A few years ago, Open Culture readers listed Slaughterhouse Five as one of your top life-changing books. But Kurt Vonnegut was not only a great author. He was also an inspiration for anyone who aspires to write fiction – see for example his 8 rules for writing fiction, which starts with the so-obvious-it's-often-forgotten reminder never to waste your reader's time.
In this video, Vonnegut follows his own advice and sketches some brilliant blueprints for envisioning the "shape" of a story, all in less than 4 minutes and 37 seconds.
Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.