SO WHAT IS LYING, REALLY? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #12

This week’s provocative question deals with exaggerations, embellishments, and lies.

“How do you feel about people who always seem to exaggerate when relating a story? Do you equate embellishment with lying? As a blogger, when, if ever, is stretching the truth, other than when writing fiction, permissible?”

I think this is a question that has no bearing on writers because you are trying to draw a sharp line between “hard data” and “fiction.”

There is no such line. A myth is a story stretched out and exaggerated. Unless you are writing instruction — like a manual or the results of a scientific study — there’s no line nor ought there be one. Many “fictional books” are essentially true, but to make the story more readable, timelines are compressed and multiple characters are combined into one character.

Fact or fiction? Or maybe fictionalized fact or fact-based fiction?

That’s not lying.

That’s writing. That’s telling a story. That’s creativity. That’s what we are all about. It’s what we do. That’s why there’s no clear line between a “docu-drama” and “realistic fiction.” Why story-telling is an art and not a science.

I’ve written manuals and scientific studies. I did it for money. Those documents are fact-based and of necessity must be, but everything else is a story.

Blogging is what I do for fun. You are welcome to call it whatever you want, as long as I get to write in whatever form I choose. Once you start to define creativity, you effectively make it NOT fun anymore.

By the way … If you have a friend who exaggerates stories in which you were involved? You are welcome to interrupt him or her and add your piece of the adventure. Nobody ever said you have to sit passively by and just listen.

We have a president who lies. He says things are true that are not true and these things are supposedly based on facts. THAT is lying.  But then again, I’m not the one standing in front of the American people promising to make it great again because I don’t know when it stopped being great.

10 thoughts on “SO WHAT IS LYING, REALLY? – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Lying is a kind of “low level creativity.” It is, however, spontaneous, and under certain conditions, may save your life or your hide. If accessed to often, it can then spoil an otherwise good reputation. I the case of our present “Liar-in-Chief,” there was no “good rep” to start with.


  2. You’re right that document-dramas and realistic fiction are related stories of real events, but which have been fictionalized to add drama and interest. And that’s not lying, it’s storytelling. But what about biographies and autobiographies? Is it appropriate for the writer of such non-fiction books to exaggerate and/or embellish the accomplishments or foibles of the person about whom the book has been written? Or is that telling lies about that person? As to Trump, he is one big exaggeration, embellishment, and lie.


    • That’s such a gray line. I get your point … but in writing, exaggeration isn’t lying. It’s just … making the story more interesting. We all do it when we tell stories. It’s part of the art of telling stories. If we just recited “the facts” we’d sound like a witness at a trial. It would be boring (unless it was a really interesting crime — which is another story!) …

      I suppose it depends on context. SHOULD it be true? Is it information? Is it supposedly based on facts? Are there statistics — real statistics — as opposed to opinions? When Trump lies, he is saying things that are counter to known facts. When I stretch a storyline, there ARE no facts. It’s just a story. If someone else was there, they are welcome to jump in and add their 50 cents to the story too.

      I know the difference, but I can also see where not everyone is clear on the difference between something that needs to be backed by facts and something which is meant to entertain.

      Biographies are so rarely factual … and autobiographies are usually worse. I’m pretty sure no one believes them. I hope not!

      Liked by 1 person

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