When you start with ‘The best fiction is about a character who changes in some significant way’

A rant about writing advice…

When you start with the ‘the best fiction is about a character who changes in some significant way’ you immediately get my hackles up. I start to feel the impulse to rant. Why is that when people give out advice about writing they have to make statements about their preferences as if they were facts? This sort of thing does a disservice to anyone trying to learn the craft of writing. Is it ignorance? Perhaps in some cases. I suspect that a lot of the advice givers are afraid of diluting their statement by adding “in my opinion” or “what works for me” or “I prefer to read”. In the particular case of the prejudice ‘characters have to change for it to be good fiction’ one can find entire genres (and the genre wouldn’t exist if the readers of that genre didn’t like its conventions) where the characters don’t change. Some of the most popular writers of all time tell stories where their characters don’t change. (I’m thinking of detective and humor genres in particular.) So, sure, tell us that character change is what makes great fiction, just throw us a bone and tell us that its your opinion, not some rule carved on the Commandments of Writing tablets.

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