Character Talents & Skills: Telling Lies

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

liar liar movie

Description: being able to convince others that one is trustworthy and knowledgeable even when one does not have facts, evidence or intimate details of the situation is a well-honed skill. Like having a silver tongue, being able to articulate one’s viewpoint is incredibly important. However, a liar will purposefully skew facts or tell falsehoods in order to further one’s own agenda.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: having control over one’s emotions, being very aware of body language and what it conveys, always thinking before acting, having an innocent or trustworthy expression, being able to mask certain “tells” that go along with lying (fidgeting, changing the topic, rushed speech, deflecting and denial, etc.)

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: Manipulative, Observant, Evasive, Charming, Controlled, Confident, Rational, Courteous, Crafty, Persuasive, Intelligent, Quick-Witted

Required Resources and Training: To become an adept liar, a person must learn how to exude confidence, keep a calm demeanor, and speak in a way that appeals to the target’s emotional sensitivities. Observing others to understand body language and how to read their emotions is necessary as most communication is non-verbal. Through watchfulness and asking careful questions, a liar can become adept at determining a mark’s emotional state, allowing him to manipulate the person better. Because lies often contain a bit of truth, understanding the basics of a situation and the people involved is a must to be able to manipulate information and tell convincing lie.

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:

  • That all politicians are liars
  • Criminals will lie to anyone about anything
  • Telling a white lie to save someone from hurt is acceptable
  • Parents tell small lies to children to avoid having to explain things they don’t want to or to avoid debates

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • Talking one’s way out of a tight spot (feigning ignorance or lying to diffuse a volatile situation)
  • To win a much-needed reprieve (being able to hand in an assignment late)
  • To gain an advantage (to have more time to prepare, to study, or to gather facts)
  • To take advantage of an opportunity (calling in sick so one can hang out with a visiting friend)
Resources for Further Information:

Resources for Further Information:

Spotlight on Subtext: When Characters Are Liars

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

 

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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8 Responses to Character Talents & Skills: Telling Lies

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  3. :Donna Marie says:

    Excellent post—duh, of course! lol

    Lying, in my opinion, can be one of the most hurtful, devastating, damaging trait a person can possess, so this is a biggie for me as far as the power it can wield in storytelling. Of course, when it’s done for good reason (like a spy or something), then it’s more like acting. Very powerful!

  4. I can see where this type of character would come in handy.

  5. You come up with the best stuff! Thanks. I will definitely be using this.

  6. Julie Musil says:

    Ooh, this would make such a great character! Totally unreliable narrator because readers wouldn’t know what was truth or fiction. Great summary!

  7. Helpful post, Thanks!

  8. Mark Dark says:

    Good article. Thanks for this.

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