Posted on 18 December 2009

Sometimes, it is just easier to lie.  Sometimes, it is even the best option.  Sometimes a lie protects those you love, or is the only sane way out of a situation.  There are lots of reasons—good and bad—to lie, and I know a good number of them, having been on one side or the other of them.  Then, there is lying in a story.

Now, granted, a work of fiction is, in and of itself, just one big fib.  But sometimes it works to have the characters lie to each other, or even themselves.  But, just as in real life, where lies add extra levels of complexity to what is almost always already a complex situation, so is it in writing.  Before you know it, you will have the plot depending on internal lies more than anything else, and then it is going to be a painful, tangled mess when, at the end, you have to explain “whodunit” without being boring and more or less retelling the entire story again.

There is also the issue of plot simplicity.  Yes, a lie here or a lie there can add a nice twist, but in real life, people have a habit of lying through their teeth once they get started, and if you do that in a story, well, see the first point I made above.  It can also be annoying to the reader, depending on how much the character lives the lie, without an adequate amount of foreshadowing and subtle hints in actions and words to indicate the lie.

The last thing with lies is to make sure they aren’t really far out there, or immediately contradicted, and have the person being lied to completely miss it.  While maybe this can work for a character who is just that dumb, but seriously, if it is more than a spear carrier, don’t do it.  It just makes me want to tear my hair out.

Oh, and on the real life lying thing: yes I know how, but I despise myself when I even lie by staying quite or omission, let alone full up falsehoods.  What grinds my gears the most, though, is when I’m lied to, especially for no reason at all.

And no, I haven’t been lied to (that I can confirm) recently, just had a random twitch make me want to write this.  So nyah.  Happy Holidays and all that.

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