South Africa: It Feels Like We're Characters Stuck in Kurt Vonnegut's Creative Writing 101 Class


Every day brings another sadistic turn of the screw. But not all hope is lost.

If God were a writer, and all of us mere characters in a 1,000-page dystopian extravaganza produced by a celestially demented mind that lost all sense of humour during the Mesoarchean Era, which novelist do you think He'd most resemble?

My vote goes to Kurt Vonnegut. It feels as if we're living inside his Creative Writing 101 class, one of whose principles, he wrote in an introduction to a short story collection, is:

"Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader may see what they are made of."

I'm made of the gristle and jelly that a dog leaves in its bowl for the flies to pick over, at this point - so unequal do I feel to the daily challenge of facing Twitter, much less Life. The news is unbearably grim, the times are unbearably tough. Someone, please call the sadists off.

In the same piece dishing out creative writing nuggets, Vonnegut also advises:

"Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for."


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