Monday, April 14, 2014

L IS FOR LIE


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.

Happy writing!

 

66 comments:

  1. So true! If there wasn't one or oodles of lies in a mystery...there wouldn't be one. Lies make a mystery's world go round? lol And I think its true for most literary work anyway, lies and deceits are part of the intrigue. :)

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    1. Yes, they do seem work for great stories. Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. Many fairy tales also are centered around lies, and Pinocchio's nose is a shining example. I agree that little white lies can turn ugly very quickly! Great stories, Debi!

    Julie

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    1. Yeah, I thought about Pinocchio when I wrote these prompts. :-)

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  3. Lies are good one for coming up with dozens upon dozens of ideas. They are so central to real life that they should be used in fiction as well.

    LittleCely from LittleCely's Blog

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  4. Great post Debi thank you! I'd never realised the essential-ness in story telling of this until you said it so beguilingly! I know you ask for ideas from the top of the head - mmmm, maybe sometimes people don't even know what they're lying about as memory doesn't serve them well? Or one who says they're going someplace only to be seen elsewhere?
    Garden of Eden Blog

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    1. Thanks for your input, Susan. I really appreciate it.

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  5. Lies is a word that I was brought up to be wrong as honesty is the best policy.
    I just love the way you write, and it's always a pleasure to visit your blog.
    Yvonne.

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  6. Ooh, ooh, you give me such wonderful ideas! I now want to see a story on Tara and Jon!

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  7. Great topic for the letter 'L' :)

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    1. Thank you, and I'm glad you stopped by.

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  8. Your Romance idea was a really good one, and I liked how you segued it into Mystery.

    I think the motivation(s) behind the lie is/are crucial to character development. Did the protagonist lie for a good reason? Was the antagonist lied to and that was why he/she became the antagonist?

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

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  9. My favorite genre to read is romance. Just one little lie can turn everything upside down in the world of romance. Definitely enjoyed reading your character list in the genres mentioned in this post! Great post btw!

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    1. Thank you so much, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  10. A mystery writer once said, "I don't trust any characters in a mystery. They're all capable of lying." A lie, or a cover-up, are the main ingredients in the most compelling stories.
    Play off the Page

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  11. Lies was one of the words I had in mind for L, Debi! I love how you've described situations - and of course lies make for great storylines!

    Thank you for dropping by my blog today!


    Vidya Sury
    Rocking the A to Z Challenge with Team Damyanti
    Limericks

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    1. Thank you, and I'm glad you paid me a visit here, too.

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  12. Lies are in almost everything, mysteries have to have them

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    1. I agree. Don't know how it could work without them.

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  13. Debi, thanks for being a new follower on my blog and for reading several posts! :) I'm flattered. Also, my L-word is LIE too. Great minds, huh? I'm looking forward to getting to know you better. Stay in touch.

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    1. Thanks for the return follow. I appreciate it, and I'm looking forward to more of your posts.

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  14. A lie leads to lots of possibilities for tension, conflict, confusion, plot development etc.
    You probably can't have a story without some form of a lie, whether it is a "harmless" fib or a "soul-destroying type" of lie... oooh, the endless combinations can make for an epic story...

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    1. I agree! Thanks for stopping by, Michelle.

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  15. Let's face it, not everyone is honest (at least most of the time), so it's normal to have characters to let one go now and then. Could save their life even. :)

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    1. I can imagine a good lie could be a lifesaver – very true.

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  16. Learned early on not to lie. Sooner or later the truth comes out!

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    1. Yeah, but they sure do add tension in stories. :-) Getting caught in them works even better.

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  17. Hi Debi, thanks for the follow, am following you now. Practically all of us lie for something or the other. If not a straightforward lie, we definitely conceal the truth. My character too lies to win some brownie points.

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    1. Thanks for returning the follow. Yeah, I think those who say they never lie are lying. :-)

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  18. debi: Archetypal Literary Criticism is my "thing." No single summary can adequately address every pattern, myth, or archetype. However, the most common archetype appearing in literature and film is that of the heroic quest, or the journey of the hero.

    We are all on a journey through life. During our journeys, we are born, we live our lives, and we die. The details of our journeys differ, because we do not all live the same life. Likewise, in literature and film, the details are subject to the perspectives of authors and producers.

    Throughout the ages, many stories are told and retold in similar fashion. Some become classics, and some do not. Some are geared for adults, and some for children. Yet, the thread that connects these stories is the archetypal narrative heroic quest pattern that endures time.

