How Do White Lies Colour a Plot?

The LoyalistsWife_3D_510x602Sometimes those who love us tell us little white lies. They keep the truth away from our world in a vain hope to protect us. Is that a good idea, do you think?

In The Loyalist’s Wife, John is worried about leaving Lucy alone again on their farm when he rejoins Butler’s Rangers and the war. He wants her to accompany him to Fort Niagara but she is not ready to abandon their farm. Besides traveling with a young baby is a risk she would rather not take.

John and Lucy’s father are discussing this woman both of them love and her oft voiced opinions.

“I’ve been thinking about spring again, William. I just don’t want to leave you and Lucy on the farm alone.

“I understand, John, but Lucinda is a very strong-willed young lady. You’ll have a time convincing her to leave everything behind. Why not do it her way? I promise I’ll get her away at the first sign of trouble. I had enough of that in Boston.”

“It would give Harper John a couple more months to grow and get stronger for the journey. And I know there’ll be a journey, William.”

“What do you mean?

“I didn’t tell Lucy just how badly the war is going for the British. Loyalists are losing everything for their beliefs and are dying every day. I fear for our future here.”

Perhaps John should be more forthright with Lucy but he is not. And in that omission we are given not only a trait in his character (wanting to protect his family) but also a stepping stone to more tension to keep the plot moving along.

His lie of omission has tremendous consequences as the plot progresses but so, also, does Lucy’s pigheadedness. And through those character flaws the plot builds. Do not be afraid to tarnish your characters as perfect people are really not all that interesting.

The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler


Authors: 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Download from the link in the side column!


6 thoughts on “How Do White Lies Colour a Plot?

  1. Lies, even those told with the purest intentions, are bound to be found out (like the time a boyfriend told me that the mouse in my kitchen wouldn’t be able to climb in my bed). Lies build tension, and tension brings the story to life.

    Poor Lucy, she is so unprepared. That can’t be good.


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