Through real-life patterns of deception, we can identify weaknesses in our writing and shift those weaknesses into strengths. With that in mind, I offer the following summary of this series.
The Poor Liar
- Fakes emotions in the moment
- Provides excess details to prevent the listener from questioning their authority
- Dumps information
- Forgets or contradicts essential points in their narrative
- Uses language defensively, as a barrier to keep their listener at bay
In short, the poor liar spoon-feeds their audience because they don’t trust them. They either control every aspect of their narrative so tightly that it loses all authenticity, or they treat it with such vagueness that it never had any to begin with.
The Skillful Liar
- Mimics authentic emotional patterns
- Keeps details to a minimum so as not to draw unnecessary attention
- Strategically withholds information
- Maintains continuity in their narrative
- Uses language as the tool it is, as a mechanism to draw their listener close
Skillful liars exploits their audience’s truth bias. They use cooperation defaults to further their deception instead of allowing those defaults to constrain them within the boundaries of truth.
As fiction writers, we need to be skillful liars, not poor ones. Our ability to engage our readers and to keep them engaged depends largely on how well our stories resonate with their perception of truth. Immersive reading only occurs when the reader forgets they have a book in their hands and starts living within those pages instead.
In her first chapter of Liespotting, Pamela Meyer shines light on an incredible truth.
“The liar and the recipient participate in a fabric of mythmaking together. A lie does not have power by its utterance—its power lies in someone agreeing to believe the lie.”
Pamela Meyer, Liespotting, p. 22
This hold true for fiction as well as real life. The author and the audience are partners in creation. Thus, when you engage in Cooperative Deception, your words have power.
So, with that in mind,
- Trust your audience. They are with you for this ride.
- Lie to them with every pattern of truth you can mimic.
And that is the end of this series. Now get out there, my lovelies, and let your stories take over the world.
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