    Consider Homer's classic heroic epic, The Odyssey. In the tale, the hero Odysseus embarks on an adventure as he attempts to return home after the Greek victory in the Trojan War. Now, change gears and follow Little Red Riding Hood on her journey to grandma's house. Many people hesitate to read Homer's classic, but read the children's story frequently. At first glance, the fairy tale appears easier to understand. Nevertheless, the same narrative pattern exists in both tales. The hero must overcome the difficult journey hoping to arrive safely at a home sanctuary. In one story, the heroine faces the dangers in the forest. In the other, the hero faces the dangers on the seas. One protagonist must battle the giant Cyclops, and the other battles the Big Bad Wolf. It is the same story! Just like in real life, only the details have changed.

    An interesting phenomenon is that, as human beings, even when we make things up, we draw our information from the folklore that preceded us.

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    1. Thank you for such an eloquent reply. One of my current works in progress explores the journey of a hero who is going to mess up a time or two. I was inspired to read it after studying Milton, Spenser, and other great writers, and then reading Charlotte's Web and The wizard of Earthsea. I liked the journey in everything I read.

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  19. I love this post! And you certainly it right with every story and how lies are used to create tension, plot, and even lessons for children.

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    1. Thanks for the reply and the follow, Chrys. I'm glad you liked this post. :-)

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  20. A lie, or a red herring (although a bit different), is crucial in a mystery. And I love JJ's answer above. Even when we tell a lie, we take our information from folklore, or a variety therein. Great post, Deb. I'm really enjoying myself reading your posts and the discussion.

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    1. Thanks, it's been fun. Glad you are enjoying it.

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  21. So much comedy/romantic comedy is built around a lie that just gets bigger and bigger and ever more complicated . . .

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  22. Yep, and that's in part what makes it interesting. :-)

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  23. I can imagine how important a lie about a planet or galaxy or whatever would be in a sic fi story. "It has water and oxygen." "The natives are peaceful." "Your findings will give you immortality. All you have to do is get back home." I don't write sic fi, but I love reading it.

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    1. Thanks for the comments and thoughts. I appreciate it.

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  24. Interesting A-Z theme you have going! I just followed you by email, from http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/ Nice to meet you too, Debi :)

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    1. Okay, I see you said you just followed me by email, but are you sure you gave the right email address? Because I don't see you under the email subscribers. Just thought I would double check, because I have accidentally put typos in my own email address when I'm trying to subscribe. :-)

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  25. Likewise! Thanks for subscribing. :-)

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  26. I think lies are great fodder, no matter the genre--whether it be the lies the MC believes, the lies society purports, or the lies between characters. They definitely kick up some amazing conflict.

    True Heroes from A to Z

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  27. Every choice represents a crossroads. The lie is a different path than the truth. (Still loving the Literary bits!) :)

    The Immarcescible Word

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm glad you're finding something useful here.

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  28. Hi debi. Thanks for running into my blog! Lovely to meet you. I enjoyed your post. My romance which is at the editor's, has a few built in lies which really help the tension of the story. Hope you're enjoying the A-Z.

    I've followed your blog so see you soon!

    Denise

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    1. Thanks for the return follow, and I'm looking forward to more of your posts. Let me know when the new romance is out.

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  29. Outright lies, lies of omission, the consequences of lying... all produce excellent tension in any genre.

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    1. Yes, they do, and I like the complications they can add to a story. :-)

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  30. Choosing to lie leads to all sorts of results. I love how you worked it through the different genres.

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    1. Thanks, Susan, and thanks for stopping by.

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  31. Fun and inspiring as usual!! :) Great stuff, Debi!

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    1. Thank you, Ava. It's been fun writing them, not that I won't enjoy May 1. :-)

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  32. Ah, the literary world is prolific with lies! As is almost every genre. If someone doesn't lie, how can there be a story, lol. As for fantasy; well, most magic is a lie. The real magic takes so much energy and psychological commitment that it is only worth expending for really important matters.

    You know, a good deception (lie) is about 90 percent truth.

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    1. 90 percent truth. Huh. That's an interesting tidbit. :-)

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  33. So many interesting ideas. And you are right. Every story has a lie and more often than not the lie is central to the story.
    Sania @ Fragile Words

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, and I'm sorry I didn't notice it until a week later. I'm on my way to your blog now. :-)

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  34. Lies have consequences. It's a great concept for children's stories. You don't need to be preachy, just let the young reader know what those consequences are.

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    1. That's the way it would have to be, Chuck. Thanks for stopping by.

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