Lies and Assumptions

Innocent CatI’ve been reviewing my novel for consistency, reading through the story, checking that each character is behaving in line with their character arc. I found a scene where Marie turned to Dana and lied. Now, she had a good reason to lie, but that isn’t the point. Because these characters had a basis of trust, I’d let the lie go unchallenged and affect the rest of the scene. Problem: Dana has a natural truth sense and Marie was lying to her blatantly. The scene was too inconsistent with the rest of the novel. I had to go back and re-work the scene so that Marie could find a way to mask the truth without out-right lying.

Ah, how close is this to reality?

I recently walked into a situation where I knew a person was likely to lie to me. Somehow, I managed to convince myself that this time would be different. Why is it that I am always so shocked when people lie? I grew up with a father who told everyone I was his only child. (I was his 6th.) Even when this person lied to me, I somehow convinced myself that this time was different. This time, maybe she was telling the truth.

And maybe she was.

Maybe she was telling me what she believed to be the truth. When I pointed out the (rather glaring) lie, the resulting back-lash was everything I should have expected. Why? Because people don’t like to be confronted, especially when caught in a lie.

I am so envious of my psionic characters and their ability to see truth. Envious and annoyed. Annoyed enough that I enjoy putting Dana in situations where she is deceived. How? Because sometimes she just assumes that someone is telling her the truth. When the patterns of life fit into a “normal” framework, she doesn’t assume that she might be lied to. She assumes that she’s being told the truth.

I’m envious of my friends with law enforcement training, too. I watched a recent episode of Amazing Race where two teams with this wonderful lie-detector training came face to face over a lie. What a great example of body language! Knowing the truth, it is easy for those of us watching to see the signs of a lie. What do your characters do when they see those signs in your story? If you’re a reader and not a writer, do you notice writers playing with truth, lies and assumptions in the stories you read? What do you do in real life?

A follow on question: I have heard it said that there is no “truth” in our modern world. Anyone who reads this blog knows I believe in absolute truth, but what about the minor truths in inter-personal relations? Do you think it is possible to know where truth lies?

What do you do when someone lies to your face? Worse: what do you do when two people you trust tell you diametrically opposed versions of an event? In real life, I find these situations devastating. In fiction, I find that they enhance the believability of the story…because, it is so true: sometimes people lie. Or is that just an assumption I’m making?

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