Why Lies Create Interesting Characters

Gideon's Screenwriting Tips: Now You're a Screenwriter

What is a lie? Quite simply it’s statement that isn’t entirely true. This can be deliberate or unintended. Malicious or frivolous.

Psychologists argue that people consciously tell lie to protect themselves. It’s a social and physical defence mechanism. It may mean that they aren’t ready to face a trauma or the pain of a lie is better than the truth.

Telling something that is untrue may also be a function of ignorance (wilful or not), having insufficient facts, or simply interpreting the available information in a biased or incorrect way. This is often used as a comedic premise in film and TV; the buffoon who is blissfully unaware of the facts, says things which trigger misunderstandings to comedic effect, or simply lives by the ignorance is bliss mantra.

Then there are deliberate white lies which often explode in the characters’ faces once they are revealed. These are omissions, exaggerations, understatements designed…

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Larry Kotkin says:

    I can’t help it. I have to comment on two things. First, people also lie to protect others important to them from their own actions and feelings. Second, not every psychologist believes in the conscious/unconscious thing, but you can’t really beat the psychodynamic people for describing people. There’s a plot line there.

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