CONFLICT THESAURUS

GETTING CAUGHT IN A LIE



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HELPFUL TIP:

Conflict is your story’s secret sauce, supplying tension, friction, and complications to a character’s journey. It comes in a million different forms, so identify the obstacles and problems that will hit your character the hardest by using the Character Builder to uncover their primary insecurities, fears, and desires. Don’t forget to include everyday conflict scenarios that will frustrate them and keep the pressure high.
CATEGORY:
Power struggles, failures and mistakes, relationship friction, moral dilemmas and temptation, losing an advantage, loss of control, ego-related conflict

NOTES:
Though most people believe lying is wrong and strive to avoid it, no one is 100% honest all the time. Here are a few scenarios where a character might be tempted to lie:

EXAMPLES:
To save someone's feelings
To protect someone
To keep from getting into trouble
To hide their true opinions or feelings
To get what they want
To tell someone what they want to hear
To project or maintain a certain image
To impress others
To keep the peace
To sabotage, manipulate, or control others
Because they're a pathological liar
Because they don't believe that lying is wrong
Even when a character's motivations are good, there are consequences when others discover that they've been lied to.

MINOR COMPLICATIONS:
The other person questioning the character's honesty in the future
The other person being reluctant to broach certain topics with the character
Relationship friction
People dismissing the character's ideas or words because they never know when they're lying

POTENTIALLY DISASTROUS RESULTS:
The character's reputation being damaged
Important people in the character's life outside of the event (a spouse, children, friends) questioning the character's honesty
Being called out publicly
Being fired or demoted (if the lie reflects badly on the character's employer)
Important relationships being seriously damaged
Losing friends
People losing faith in someone or something important (if the character was an influential person)
The character losing their influence or platform
An entire company or organization suffering (and the people associated with it) because of one person's lie
A hurtful stereotype or bias being reinforced
Conflict arising from the character digging in their heels and refusing to admit to the lie
Trying to save face or reverse the narrative (by telling more lies, discrediting the accuser, etc.)
Lashing out in anger instead of taking responsibility

RESULTING EMOTIONS:

POSSIBLE INTERNAL STRUGGLES:
Struggling with insecurity, guilt, shame, or self-loathing
The character believing that the lie was justified
Misremembering or being blind to the facts, believing that the lie was the truth
The character doubting him or herself

PEOPLE WHO COULD BE NEGATIVELY AFFECTED:
The person who was lied to, anyone impacted by the lie being revealed (employees, co-workers, certain people groups, etc.), people who looked to the character as a mentor or inspiring figure and now feel let down

NEGATIVE TRAITS THAT COULD MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE:

IMPACT ON BASIC NEEDS:
Self-Actualization: Even if the character is remorseful and makes positive changes, trust has been broken. If their lie results in limitations professionally, they may become dissatisfied with their lot in life.
Esteem and Recognition: Shame and guilt can have a devastating impact on the psyche. If the character's esteem plummets as a result of his misstep, he may experience unwanted personality changes, such as struggling with insecurity or becoming an underachiever. Similarly, if he loses the respect of his peers, he might not be able to achieve his goals.
Love and Belonging: If the lie isn't the first one, it could be the final straw that ends a friendship or romantic relationship.
Safety and Security: Many unfortunate results can come about when someone is caught lying, such as them being fired or being disowned by caregivers. If the consequences result in lost revenue, this need may become jeopardized.

WOUNDS THIS COULD LEAD TO:

POSITIVE TRAITS TO HELP THE CHARACTER COPE:

POSITIVE OUTCOMES:
Recognizing the importance of always telling the truth
Realizing that a person's character can be destroyed with a simple word, and vowing to protect that
Eventually becoming grateful for being called out because it led to important revelation and growth
The incident inspiring a moral status check, resulting in growth and change