Monday, March 18, 2013

Shedding Light on the Lie

Have you ever thought of your character as a product of a lie?

I am taking an intense self-character study that guides me in discovering lies I've been told about myself or told myself, throughout my life, and then face the lie, mourn it, and replace it with God's truth. Each step along the way, I can't help but consider how rich the material is for not only myself, but for future character development in my stories. It is as if I am on my own character arc, and trying to develop it more by tracing it backwards to the beginning.

Through this study, I was introduced to the movie, The Kid, starring Bruce Willis. If you've ever watched the movie, you'll know what I am talking about. Forty year old Bruce is visited by his eight year old self, and through the movie he has to discover what lie he was told that has made him the miserable person he is today.

He doesn't know the lie.

He doesn't know that he was ever lied to.

But that's what makes it such a journey. We watch him figure out that there is something (the lie) in his past that brought the eight year old to him, and he needs to back track his life, and figure out what must be sorted to live life to the fullest without his eight year old shadow. Without completely giving the movie away (BEWARE partial-spoiler!), the lie was something he was told by his father as an eight year old. A lie, that he didn't realize changed the course of his life for the worse. He let go of dreams and considered himself differently than if he was never told that lie in the first place.

On Fickr by Itspaulkelly
When our characters believe something about themselves that is based on a lie, it is like searching for a light switch in a pitch-black room that they've never been in before. Through their circumstances, they feel around for a wall--that emotion or event that produced the lie--and then explore it with desperate hands up and down, back and forth as they stumble, until they find the switch that will shed light on the lie.

As writers, it is our responsibility to give them circumstances, people, and opportunities to reach that light switch of self-discovery.

Once that lie is discovered, then the character has no choice but to live the lie and miss out on the opportunity to be greater, or to mourn the lie, and replace it with Truth.

Even though we write fiction, we are writing human nature into our pages. And the best part of Christian fiction, in my opinion, is the thread of a spiritual truth being exposed along the characters' journey. Just like most of the Old Testament shows flawed characters finding God's love in spite of themselves, our characters must also grow from a lie, to find the Ultimate Truth that will set them free at the end.

Do you have any examples from novels or movies, of a great illustration of a lie being replaced by truth in a character's life?

Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.


Beth K. Vogt said...

Oh, Angie -- you had me at "The Kid."
It's my all-time favorite movie! L-O-V-E it for so, so many reasons.

And it's a brilliant way to teach the concept of the Lie our characters (and we) believe.

Great post!

Unknown said...

This is exactly what my novel, Eyes Unveiled is about. The main character is full of dreams, but lacks the hope of ever seeing them become real b/c of the lies and insecurities she's allowed to define herself. It takes her traveling down a very broken road--and the help of some pretty obstinate friends & family--to help unveil her eyes to see the truth about her life that has been there all along.

It's amazing how easily we can let lies distort truth. Thank goodness for people in our lives who keep prodding us to find that light switch!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Your study program sounds wonderful, Angie.

I had a similar thing happen during a class at church yesterday and thought OH this is a perfect example of writing. ha ha.

I like to play with 'the moral premise' for my stories and I also include 'What is the lie he/she believes?' It is great to dig that far into our characters' heads. (You'll recognize this if you've ever had Susie May Warren for a workshop teacher).

Have a great week, ladies!

Anonymous said...

Great Post! There is a book by Judy Baer called "Love's Perfect Image." I first read it as a middle school student,but I kept a copy I still have today. So many girls are told their worth is wrapped up in their weight and it often shapes their choices. Powerful story.

Lindsay Harrel said...

Love this post, Ang! I have been considering the lie I believed as a kid that has shaped who I am today. It's truly eye-opening, isn't it? Crazy how it all connects in not only our characters' lives, but our own.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Angie, this resonates with me. I know there are lies I unknowingly embraced as a girl that have sculpted some of who I am today. The Lord reminds me of His truths and is using those to sand away the lies' lines in my life. As I really nail down my characters' lies in my current wip, I'm also challenged to discover the truth that will set them free. How important it is to take the time to do that in my own life, as well.

I watched "The Kid" years ago. Sounds like it's time to watch it again. :) Thanks for sharing this today.

Angie Dicken said...

Hey Ladies! Thanks for your comments! Sorry I am do late in responding, we are on a family vacation! I will give a shout out to Susan May Warren as she was the first person I ever hear speak about the lie! Go MBT!:)
Hope you all have a great week!

Unknown said...

Loved it. My future debut novel is a lot about lies. The main male character has a very flawed self-image and a hard time trusting God to direct his steps. He's also finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that he's an artist, and not just any artist, but a painter (Has art ever been as devalued as today?) and not a graphic designer, as his fears have led him to believe. His journey is partly about finding God in the midst of the worst crisis in his life, the worst loss, and partly about finding his calling.
But I'm spoiling a story that is yet to be written!!!!