To live is to lie

Fiction is lying.

The fabrication of a make-believe story, perhaps without a shred of substantiation in the real world, is, in all meaningful ways, a lie. Some archeologists believe that the ability to lie, to tell stories, may be what set Homo Sapiens Sapiens apart. The imagining of an untrue event or situation is effectively self-deception. You lie to yourself envisioning the story and then lie to others in telling it.

Everyone lies. If you can create an imaginary world, if you can daydream of some future possibility or rework some past debacle or failure in some better light, you’re effectively inventing a temporary lie.

Stories which depict truthful characters, virtuous and pure champions are boring. As we all lie, creating a character who does not, conflicts with all of our natural understanding of human behavior.

Therefore, in writing fiction, lie. Lie with the telling and then have every one of your characters fib in some way, small or large. Double speak builds intrigue. Deceit is delicious. Layering speculation upon a character’s actions and speech seasons the reader’s mind with savory questions. The more ‘why’s you have, the more conflict you can drive into your story.

Secrets are lies, one could say. Given the opportunity to divulge a notion and failing to do so? Why? Is the information contained within that secret a form of leverage? Power? Did your character lie when they said they didn’t know of an underground passage out of the castle? So they could use it themselves? Why allude to an unloaded gun when simply by hefting it I can tell it’s got at least five rounds in it. Why whisper to me of your upcoming betrayal? To implicate me as well? To persuade me to lie upon your behalf when confronted?

To live is to lie. Our stories should be no different.

16 thoughts on “To live is to lie

  1. Hi AMole,

    Nice post. Funny, I read Homer and it should have been Homo Sapiens. As I continued, Homer worked just fine. You have hit perfectly this idea of truth and lies as being just another way to say, hey I’m living…here I am dammit. No religion, no literature, no relationships, no peace, no war, no love, no nothing without the built-in gear, which is right behind our eyes, that spits out lies. I am unconcerned about lies turning into the truth, since the truth can just as easily become a lie. That process probably balances out over time. It makes no difference. It is as you say, people living upon the earth. Lies are like our skin or our hair. A friend of mine spent most of his life eating organic, but ended up with heart disease. His first comment to me was, “My whole life has been a lie.” Consider the babies stolen during the dirty war in Argentina or the Tonkin Gulf Resolution or FDR standing there or most anything out of the mouth of Trump. The Nazis destroyed a good chunk of mankind based upon a long list of lies that people operated upon as if they were true. WTF. The only things that really matter are politeness, kindness, and how one is feeling at any given moment. Health is right up there. Outside of all that, I write informed fiction and am proud of it. As we have discussed before, I will go with a feeling of honesty over my version of the truth. Yes, factual things can be boring. You got that right. Hope you and family are well. Thanks. Duke.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Read this and thought of you:

      Click to access How_to_Change_Your_Mind_excerpt.pdf

      All of what you said, and to top it off, the mind is a fabricator of reality: take in processed information and construct a rational world which resides solely within the mind. A fabrication? How could a virtualized construct ever be associated with truth?

      I like your sentence: “I will go with a feeling of honesty over my version of the truth.” Yes.


  2. To George – one should never deny intent and its kharmic repercussions. As far as fiction is concerned, one would need to consider all imagining to be somehow untruthful is as you say, its all a lie. As fiction lives in a realm of its own, so it presents a truth of its own. Fiction is no more than setting imaginings to words. To lie as fabrication to avoid realworld consequences is one thing. (See kharmic bit above). The dog ate my homework. To produce a “fabrication” for escapist enjoyment is entirely another. Set it in motion in the “real” world and it real. Set in motion on a page and it is no more than imaginings with army men and dolls playing football on the floor of your closet. A yo yo and a basket and a dump truck becoming a tug boat scenario in your grandmother’s kitchen on a rainy day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hah, is that not a lie in itself: honesty to a fault?
    Coloring the truth, saving your bacon, deceit…all lies, yeah agreed.
    Imagination, creation, — a much deeper and wider expression of oneself.
    I just have to save imagination and fantasy from the criminal content I see lurking in a lie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (And I’m generally honest to a fault. That’s why I wanted to see if I could motivate myself toward twisting the truth as I write my next few hundred thousand words…)


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