L is for Lie (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)
Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so the ideas I will be posting Monday through Saturday during April are free for any of you to use.
In what world would a lie not grab interest? I don’t know of any. They certainly can be lovely tools for tension in a Romance novel. Imagine that a hero and heroine met at some fancy writers’ convention somewhere. Neither expected to ever see each other again, despite the immediate attraction. They lived on opposite sides of the country. Knowing she’d never see Jon again, Tara chose not to expose every dark secret in her life. Especially the secret of the second reason she was in town, not just for the writers’ convention. Nope, she was there to visit her loser husband in prison and beg him to sign a divorce agreement. He refused. Her anger stayed with her all day until she’d met Jon. He made her laugh and forget the rest of the world existed, at least temporarily.
How did she know she’d run into Jon again? And worse, right when she thought she should fess up and be more forthcoming about her situation, a writing friend of Jon’s interrupted the conversation, and she lost her chance. During the conversation, which included some joke Tara couldn’t even remember, the writing friend says, “So what? We’re all single here, right?” And Jon laughs and looks at Tara with an expression as though he assumed she’d agree. And so she did, followed by a nervous laugh. Who wants to lay out the truth at a moment like that? You take it from there, you savvy romance writers.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a Mystery that didn’t incorporate a lie–more likely, oodles of them. In fact, without someone lying, would there even be a mystery? I haven’t had enough coffee to consider the question. So, let’s take those wannabe lovers mentioned under romance (above). To twist this little tale into a mystery, once they start seeing each other regularly, he’s going to end up dead. Naturally Tara is going to think it has something to do with that waste of skin sitting in prison. At least that’s what she thinks until she snoops in Jon’s mail and sees that he was up for a prestigious award, one that actually doles out money. Then her brains start thinking, Would a writer really kill another writer just for an award? For recognition and fame? She lets the idea simmer in her head while she rummages through his desk. There she finds some not so decent photos of the wife of another gentleman she’d met at the convention. Because of the shock, she doesn’t even think about the fingerprints she’s leaving on the photos.
Okay, mystery writers. You have a few suspects lined up; it’s that butt-in-chair time for you.
I couldn’t help notice that both Literary and lie start with an L. Literary stories often explore the dark crevices of a person’s life, so there’s bound to be a few little (or big) fibs to create an interesting array of shadows anytime a speck of light shines through. Monica never thought her lies were harmful–just little white ones, and usually for the benefit of saving someone’s feelings. She never really expected any half-truths or lies to catch up to her. The problem is, these little white blemishes became a habit. They became her demons.
For years she had never given them much thought, because they were generally told with good intentions. How would she know that the day would come that she’d forget what was the lie and what was the truth? And when the day did come, she finally has to come to terms with one fact–her lies were erasing her. She told so many that she came to believe them (with age, that’s easy to do), and she no longer recognized what her real opinion ever was. Suspecting as much, she wondered who she really was. Did she even know? Or had she glorified her own life with a series of lies just as she had everyone else’s?
Children’s stories can really heat up when one friend tells another a lie and it ends up hurting someone. Don’t be afraid of this idea. Even children’s story should reflect their real lives, and what child hasn’t told a lie or two and regretted it at some point? As long as you don’t make the story preachy, it will read as a true story to any child. So maybe Tanner never really beat Haley in the spelling bee. He simply told her brother that he did, just too get at him, and he didn’t know why he wanted to do that. He didn’t know her brother would tell their dad, a man who didn’t accept failure even from a fifth-grader. So in this story, the brother repeats the lie before they even hear from the actual officiators of the competition. This could mean trouble, for sure.
What ideas can you pull off the top of your head? If you can offer some ideas in genres I didn’t cover, such as horror, sci-fi, or fantasy, please share! My readers will appreciate it.