Video: Kurt Vonnegut Graphs the Shapes of Stories


Got a nasty case of writer’s block? Let Kurt Vonnegut cure it for you — or at least entertain you — with this wonderful, five-minute lecture on the directions that stories can take. Poised at the chalkboard, Vonnegut graphs protagonists’ possible trajectories from the beginning to the end a book (or, as he explains, “B stands for ‘beginning,’ E stands for ‘electricity'”), on a scale from the best to the worst fortune. Describing a popular plot line, the author cracks, “Somebody gets into trouble, gets out of it again. People love that story! They never get sick of it.” By the time he wraps up, with a classic tale you might recognize, even the moodiest literary type is sure to be laughing out loud.

[via Kottke]