The Lie Your Character Believes

Emotional Motivation Behind the Character's Lie


1. What is their greatest need & what would they do if they can't get it?
2. What is their greatest fear & what will they do to keep it from happening?
3. The childhood or early adolescent incident (s) that traumatized them so badly, dealt them such a devastating blow they now need this emotional armor for protection from their deepest fears. The betrayal/wound most often comes from family, friends, someone the character loved and trusted, perhaps a parent or caregiver making trust an issue for the character. Betrayal, injustice, isolation, abandonment and rejection are all options for the false belief or the lie the character believes throughout her life. She's vowed to never again be vulnerable. This becomes her false self she presents to the world to avoid feeling terrified and exposed. 


Examples of Wounds that Cause False Lies:
1. Being Sexually Assaulted
2. Being raised in the shadow of a sibling who excelled academically, at sports, musically or with some other talent
3. Being raised by parents who favored one sibling over another
4. Just being insecure or loathing, or not liking yourself for several small reasons that added up other time
5. Raised by alcoholic or drug addicted parents or parents who were verbally or physically abusive to you or each other
6. A shameful secret being exposed
7. One’s reputation damaged in high school — a sex scandal in a small town and you were never able to escape your reputation. 
8. Being falsely accused of something terrible
9. An office romance becoming public in a very humiliating way
10. A romance with a married partner that ended badly or was exposed.
11. An abortion 
12. An out of wedlock pregnancy/birth
13. Child placed for adoption
14. Naked or semi nude photos passed around or posted on the Internet
15. A sibling, other family member or close friend betrayed you — spilled a long held secret
16. Infidelity
17. An arrest and/or conviction  
18. Friend or enemy started a viscous rumor that won’t go away
19. Discovering your child has been the victim of abuse
20. Being fired from your job
21. Lewd act or prostitution


So for example you take the girl whose parents never told her they loved her. She thinks she is unlovable. That’s her lie. If her own parents can’t love her, she’s unworthy of love.  For her character arc, she will have to find a way to let go of that and move past her fear of abandonment and rejection. This is a very simplified answer. More on this topic in another post.

Let me borrow another example from Angela & Becca’s  book. 

Example: A lawyer wants to successfully argue & win his court case (to distinguish himself = inner motivation) as opposed to his usual plea bargain and live up to his dead father’s reputation as an exceptional trial lawyer. This need for validation stemmed from growing up in the shadow of his wildly successful father (wound). As a result, lawyer doubts himself and his abilities. (Inner conflict) — He’s afraid he will always be second best.

You really should purchase Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi's  Positive Character Traits & Negative Character Traits series for a thorough and in depth look inside character traits which encompasses the false lie, the wound, fatal flaws,  which create fabulous contradictions. If you don’t already have these books in your library — what are you waiting for?


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