Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chocolate Covered Lies, Part One

This is the first of a two-part post. Be sure to read the second part on Wednesday, July 31.

We have a number of plotting tools in our belts. I asked author Amy Wallace about one of our most important. 

"In plotting our stories, we focus on the goal, motivation, and conflict. But we also need to know that lie that our character believes about himself. Why do we need to know this? What are the main lies? For Christian writers, how can creating that lie affect the spiritual growth of our characters?"--Sandy

AmyLies are my favorite fiction tool! I call them chocolate covered because understanding our character’s lie sweetens our fiction and draws readers into hope and healing—some of God’s most filling gifts.

First, I’ll define what I mean by a character’s lie and share how identifying a character’s lie is the key to discovering who she is and how to tell her deepest story.
In the second post about lies, I'll list some common lies and share how I've applied this concept of lies to one of my main character's backstories.
Let's jump in with a definition: A lie is what we believe about ourselves—true or not—that drives every one of our actions.
To some degree, all of us believe something about ourselves that isn’t true. We’re too this or not enough that. But lies are even deeper, the core basis of our identity.
A common lie is I'm not good enough. As we talk about how lies are the key to our characters, I'll apply this lie to our discussion.

First, lies make our characters come alive. Even if a reader has never identified a belief about herself as a lie, it's likely she's felt or experienced thoughts of not being good enough: I'll never measure up. Or Why can't I ever get this right? Lies allow a reader to have that "me too" experience and then stick with your story until she finds answers about how to overcome that lie and grow.

Lies also enable us to keep our character’s journey focused and enhance conflict. If everything that comes against our character beats on her lie in one way or another, we deepen the lie and it becomes more and more a part of who she is. Lies are powerful motivators … and destroyers of dreams. So when we trace our character’s pathway using her lie as a guidepost, we create a believable and impossible-to-ignore journey that carries with it the potential to point readers, and ourselves, to the truth and toward healing.

Finally, lies provide a way to end the story well. If your character's lie is that she's not good enough and the conflicts of the story seem to confirm that as truth, a satisfying ending can be found in your character experiencing the truth of God's acceptance and reassurance that she is loved and wanted for who she is. Growth comes when your character experiences truth and then accepts her lie is false. Then she begins to make decisions based on who God says she really is.
When we allow our fiction to show how God can change us from believing lies to trusting Him and what He says about us, we’re creating healing fiction—healing for us and for our readers.

What is the lie your main character believes about him/herself? How has it affected the plot of your story?


Amy Wallace writes Dark Chocolate Suspense—high-action suspense that delves deep into heart issues. Amy is a homeschool mom, speaker, online writing instructor, co-leader of a young writer’s club, and avid chocoholic.

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.