Kurt Vonnegut, one of the most influential writers of the past century, passed down a simple list of rules for writing the perfect short story.
Here's an overview of those rules:
However, he did mention that Flannery O’Connor broke all his rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that, but I believe his famous eight rules can provide a proper framework for writing fiction that genuinely engages others.
And I think that this is what’s really important in art. A foundation. Simply by reading or following rules, or by taking creative writing courses, but it’s also crucial for the artist to make his own decisions. The moment rules start feeling like a cage, you should escape. It’s like strolling through a garden and picking the flowers you like. If you absorb too much or if you simply follow rules (someone else is choosing what flowers you should pick), you’ll never develop a style of your own.
In a world of fixed rules, there’s no room for improvement. Or improvisation. Or evolution.
That's why it's important to remember that, even though we're dissecting rules passed down by one of the most successful writers of the past century, we should understand that rules are a foundation, not a creative prison.