Amy: Last time we discussed how identifying a character’s lie is the key to discovering who she is and how to tell her deepest story. This post, we'll talk about specific lies and use an example to better explain how to apply a lie to your character's backstory.
Below is a partial list of lies I’ve developed from my background in counseling, teaching the concept of lies, and applying what I’ve learned to fictional characters.
I’m not enough
It’s all my fault
I’m a disappointment
Consider the lie “I’m not enough” and how a character would live out this lie. She might give up on life, become an alcoholic, an introvert who never leaves her home, or she might take on life to prove she’s more than enough through straight As, perfect work records, climbing the ladder as fast as she can.
How you apply the lie to your character is as unique as the characters you create.
One of my favorite characters is Ashley Walters, a tough, street-smart cop who has it all together. She graduated top of her police academy class and is a favorite with the people she serves because she goes the extra mile to care about victims and make sure justice is served. But inside, she knows she’s not enough. She’ll never measure up to her perfect, all-American brother, Eric. When he died and she wasn’t able to save him or bring his killer to justice, she had proof her lie was absolute truth. Even so, Ashley lives to prove she’s enough, to perform, to protect herself almost as much as she protects those she serves.
Doesn't Ashley's lie help you understand her inner working even though you haven't met her on the page yet?
Our job as writers is to take all we know about our characters and tell their stories to the very best of our ability. A heaping helping of prayer and dependence on God enables us to tell His story through ours. Chocolate covered lies can assist in that weighty goal and help us draw readers deep into stories of healing and hope.
Do you have a "favorite" lie you tend to use, or one that isn't mentioned above?
Her novels include the Place of Refuge series: Hiding in Plain Sight and Nowhere to Run, the Defenders of Hope series: Ransomed Dreams, Healing Promises, and Enduring Justice. Amy is also a contributing author of A Novel Idea: Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction, God Answers Moms’ Prayers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes.