’s not just writers and bloggers like ourselves who still love that old Vonnegut talk. Last year, graphic designer Maya Eilam created an infographic print of Vonnegut’s shapes of stories theory, highlighting eight classic curves in a modern and eye-pleasing poster (available through her Etsy shop):

Shapes of Stories
Image Source: Maya Eilam’s website (http://mayaeilam.com/2014/03/04/prints-are-here/)

What “simple shape” will you feed into your computer for your next story?

 

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