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Pop Culture

Legendary writer Kurt Vonnegut cleverly explains how to write the 3 stories everyone loves

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kurt vonnegut, fiction writing, story structure

Kurt Vonnegut explains the shapes of stories.

To be a great fiction writer requires understanding basic story structures and being clever enough to disguise them so your audience doesn’t know they’re watching or reading something they’ve seen before.

Academics suggest that there are only a finite number of plots and structures, but that number varies based on who’s doing the talking.

Writer Kurt Vonnegut, best known for his satirical works on American politics and culture, including “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “Sirens of Titan,” was obsessed with the shapes of stories and summed up his views in one powerful sentence: “The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.”


In the video below, Vonnegut explains why the shapes of three different types of stories, from “person gets into trouble” to “boy meets girl” to “Cinderella,” can all be summed up on two axes: the Y represents good and bad fortune, the X represents the beginning and end of a story.

The first question is where the main character or protagonist starts their journey. Are they in a state of good or bad fortune, and how does that change from beginning to end?

“Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it,” Vonnegut says with a smirk.

The video is an intriguing look into the mind of a highly original writer and gives excellent insights into the basics of storytelling.

Family

Woman goes to huge lengths to adopt husband's ex-wife's baby to save him from foster care

She had lived in foster care and didn't want it for the newborn with no name.

Christie Werts and her son, Levi


Christie and Wesley Werts have taken the idea of a blended family to the next level. When the couple fell in love five years ago and married, they brought together her children, Megan and Vance, and his children, Austin and Dakota.

As of January, the Ohio family has five children after adopting young Levi, 2. Levi is the son of Wesley’s ex-wife, who passed away four days after the child was born. The ex-wife had the boy prematurely, at 33 weeks, and died soon after from drug addiction and complications of COVID-19.

When Levi was born, he was a ward of the state with no first name or birth certificate.

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Music

Beyoncé’s cover of ‘Blackbird’ has fans praising Paul McCartney after learning its true meaning

"I already loved Blackbird, and this cover, but knowing this history makes it so much more meaningful."

Beyoncé photo by Blair Caldwell via Beyoncé Press/Paul McCartney by Melissa Lopes via Flickr

Beyoncé covers "Blackbird' and fans are praising Paul McCartney

Beyoncé released a new album recently and unless you've been asleep for the past few weeks, you've likely heard about it. While everyone knew she was going to make a more significant splash into the country music genre, the details of the album were scarce until it's release. To many people's surprise it wasn't simply a country album, it was a genre bender that somehow seamlessly transitioned country, pop, R&B and rap all in one album, Cowboy Carter.

Country music legends like Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton made an appearance, with Parton introducing Beyoncé's cover of her infamous song "Jolene." While the spin on that country classic has the internet abuzz over the lyric changes that take the singer from begging to assertively telling Jolene to stay away, it's "Blackbird" that many can't get enough of.

"Blackbird" was originally written by Paul McCartney and sung by a little band he was in named The Beatles. Maybe you've heard of them. The song topped the charts in the 60s and will likely make its way to the charts again with Queen Bey's cover of it. But it's the meaning behind the song that has people talking.

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Joy

When a newborn lamb was rejected by her mother, the family dog stepped in to nurture her

A mother's urge to care for a baby is one of the strongest instincts in the animal kingdom

@oliviajaneakers/TikTok (used with permission)

Max took over when Beau's mom refused to care for her.


A mother's urge to care for a baby is one of the strongest instincts in the animal kingdom, but sometimes something somewhere along the line goes haywire. Occasionally, a mom will reject its offspring, refusing to nurture or feed or care for it in any way.

That's what happened to baby Beau, a lamb born to a sheep on Olivia Akers' farm.

"Beau’s mom didn’t want to be a mom. I don’t have an exact answer as to why," Akers shared on Instagram. "I tried EVERYTHING under the sun to get her to accept Beau. Rubbing the placenta for scent, also tried with her milk, giving them time in close quarters. She got progressively more violent, telling me she didn’t want to do this. So I listened."

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Ramy Youssef at the 2017 MPAC Media Awards

Actor and comedian Ramy Youssef pulled off an incredible feat in his March 30, 2024 Saturday Night Live appearance, mixing religion, politics and humor in a way that disarmed and united people. Some people are calling it one of the best SNL monologues ever, and it's genuinely impressive to watch.

How often have you seen someone manage to talk about religion, prayer, the upcoming election, and something like the bombardment of Palestine in a way that isn't offensive, obnoxious, or overwrought and that's also funny? Never, right?

Youssef somehow did all of that in an 8-minute stand-up comedy routine that was equal parts warm, genuine, heartfelt and humorous.

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Joy

Couple lives permanently on cruise ships because it costs ‘half’ the price of life on land

"We now have a telephone bill, a ship bill and a few credit card bills for when we go ashore, but that's it.”

A white cruise ship crosses the sea.

Given the rapidly changing cost of living in the United States, lifestyle options that once seemed luxurious are now starting to look like good deals. A growing trend is that retirees are choosing to spend their golden years on cruise ships instead of living in a retirement community.

The latest examples of this trend are John, 76, and Melody Hennessee, 64. Before retiring, John was a doctor and the couple also owned an art gallery in Stuart, Florida. In 2021, the couple sold everything and purchased an RV to see the country, but after a few years, they were exhausted.

“The constant maintenance, fueling, and planning,” he told Realtor.com.

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Pop Culture

Why Beyonce's 'Protector' song has parents bawling

"Beyonce you gonna need to start paying for my therapy cause the way these tears are flowing."

Beyoncé/Youtube

Brb, grabbing tissues.

Not even 24 hours after its release, Beyoncé’s soulful, genre-bending “Cowboy Carter” album broke records on Spotify, becoming the platform’s most-streamed album in a single day so far this year.

With 27 tracks—ranging from thought-provoking covers to an eclectic array of originals—there’s a little something for everyone. There’s even a more whoopass version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.

But there’s one tune in particular that’s striking a cord with parents. Not to mention making them shed a few tears.

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