Happy October! As we enter the month of October, here in New England, we welcome cooler days and crisp-cold nights, pumpkins and gourds, agricultural fairs, and my favorite: apple cider donuts. I adore fall. (If it weren’t so close to winter, it would be my favorite season!) Fall also brings more writing time for this busy parent, and I’m excited to jump back into a few projects that have been languishing. The story in progress? All about deception. How apropos!
Is deception just a nice word for lie? Deception sounds more sophisticated, more educated, more acceptable than “lie” somehow. On the Cambridge Dictionary site, I found a statement to the effect that the word deception does not inherently suggest blame. For instance, a magician practices deception for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Another source explained that deception is “the act of hiding the truth, especially to get an advantage.” So, not being untruthful, exactly, but perhaps hiding the truth.
Deception is certainly a key aspect of the mystery genre. Without deception, our stories would be rather flat and predictable. The trick, of course, is to deceive while treating readers fairly, too. Weaving deception throughout the story, with both dexterity and purpose, is the goal.
With a bit more research, I found this statement: “Deception itself is intentionally managing verbal and/or nonverbal messages so that the message receiver will believe in a way that the message sender knows is false.” (Thank you, wikipedia.com.)
Juicy, right? And somehow, I immediately began thinking about Agatha Christie. Her stories were delightful in their use of nuance and deception. Ten Little Indians. Murder on the Orient Express. P.D. James once said of Christie, “Her prime skill as a storyteller is the talent to deceive…she seduces us into deceiving ourselves.”
Now tell me–what author do you think is the master/mistress of deception? Do you have a favorite example?