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Tuesday, January 29, 2008



Great Fiction Writers are Great Liars

“Fiction is lies. There is the Great Lie, the simple fact that the story is a story and not reportage. Fiction writers, therefore are liars—and they have to be good ones.”
~ George Scithers & Darrel Schweitzer

In celebration of The Liar’s Diary Blog Day, we've decided to take a twist on the subject, and honor all great fiction writers as “liars.” Strange, I know. But, when you think about it, what do we as fiction writers do? We take in our surroundings, alchemize them, and then distill our distorted prose onto the page. Is this wrong? No. Without exaggeration of character and plot, our stories would become a tedious read. Who wants to read straight facts? And what are straight facts anyway?

Our impressions of what we see are our filters. Our perceptions, senses, and emotions create our own unique realities that make our “real” stories fiction. Even in the truest form of journalistic reporting, we are still susceptible to passing judgment.

I always thought it was funny when my hubby would tell me that he only reads “true stories,” which include conspiracy theories, urban legends and such. “How can you consider those true? What is truth? And what does it matter anyway if the story is true?” I’d say. He’d go into long diatribes of what he considered facts, but my response would always be the same: you believe what you want to believe.

As fiction writers there are many techniques of lying we can use to flesh out our characters and distance them from ourselves. One is viewpoint. We can choose to limit the viewpoint to one character, or several. We can choose omniscient and tell the story from a godlike perspective. We can use third person and jump from one person’s thoughts to the next. We can use second person and talk to someone like we were writing a letter.

Another technique is exaggerating, or emphasizing, certain characteristics of those around us. By picking out the most interesting traits of someone we know in real life and amplifying them, we create a dynamic character that will capture our readers.

Of course, there are more subtle ways of altering the truth—name changing, physical descriptions, jobs, hobbies, etc. But even these things you need to be careful with. You never know which friend in your distant past will pop up wielding a subpoena.

I was talking to an author the other day that told me she takes events in her life, funny situations, and incorporates those moments into her characters. Like sprinkling a mixture of special seasonings on a casserole. This seems to be a very good way of “lying.” By taking bits of truth and making them your own, you are creating a fictional world with multidimensional characters that will still ring true on the page.

Remember: you are leading the reader. Your reality is their reality, without them realizing it. If you’re a good writer, they buy into your lie and are swayed by your words. This makes for compelling fiction! So, next time when you think about the word “liar,” just remember that when it comes to fiction writing, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.


What is The Liar’s Diary Blog Day?

Today, January 29th, over 300 bloggers, including bestsellers, Emmy winners, movie makers, and publishing houses have come together to talk about THE LIAR'S DIARY by Patry Francis.

Why? To give the book the attention it deserves on its release day while Patry takes the time she needs to heal from cancer.

First, you need to know something about Patry Francis.

From Susan Henderson of LitPark:

What if you worked for years as a waitress and then went home at the end of the day to your husband and four kids, and in those rare minutes of free time, you dared to dream that one day you might write a book? This is the story of my friend, Patry - a story that leaves out years of false starts, revisions, and rejection slips. It's a story that writers know intimately, though the details are different. Every one of us is well acquainted with the struggle of getting a story on paper, of honing it and believing in it enough to send it out, only to receive rejection, or worse, silence for our efforts.

Imagine, after many years, you beat the odds. You finish that book. You find that agent who sells your manuscript. Your dream is about to become a reality. But just as your book is due to be released, you discover you have an aggressive form of cancer.

Patry's story struck such a deep chord with many of us, not just because she is our friend, but because those of us who know her or read her blog have relied on her company through the ups and mostly downs of trying to write and sell a book. She is our buoy. She has shown us time and again her great gift for shedding light in the dark. Even her blog post about her cancer showed this - in her greatest time of need, she was still somehow comforting all of us and showing us glimpses of joy.


Answering the question of what is more powerful—family or friendship? this debut novel unforgettably shows how far one woman would go to protect either.

They couldn’t be more different, but they form a friendship that will alter both their fates. When Ali Mather blows into town, breaking all the rules and breaking hearts (despite the fact that she is pushing forty), she also makes a mark on an unlikely family. Almost against her will, Jeanne Cross feels drawn to this strangely vibrant woman, a fascination that begins to infect Jeanne’s “perfect” husband as well as their teenaged son.

At the heart of the friendship between Ali and Jeanne are deep-seated emotional needs, vulnerabilities they have each been recording in their diaries. Ali also senses another kind of vulnerability; she believes someone has been entering her house when she is not at home—and not with the usual intentions. What this burglar wants is nothing less than a piece of Ali’s soul.

When a murderer strikes and Jeanne’s son is arrested, we learn that the key to the crime lies in the diaries of two very different women...but only one of them is telling the truth. A chilling tour of troubled minds, The Liar’s Diary signals the launch of an immensely talented new novelist who knows just how to keep her readers guessing.

And now, here are Patry's words: "Though my novel deals with murder, betrayal, and the even more lethal crimes of the heart, the real subjects of THE LIAR'S DIARY are music, love, friendship, self-sacrifice and courage. The darkness is only there for contrast; it's only there to make us realize how bright the light can be. I'm sure that most writers whose work does not flinch from the exploration of evil feel the same."

Find out more about Patry Francis by visiting her websites:


We want to thank Susan Henderson of LitPark and Karen Dionne of Backspace for organizing this wonderful blog event. Also, we wish Patry Francis a big, heartfelt cyberhug, and send our blessings for a swift recovery.

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