I am not clear what you meant about the “lies” part. Do you mean it is okay to change details for the sake of being a better storyteller or to protect yourself or others? I get you aren’t advocating flat out making up things and lying.
Good advice.
Jessica Archuleta
21

Telling a Good Story Isn’t About Lying

But It Is About Bending the Truth a Little Bit

Photo Credit: Alessio Lin via Unsplash

Hey Jessica,

This seems to be a sticking point and a little jarring for some readers, so I want to address it here.

Like you said, I’m not advocating flat out lying to your audience. What I am saying — and what Seth mentions in his book — is that we need to tell our story in a captivating and believable way if we want others to be invested in it, too.

Think about your favourite bestseller. Why did it catch your eye? What about it stood out to you? Was it the flashy cover, the attractive packaging, the tantalizing print of the bio on the back?

Whatever it was, it caught your eye for a reason. It was designed to get your attention.

Like the cheap wine in an expensive glass, it was designed to look more appealing and sensational than it would’ve been in a regular old cover with text written by a bored writer.

In the way that it sensationalizes the truth, that’s where the lie comes in: by bending the truth, we make others open our stories. The key gets in getting them to open the story with good packaging, and then back it up with good content.

Think about a headline: doesn’t reading an article with a clickbait headline make you feel betrayed a little bit? Because it manipulates you into reading something you thought was going to be different than it is.

But what about a well-written article with a sensational headline? That’s different, right?

Having a compelling headline doesn’t mean you have to lie about what’s inside your article. But you do have to make it seem like the article you’re writing has to be something the reader MUST read no matter what. And presenting your article with a boring headline will ensure they probably won’t do just that.

You have to play the game to get the results. Part of that comes from knowing how it’s played so you can go about it in your own authentic way, because playing dirty won’t get many of us very far.

Hope that’s helpful.