11.18.2014

Tips for Writing The Big Lie



Oh no! It can't be true.

No, it's not. But it's our job as authors to convince you of it.

The Big Lie is the part in a story which isn't real. Usually in speculative fiction, it's the focus of the story. This could be the magic your urban fantasy wizard is using or the gorgeous vampires that rule the world in your paranormal romance. Whether this untruth be subtle or glaringly obvious, the readers must be made to believe it.

So how to sell your Big Lie? Here are five tips to help you make it believable:

1) Establish rules for your world and don't stray from them. If there's magic in your world, make certain every character is subject to the same precepts. One violation and your Big Lie will crumble.

2) Weave the Big Lie in with familiar truths. Have your spaceship pilot brew coffee for himself and his alien navigator before attempting to fix the warp drive.

3) Whether the characters believe there are monsters in the closets or not, you must make the reader believe. Give the characters logical reactions and emotions. If the readers can connect to one or more of the characters, you will convince them of the Big Lie.

4) You don't have to lay bare all the mysteries of the Big Lie. What you do reveal must be consistent with the rules, though.

5) Be certain the ending doesn't ruin all the work you did to sell the Big Lie. Please, please don't be so ridiculous that it obliterates everything. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see. No dreams, journeys directed by the gods, or forced happy endings.

What is your favorite Big Lie in fiction?

30 comments:

  1. Hi Christine .. I imagine keeping all the threads believable as well as weaving in a few red herrings, and perhaps a big white shark ... could let things get out of control ... I'm sure I'd flounder ... good ideas here .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh I believe in monsters in the closet right away. Great tips!

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are great tips. I'm trying my best to implement them, but inconsistencies have a tendency to appear in my stories. Thank you for sharing the great info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. That's what revising is for and keen eyed critique partners! :)

      Delete
  4. Fabulous tips. Consistency is the hardest thing to get right, which is why I always create a book or series bible to refer to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great idea, Ellie. I'm not a fantastic note-taker myself, but I try. At least in the revision stage!

      Delete
  5. Wow, you spec fic writers sound like you're having way too much fun!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Making sure readers believe the Big Lie is extremely important! I like your #2. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's the little boring details that are sometimes important.

      Delete
  7. Ugh, on the 'it was all a dream' ending. Then why did I bother reading? GRRM sort of killed his lie by killing so many characters. Although, I will read #6 to find out what happens to Arya. I create huge lies in my books. Chocolate rules the universe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arya is one of my favorites too. Yay for chocolate! :)

      Delete
  8. Excellent tips for all fiction really. I watched a movie the other night and they brought this creature to the story- he was noted to capture evil. Then he never made another appearance. That tiny flaw took the movie from a five star to a three. He was supposed to catch the evil- or at least help. Not exactly what you're talking about, maybe more of a Checkov's gun, but still- it was highlighted as a rule and then never brought full circle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. :) Oh yeah, I hate when books/films do that. You bring in a helpful tool, you use it!

      Delete
  9. Great tips! Although Apenth says he can't help directing the journey. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think Apenth doesn't know everything and has stakes in it too. I'd love a peek at what your gods are doing up there!

      Delete
  10. Oh yes. And willing suspension of disbelief is making the reader/viewer jump off that cliff themselves. If they have to be dragged (screaming) to the edge they generally make it back. And throw metaphoric rocks at the work in question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehehe! Yes, they do! I've done it myself. :)

      Delete
  11. Awesome tips, Christine. I think it's especially important to never break the rules in the worlds we create as well as making our characters as believable as possible. The more our readers relate to our stories, the more inclined they are to fall in love with our writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Gina. So true. Sometimes it's tough to remember the rules when a rough day sets in, though!

      Delete
  12. Great tips.
    World building and taying true to the canon is apparently a theme today. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another suggestion to help your readers believe. Whenever you need to add something rather fantastical to your world and you're afraid the readers might not buy it, just have one of the characters question it themselves once. That always seems to add an air of legitimacy to the Big Lie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great tip, Ken. My protagonists are usually big on the questioning!

      Delete
  14. You give great tips and , when i think of Harry Potter, it has a mix of the real and not real and we all want to go there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Oh yes. I really want to live in that world. Not as a muggle, though!

      Delete

What's happening in your dimension?