“In my first draft back in August, it seemed like she was sober, but when I went back to edit it this morning, I realized she was lying.” Writing/editing the Sammohini Arc of “The Story” has been going well in part for nuances like this. People lie, you’ve probably lied whether through convenience or contrivance, and characters do, too. Narratively, it’s complicated, and I want John and Trishna to be truthful, so will they lie?
Spoilers?: Minor (exploring character motivations)
I want them to be wholesome characters.
Can good-hearted characters have moments where they must cover up some terrible truth? Are G-rated characters false just for existing? Don’t good guys in videogames beat up bad guys? Isn’t it true that my existence in this place right now means someone else couldn’t have this spot? Are we defined by these terrible tribulations and lies left lingering?
Or is it a matter of degree?
I think the intention for John and Trishna is that they will tell their truths as much as they can. They probably both intuitively know that mistaken misunderstandings, stressed shortcuts, and other minor misdirections should be minimal or corrected when possible. This is true for most of us. Operate with over a 98% buffer of truth, even if it puts us at a disadvantage.
How about those 2% characters?
Karina is one. I imagine that she doesn’t take her job, responsibilities, or life seriously. I made no commentary within the short stories, footnotes, or elsewhere about whether her motivations were sadness, addiction, or anything else. Just that she was drunk at work twice and figured she’d get away with it. Maybe she’ll appear again?
I’ve met many liars and cheaters.
Some are good and decent people outside of the offenses they committed. I have done terrible things to inconvenience good people. I carry these misdeeds with me as scars, while continuing to attempt to live a better life, perhaps in atonement, or more likely due to an increased sense of morality and empathy.
Karina isn’t that worse than John or Trishna.
She may have a harder time gaining the trust of others if her behavior consists of betraying the trust and goodwill of others. She might fall into hard times. But that doesn’t mean she’s never done good things for others. It just means she will need to work harder to find her redemption among family, friends, and friendly colleagues.
This is all about learning about people.
The more people I meet, the more liars and truthful people I encounter, with motivations ranging from greed and pride to empathy and mutual co-development. The difference is finding that acceptable level of tolerance where you might deal with a liar because you’re either stuck working with them for the betterment of your career or because the lie wasn’t something concerning for you. Because, honestly, I told a lie to get the time off the morning that enabled me to write this essay.
John and Trishna might do similar… victimless, innocent little lies…
|Quotes:  I used to be very shy about telling people about myself and my activities. Now, I don’t do it to a cringy degree, but I’ll have fun with it. I had in-depth conversations with one person about my rowing machine who had never rowed before but was interested in the mechanics. Here, I was telling another person about why I like writing: I’m surprised myself.|
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: Dealing with someone’s bigger lie.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Picture: Generic picture to save time.|
|Written On: September 12th [30 minutes]|
|Last Edited: October 15th [tightening up wording]|