I am paying more attention to deceit and betrayal as I write my story or short stories. I can’t “villainize” a bad person character because their motives are so much deeper. There’s always a back story. I mean, there are uncomplicated one-dimensional characters. But others are too complex. As I delve into these characteristics of deceit and betrayal or loyalty and honesty, I thought about them as a whole—meaning both in the fiction world and our world. Before I go on, I listed a couple of words and their definitions from Dictionary.com. I keep these meanings in mind as I analyzed them.
- faithful to one’s oath, commitments, or obligations: to be loyal to a vow.
- faithful to any leader, party, or cause, or to any person or thing conceived as deserving fidelity: a loyal friend.
- honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair: an honest person.
- gained or obtained fairly: honest wealth.
- the act or practice of deceiving; concealment or distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; duplicity; fraud; cheating: Once she exposed their deceit, no one ever trusted them again.
- to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to: to betray one’s friends.
One of the things I struggled with a lot as a child was the lack of loyalty and honesty of some people. Every time a friend or family member didn’t show loyalty or honesty nearly broke me because I never understood why people broke promises.
Now as an adult, I know that sometimes it’s difficult to be honest because you don’t wish to hurt someone’s feelings. Life gets in the way of promises. Loyalty, at times, the person can find themselves stuck between two people or two choices where they have to let one person or thing down. However, this is where honesty comes into place—even if it hurts. Having honesty and loyalty in any relationship is important. When those are broken, betrayal and distrust take their seats.
You can’t expect the relationship to be the same after it cracks. I do believe in mending and forgiving, but it takes time. It won’t be better from one day to another. Lying, omitting information, or hiding things is usually not a good idea because it’s hurtful—or it damages a person’s pride, such as “how stupid do you think I am?” When you’re writing fiction or anything for that matter, the storyline gets intriguing during deceit and betrayal. Who’s fault is it? Why? When? How? Do we even have a solid answer?
I believe I’ve written about this before. When I was a child, my father told me, “Ana, always side with what’s right, even against your mother or me or your sister.” At a very young age, I was a little fighter telling people, “smoking is bad, Aunt,” “You’re wasting water. You’re going to end our planet,” and “You shouldn’t lie.”
In one occasion, I was eating cereal at the table while my dad chatted away with his friend. In our culture, it’s considered ill-mannered to lift the bowl off the table. I lifted the bowl of cereal to drink the very last drop of milk, and my dad said, “honey, no, don’t do that.” I replied, “but you do it all the time.” He chuckled nervously, “no, I don’t. Don’t do that.”
Eventually, I realized that you can’t be that blunt because, well, people won’t like you. But children take things literally. And children don’t have that discernment like adults as to when to say an opinion aloud or keep it to yourself. For example, when you’re not too close to a person, and they have a little green friend up their nose, should you say something and embarrass them or let them walk around with it all day long?—or at least until they realize it The dilemma!
The answer to why adults can’t always embrace honesty and loyalty cannot simply be “nobody is perfect.” While yes, on the one hand, that is true. On the other hand, deliberate betrayal (especially if it’s ongoing) and sneaky acts are no longer just mistakes. It’s a choice.
As I write my characters, I realized that in some, it’s part of their nature to be deceitful, disloyal, and dishonest. They’re unscrupulous and don’t care. In others, it’s a regrettable mistake—on their way fixing the act or accepting that it’s no longer fixable.
What words do you keep in mind as you write your characters?
©Ana P. Rose & Anaprose 2017.