Kurt Vonnegut tells us how short stories should be written. This is very apt after a stimulating conversation with new and old friends at the National Writers’ Conference in Birmingham at the weekend. At least two of his points came up in our conversation: start as close to the end as possible and write to please just one person. I’m not sure about saying, ‘to heck with suspense,’ I think something has to be held back otherwise why does the reader hang around? Answers on a postcard.