IF YOU’RE GOING TO LIE, AT LEAST MAKE IT BELIEVABLE

imagesCA7KKWQ3The other day Thing 3 and I were watching TV. A commercial came on, I can’t remember what it was about or even what the gist of it was. All I can remember is it was pretty ridiculous, way out there, basically–unbelievable. Thing 3 yelled out, “Oh my God! If you’re going to lie, at least make it believable!”

And that got me to thinking…about writing.

Writers are storytellers, especially fiction writers. We have to embellish, bend the truth, make up worlds, make up characters and so on.  In essence we are telling “tall tales” which is in and of itself another term for “lying.”

The difference for us writers is, we have to make the lie, or tale, believable. Even if we have werewolves, vampires, gods and goddesses, magic-wielding witches, demons and so forth, we still have to make the story logical and make the reader believe our line of logic.

Telling a tale is simple. Making someone believe the tale is hard.

I’ll use Kim Harrison’s The Hollows as an example. In her books, she uses  biology and science in explaining how some humans can wield magic, how Rachel–the main character–who had “Rosewood syndrome” survived, how witches can access magic through “ley lines,” and so forth. It makes the story believable.

And then there are the characters. Even if your storyline is believable, your characters have to be believable as well. If your characters are one-dimensional, such as the hero who has no faults or weaknesses, the bad guy who is constantly homicidal and never once stops to smell the roses, your characters fall flat and so does the story.  The Myers & Briggs Type Indicator is a good resource for figuring out who your characters are.

And if you’re interested, you can find out about yourself, too.

 

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