So, you have your “perfect” hero and “perfect” heroine’s character sketches and novel outline at your fingertips. What about your “not-so-perfect” villain, aka the bad guy? He’s just the bad guy. Ah, but the villain is a key player in your novel. And, you’d like him to be a compulsive liar. However, you really want to keep the reader guessing. . .
In law enforcement, these actions are called “tells”.
How do you make the “perfect” liar? You need to know the rules before you can break them.
What will your villain have perfected? Why, the art of lying, of course.
Ten Tips your Villain Can Teach you about the art of lying
1. Keep your head up:
“In all shows, there is always that moment when the magician risks being discovered,” explains Jacques H. Paget*, illusionist and negotiations expert. For example, when he makes a ball “disappear” as it remains hidden in his other hand, he may tend to tilt his head to the side, a movement which, however small, may be unconsciously perceived by the viewer as an indicator of cheating. “This is an instinctive gesture that we all do when we are afraid of being caught.”
Conclusion: Your villain knows to keep his/her head straight up. This will prevent the other person from getting suspicious.
2. Use the phone:
Sometimes lying is much simpler over the phone. Deception makes our voices drop a pitch, in order to sound more stable and assured, but lying also exposes us to three negative emotions – fear of getting caught, shame and guilt – and these may just manifest in our voices. Your villain knows this. Your hero/heroine may believe the action was unintentional—the first time.
3. Repeat the scenario:
If you are telling a story, the villain knows he/she first needs to integrate it as a complete theatre role. Being an actress does not mean just to learn words. It is also necessary to be at one with your thoughts and emotions. These are the things that will generally reflect your words. And some techniques can better reflect what it feels like:
– Begin and end sentences clearly.
– Take note of punctuation marks, especially full-stops.
– Sustain consonants that make words ring.
– Speak clearly.
– Work on your expressive diction.
Playing your role with sincerity.
4. Control your actions:
“Our body speaks its own language and never lies,” says Dr. David J. Lieberman, hypnotherapist and a doctor in psychology. If you’re not careful, some little gestures will only end up betraying you.
Embarrassed by your hands, you slip them into your pockets or you lay them on your hips.
You sputter, your smile trembles and cracks as you declare how much you love the gift you received.
You touch your face, you scratch your ear, place a finger on your lips, you rub your eyes or nose to justify your delay in response.
Your face, your hands, your arms punctuate your words belatedly, and in a somewhat mechanical way.
You display a grimace instead of a grin while expressing your joy of learning promoting a colleague.
You pull a folder, a book and computer against your abdomen, as if it were a shield. Without understanding why your partner says there was something wrong with your story…
5. Do not say too much:
You call a friend to postpone a lunch for the third time. Listening to you presenting your perfectly oiled explanations, she begins to find this suspicious, there is just too much justification. To avoid getting caught, you think, better increase the size of your tale: the bigger it gets, the more credible it will seem. Because of its magnitude, it cannot possibly be invented. Your villain knows less is more. . .believable in this case.
6. Put on your sincere face:
Instead of looking your interviewer in the eye, aim for the tip of his nose. It is less destabilizing and you do not have the look diagonally, distant and elusive, whilst you spin your yarn. “Establishing good communication requires eye contact for 60-70% of the time of the dialogue,” says psychoanalyst Joseph Messinger. Also, be wary of your eyebrows wrinkling, your eyes crinkling and your eyelids blinking – they raise doubt.
7. Deviate from the truth:
A good lie always contains an element of truth. “In this case, the truth functions as a decoy.” For example: “I have an appointment with the dermatologist…” is a good primer. Then the embroidery comes in: “… to check my moles,” but you casually omit “…and to complete my Botox sessions.” It’s just a shot you have to take.
8. Do not say I:
Your villain knows to entrench himself/herself behind objective, impersonal, irrefutable facts. “My company recruits only its sales executives with a certain diploma/certificate” … that your friend’s son happens not to possess, of course.
Sharpen a pencil. Hang a picture. Drink coffee. Practicing an activity to pass the time is unquestionably the best camouflage for a lie. Is what any expert in non-verbal communication will tell you. The ideal situation? Lying whilst you are behind some sort of wall or partition, in order to neutralize body language, which is less controllable than words. It is essentially a way of saying that those with mowing the lawn or trimming hedges are at an advantage for if they want to lie.
Little lies? Big lies? Huge lies?
It’s your story.
It’s your chance to create the “perfect” villain.
Here are a few of my fave classic villains in literature:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The White Witch
Key quote: "You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill... And so, that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property."
The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Key quote: "[Moriarty] is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them."
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Key quote: "We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things"
Do you have a favorite villain?
Who was was your 'unexpected' villain is a story?
Shopping Links to Connie's Books: