Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.
We've talked before on Go Teen Writers about the value of finding a lie for your character to believe. This is a technique both Jill and I use and love for developing rich conflict within our characters, especially our main characters.
But it's not enough to just assign a lie to your main character. You should have the lie crop up in the character's internal monologue a time or two, and it's even better when you can find another character to reinforce the lie your main character believes.
I'm going to use Tangled as an example because many of us have seen it, and because the writers did such a great job with reinforcing the lie.
So our kick-butt heroine, Rapunzel, has pushed past her fears of the plague and men with pointy teeth. She's left her tower, battled away the guilt of betraying her "mother", and tamed a bar full of ruffians who want to skewer her guide.
The lie she believed in the beginning, that she wasn't strong enough to make it in the world outside her tower, is long gone. After overcoming several obstacles, Rapunzel now feels she can take care of whatever the world throws at her.
Cue the need for the lie to be reinforced.
Mother Gothel mocks her for being naive. "Look at you," she says. "You think that he's impressed?" Once again, Gothel sets herself up as the person who knows how the world works and Rapunzel as the one who doesn't. She tells Rapunzel what she knows but has conveniently forgotten - Flynn is in this to get the crown back.
Even though Rapunzel still refuses to leave with Mother Gothel, the lie that Rapunzel believed in the beginning of the story has been reinforced.
This scene does a beautiful job of setting up Rapunzel's doubts when Flynn disappears and Mother Gothel comes to her rescue. It's easy to understand why Rapunzel lapses into believing her mother must know best, and that she is just a gullible, naive girl, who can't last more than 24 hours in the world outside the tower.
Having the lie reinforced by another character will make your main character's victory so much more rewarding.
Writing exercise - make it your own!:
In your book, who does your main character trust? How can that person reinforce the main character's lie at a critical point in the story?
Also, Friday is the last day to sign up to be a part of the third 100 for 100 challenge. I'll be sending an email out to the participants later today, which will include instructions and guidelines and stuff. So far we've had almost 200 writers sign up for the challenge, and we would love for you to join us!