Jan. 28th, 2017

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The other day I was talking to someone who is writing a novel. She told me about some advice she'd gotten from the spouse of a published writer. So, someone who wasn't actually a writer but felt qualified to give advice about writing because her husband was.

I can't remember all of the horrible advice this totally-not-qualified person gave my friend, because there was so much of it, but two things leaped out. The first, to strive to have as little dialogue as possible. Why? Because, she said, dialogue did nothing to develop the characters or move the plot. The second, never have any of your characters swear. Ever.

Did I mention my friend's novel takes place in the military, and she served in Afghanistan?

I was horrified and told my friend to dismiss anything the other woman told her, because it sounded more like a description of her personal tastes than an objective view of good writing.

Fortunately, my friend is reading a bunch of novels that use military characters and has seen that not only is there a lot of dialogue, but there is a lot of swearing. That's why people need to read books and not just rely on advice. There's a lot of BS out there and reading will tell new writers how to recognise bad advice.

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