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Know Jack #298 Telling Good Lies

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

I have been guilty now and again of inserting a line or a scene into a story that seems to occur only to take the story where I want it to go. There’s no foundation for, or reason for the hero to ask a question except that the answer leads to the next scene. It’s false and it sounds that way when you read it.

I used to repeat to my kids the sound advice of Judge Judy concerning the creation of a lie—that if it doesn’t make sense, it’s a lie. That’s what happens when this happens in writing. The author gets caught in a lie and the story falls apart.

Yes, I know I write fiction—by definition it’s not true. There’s an agreement between me and the readers that I’m going to lie, and they are going to suspend their belief long enough to get involved in the lie.

However, the lie must be believable. The falsehood I’m selling must make sense or the reader is not going along for the ride. Good lies are so heavily wrapped in truth that they go unnoticed. That is how fiction works. Fiction authors put in countless hours researching the truth for the sole purpose of weaving flights of fantasy into something that sounds real.

Imagine with me that there is a virus sweeping the world. It is so virulent that 0.02% of those who contract it die. The hero rides to the rescue with a vaccine that he constructed from odds and ends he found in the room in which he was locked down. The government proclaims it the world’s salvation and funds it for millions.

Still, many people don’t flock to the offered free salvation. The holders of the vaccine offer millions of dollars in prizes to lure the unvaccinated out of hiding. But even that doesn’t work. BAM! Yet another new strain. This one is resistant to the natural antibodies made by those who had already contracted the virus. It could only be prevented by—you guessed it the original vaccine!

Dr. Fauci is no fiction writer, and it shows. However, neither is he a nonfiction writer. He’s just a poor liar. Yet, he’s the government’s liar. The evil doctor is granted credence because the story is going someplace the government has decided it must go. Washington has never been good at crafting stories either.

If you’re still listening to this poorly written fiction, please, go to your local library and check out a good novel. (Better yet, buy one of mine.) You’ll likely be surprised at how much more believable it is than the writing shared by the nightly news.


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