Good writers, good liars - Page 3


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Thread: Good writers, good liars

  1. #21
    This is such a thrilling topic. I believe there's a significant difference between writing and lying, though. A good lie defines as such because the person being lied to cannot detect the lie. Every person reading a story generally knows it's fiction (which makes this topic so much more compelling because where do we draw the line? When does a lie become acceptable in favor of our own entertainment?). That's probably why I'm a much better writer than I am a liar, since in writing, I don't focus on selling a believable truth but rather on expressing myself. To me, lying is a process which has to follow certain rules to be successful, and while that can apply to writing too, I believe the core of good writing is the creativity behind it while the core of a good lie is the delivery and the construction behind it. Lying needs a certain amount of creativity and writing needs a certain amount of construction and delivery, but not to the same degree as the other.
    That being said, a lot of writers probably focus on 'selling a truth' in their stories and might view this completely differently. That's the beauty of writing

  2. #22
    I was an interrogator for eight years in the US Army so I suppose I have a different perspective on lies and lying. It may seem odd but interrogators often ferret out lies by lying ourselves. To that end we are school trained on how to lie effectively which is to say I was a professional liar. When I am writing I am not lying, I am creating. I think it goes back to the intent behind your actions. If you are trying to deceive, manipulate, or control people with your words, whether written or spoken, then you are lying. If you are spinning a tale for entertainment, although some of the elements may be similar to lying, it's the intent that makes the difference. Writing is creating, not lying.

  3. #23
    There are a number of different ways that we, as authors, can "lie" to our audience and get away with it. I put that in quotes because I feel like in this context, the concept of lying is very fluid.

    Obviously, there's the notion that we are making stuff up. But is that really a lie? It could be argued that "lying" involves an intent to deceive, but is that really the case in a fictional story? Presumably, all parties involved -- the author and the readers -- understand that they are participating in a fiction. No one finishes The Lord of the Rings having been convinced by Tolkein that hobbits and magic are real. If one of the conditions of a lie is the intent that the other party accept it as truth... then in this sense, we can't be lying when we are blatantly making things up for a story.

    In another context, we can lie to the reader outright. That is, our intent absolutely is to deceive. The device of the "unreliable narrator" comes to mind, where we are definitely trying to make the reader accept an untrue reality, only to later reveal that what they thought they knew was false.

    Those are just a couple of examples... but there's another side of this, too.

    The best liars are also good at truth, and often the most convincing lies are ones that are mostly true. Authenticity is a thing hammered into writers all the time. Good world building isn't just about the stuff you make up, but also about the truth you weave into those "lies" in order to make the reader accept it. Characters don't feel real when they behave in ways that feel false.

    Literally anyone can make stuff up.

    It's the people who can make stuff up convincingly that can become good writers.

    So I'd say that good writers are good liars AND good truth tellers.

  4. #24
    Real lies have consequences. The "lies" we tell in our stories do not.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by becwriter View Post
    Real lies have consequences. The "lies" we tell in our stories do not.

  6. #26
    As Picasso said, art is a lie that enables us to realise the truth.

  7. #27
    One of my teachers used to say that to teach is to systematically lie; that it is the process of telling a series of lies each closer to the truth. He said that truth is an absolute, and as such cannot be taught but only discovered by the individual.

    In a sense, the story we tell can be considered a lie because we use it as a way to lead the reader to consider a particular issue and arrive at their own conclusion about it.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Desperation is a great motivator
    No, we just get used to concealing a huge part of our daily life.
    Sometimes it almost feels like being a sleeper agent or something, all the secrets.

  9. #29
    I don't know if this is a symptom of the age we live in or what, but I kind of feel like lying isn't the big deal that most of us always espouse it to be.

    Here's why: We know everybody lies. I'm not even talking about white lies, either. I mean actual lies. I have to lie as part of my job, to customers, unless I want to tell them point blank we fucked them over -- which I can't and, frankly, don't want to. Whenever I'm at a store and somebody asks "How are you?" I lie, because I can't be bothered to even process it as a question. And they're probably lying by acting like they care. Cops lie routinely.

    I spent half my legal years lying. Actually, that's a lie...I spent basically all of them lying.

    I see truth as being more an aspiration than a given. Truth exists and it is important, but more important than whether or not we lie is who we lie to and what the motivation and outcome is. I really try not to lie to my wife about anything, for instance. But the fact that I don't lie to her (much, ha) is less about any aversion to lying and more about preservation of her trust. The things I am honest with her about I would be more than happy to lie to other people about.

    I think when we talk about writers being liars it's probably important to say that the reason it is so easy to lie is because it is very much a natural human instinct. The degree of prevalence is more about the relationship with our readers. The writer's relationship with their readers is generally pretty distant, and yes it's usually fairly inconsequential, so it feels easy to just make up shit. I think when human beings are able to separate themselves from their audience we become inherently dishonest people. I mean, the internet proves that, right?

  10. #30
    Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

    Seriously though, the difference between a lie and fiction is intent. We don't write fiction with the intent to lie. It's not meant to deceive. Propaganda, on the other hand is intended to deceive. That's why it isn't literature. Fiction tells truth through metaphor and parables. It creates made-up circumstances or context to create or recreate a certain human condition in which truth reveals itself. That is not the same thing as telling a lie.

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