Review: The Lie That Tells a Truth, by John Dufresne

The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing FictionThe Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction by John DufresneMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dufresne’s The Lie That Tells a Truth is an excellent guide to the craft, I enjoyed the philosophy, but I would suggest that it is more for those who are theory novices (as distinct from writing novices) because it leaned toward ‘dumbing down’ and explained a little too much, at times.

One thing that may also attract those who read to be taught how to be a writer (as against writers reading for the insights shared by another) is that he gives almost equal time to how to get ideas as he does to how to execute them. I found these ‘idea parts’ surprising and frustrating because I just don’t think they have a place in a text aimed at writers. I know lots of people say they want to write but have no ideas and so would love a book full of how to get ideas but, to me, this is snake oil salesman stuff. When I hear someone who claims to want to write ask ‘where do you get ideas?’ I’m afraid my response is “Frankly, if you don’t know then count yourself lucky not to be haunted by them and stick to the joy of reading!” If you have no ideas, then you have nothing you’re compelled to express and, I think Dufresne would agree, no piece of writing – or art – is worth anything if the writer has nothing to say.

If I could give an extra half star for his including the correction of “try and” to “try to” in his “Small Craft Warnings” chapter at the end of the book, I would!

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