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Cedric Mayen

Script writer, Editions Delcourt

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Do you have to be a good liar to be a good storyteller?

What is the main difference between a lie and a fictional story? aren't they quite the same thing? Are novel writers basically mass-liars? What are the basics of lying that you can also find in story-telling?
I'm writing a novel based on a character who lies to everyone about his life, a con-artist who decides after a shock to stop lying and starts to write a fictional book because he desperately needs to lie to feel alive, but he's stuck with writer-block syndrom.
If you can help me answering these questions it will help me a lot.
BTW I'm french so, I'm sorry if sometimes my english is bad.


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  • Sep 13 2013: I think if you're looking at it from a very basic point of view, then yes, they could be seen as one and the same. However, to differentiate the two, I think you'd really have to get to the intent. If a person's intent is to deceive, bamboozle, swindle, etc. then lies are not the same as fiction, which is generally for the purpose of expressing creativity and to provide entertainment. Take the case of whatshisname who a couple years ago wrote what was supposed to be his autobiography, which was heralded by Oprah and others only to find out that he'd lied about a few aspects. He was summarily discredited and dismissed, regardless of his overall writing talent. However, had he simply passed it off as fiction to begin with, he might still have been hailed as a good writer (assuming he really was), and would have saved himself and everyone else the embarrassment.

    [Editing to address Colleen's comments.]
    Colleen, I wholeheartedly agree about fairy tales as well. I believe that the princess/prince scenario that's so pervasive in children's literature is why families are so dysfunctional. As you said, there are unrealistic expectations that are never reversed, just like telling kids that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist.

    It's also interesting and just a tad ironic that some of the very same people who tell their kids about these fantastical characters and start reading fairy tales to their kids in utero, later refuse to even have Harry Potter books in their homes because of the idea of witchcraft. Really?

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