If I quote everything I'd like to respond to, this post will be larger than my bed sheet in the end... Heh.
So instead, I hope you forgive me - I would like to simply let my thoughts on the topic flow freely, and if someone is interested in reading them, they'll surely find reference to Amelia's blog and Rick's response.
Vonnegut's 8 rules are more or less half of the rules I follow when writing.
Rule 1 - yes, if you write a book and your mom reads it, they will not feel their time was wasted. But a total stranger will have their time wasted unless they earn something from your writing - entertainment, information, or a message to ponder over. Or with other words - write with a purpose that lies within the pages of your book.
Rule 2 - it's pretty much quite simple, absolutely essential, and so far undeniable. Nothing to say here, I follow it blindly.
Rule 3 - again, simple, extremely important, undeniable. Nothing to say about that one.
Rule 4 - I disagree with it. Or, if you wish, I add an "almost" in it - ALMOST every sentence should reveal character or advance the action. It depends on the individual style, skill, and goal of the writer, of course. To me, there's sentences that are aimed at the reader, not the plot. Description of scenery, for example - it aims to plunge the reader into the world you're creating, or to underline or contrast to the character's current emotions or actions, etc. Description is, at least in my works, vital, and it's instrumental as well - but it neither reveals character nor does it advance the action. So... Almost every sentence.
Rule 5 - more or less. I'd say - start where it gets interesting. What LED the story and the characters to the point where it got interesting can be revealed through dialogue, author's comments, flashbacks, etc depending on the writer's style and writing preferences. But to make your reader go through 200 pages of booooring everyday life before something happens is just stupid, I think. And it breaks half the other rules
Rule 6 - Again - undeniable, essential, and correct. Plots are driven by conflict - whether it's an emotional one inside the character, a social one between two or several characters, or a global event that the characters are dumped into - but conflict is what makes it all tick. So yeah... give the good guys hell ^_^
Rule 7 - I agree, metaphorically. What defines most genres in modern literature is that they predominantly attract a certain group of people - young or old, male or female, goths or nerds, etc. So I'd say - sit down and think hard what group of readers you're aiming to please, and keep it in mind. Make it your goal to write for that specific group. Writing sleazy romance novels aimed to please older male gun owners isn't gonna work. Writing complicated, sophisticated lawyer drama for children doesn't work, as well. So my own rule is - KNOW WHO YOU'RE WRITING FOR, AND WRITE FOR THEM FIRST.
Rule 8 - I agree partially. Again, here I mostly see it as a figure of speech. This is Vonnegut, after all, hehe
I follow this rule in the following way: I aim to make the world and the story I'm creating full of life and color, vibrant, vivid, dynamic. And this cannot be achieved if the reader has no freaking idea what the world is like, or the story. Vonnegut never aimed for much suspense - I'm sure Stephen King's rule 8 is the almost exact opposite of Vonnegut's... lol. My own rule is - through description, narrative summary, dialogue and action to add more and more and more detail to make the reader FEEL my world and my story. Of course, it shouldn't be overdone. But still - make your words echo within your reader's all five senses. Make them walk on your highways, smell the perfume of your beautiful girl, hear the sirens of your police cars. Make them understand what world your character lives in - geography, politics, economics, demography, social tension, everything. They want to know about the world of your characters. If they didn't, they'd be reading the newspaper instead.
I have several other rules that I follow and I deem essential. But they are not the purpose of this blog