Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Big Lie

" ... there have been several break-ins in your neighborhood and around the surrounding area. You need to protect your house and yourself."
I received that call one night and my heart started racing. The man claimed to be from local law enforcement, but I hadn't heard about any break-ins lately. I listened long enough to realize it was a sales call from a security company. A quick search on the Internet confirmed my suspicions -- it was a big lie.

The Lies Our Characters Believe

There's no doubt about: lies are bad. Once someone lies to you, it's hard to ever believe them again. But as writers, we can use lies to increase drama and build our character arc. I'm a member of My Book Therapy, an online writers group that provides both craft and emotional support for writers. If you're a member, you'll hear lots about the Dark Moment and the Big Lie. Here's the gist of those two concepts: When you start to develop your protagonist think about the darkest moment of their lives -- the moment that defines who they are and what they do. The result of that moment is the Big Lie, what they believe to be true based on that Dark Moment. It's why they act as they do.

For example, in
It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey taunts his little brother, Harry, and challenges him to slide across an icy pond. When Harry falls in to the pond, George saves him but loses his hearing. Because Harry almost drowns, George feels guilty. That was his Big Lie. That's why he continued to sacrifice his dreams to rescue others until he was shown how their lives would have been empty without him.

The Lies We Believe

There's also the types of lies we tell ourselves. I can't tell you how many times I look at the flashing cursor on my blank screen and think, "I have nothing to say" or "No one wants my opinion." But here's why we should continue to write: because God has put that urge to write into our heart. He gives us the words to say. 

And that's quite a responsibility, isn't it? But who are we to say that we're not worthy to do what God has called us to do? Philippians 1:6 says, "
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." That means it is His work, not ours. He will complete it through us.

Have you used the Big Lie in your writing? Do you have your own Big Lie that keeps you from writing?


  1. This is so true, Angie. Satan tries to jab us in the elbow and tell us what we do will never be good enough, and that's a HUMONGOUS lie. We have God on our side!

    Great post, Angie. I'm also a big fan of Susan May Warren's My Book Therapy from the old days. Can't wait to see you in a couple weeks!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Dora! Yes, we do have God on our side. That's our not-so-secret weapon against those lies and the Big Liar. Praise God for his protection and strength!

      Thank you so much. I've started following the My Book Therapy site more closely recently (ugh, two adverbs) and have been learning so much.

      Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing you, too, dear friend! Can't wait to see a real book-signing pro in action! ;)

      If anyone's in the Concord, NC area on Saturday, July 14th, Dora Hiers, Myra Johnson, Amy Clipston, Jennifer Hudson Taylor, Jennifer Fromke, Mary Urban and Lynette Eason will be signing books to benefit a local women's shelter at the Kmart from 1-3. Email me for more info: aearndt (at) gmail (dot) com.

    2. Thanks, Angie. I love this concept. It's such a clear way to think about that big issue our characters need to overcome. It's also a good reminder to not believe the lies about our writing journey. Lately I've been thinking about God delighting in my writing, rejoicing with me over my successes--even the little ones. It's been incredibly freeing and lovely. Zeph. 3:17

    3. What a wonderful verse, Ocieanna! And what a great way to think about our writing journey. He really does delight in our successes! Love that.

      Thanks for making me smile! :)

  2. Angie, thanks for your encouraging article and reminder to turn off those negative thoughts! We need to remember the source--and it's not God. (I'm also a fan of My Book Therapy!)

  3. You're welcome, Dawn! It's so hard to do, too when the other voice won't hush. But God is in control, isn't he. (No question mark on that one.)

    Thanks so much for the comment. :)

  4. I'm a better writer because of the lessons learned through My Book Therapy. By giving my characters a lie, I'm able to build up the truth they receive by the end of the story. As for my own lies--they're so easy to echo inside my head, but the truth is, they're not from God. Thanks for a wonderful post, Angie!

  5. Thank YOU, Lisa! As part of the My Book Therapy staff, you, Susie May, Rachel, Reba and Beth have taught me so much. The Big Lie is just one little piece. There are so many goodies in that community of writers.

    Those internal lies do echo again and again, don't they? Just when I think I've gotten one of them conquered, it'll pop up again in another form. Thank God, literally, that we are His children and He is victorious.


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