Sunday, February 22, 2009

You know what I hate?


It's a very romancey sort of word, "prevaricate." You see it in all kinds of manuscripts. The dictionary definition is this:

–verb (used without object), -cat⋅ed, -cat⋅ing. to speak falsely or misleadingly; deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie.

In books they use "prevaricate" to cover the hero or heroine when they don't want to say that they're lying, or omitting a necessary element or just too balls-ass cowardly to tell the truth. In the real world though? In the real world people who prevaricate are usually just manipulative liars.

They know that the real truth is going to have some sort of negative effect, they know that if they tell the whole story people won't react they way they want them to, so instead they straddle the fence, they look away with their eyes while their mouth trots out some story that will deflect attention away from the original question.

It's a great literary device, this "almost the truth, a quarter of the truth and, anything but the truth." The author gets to make their prevaricator look accommodating, or clever, or show them being uncomfortable. They get to work in a twist or turn, showing a side of the character who has been manipulated (victim) that we might not otherwise get to see. I guess it's better than The Big Misunderstanding, but as a reader, I gotta say, the person who prevaricates is not the person I want it my life. It cheapens the hero or heroine, and if they're using this trick it better be at the beginning of the book when they have lots of time to recover their integrity instead of near they end when we're supposed to be seeing their True Colors.

I say this because, as a human being, I am completely sick and tired of not being told "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. " When I ask a question, I want the answer. That's it - just the answer. Tell me the truth and I'll deal with it. Prevaricate and eventually, I'll deal with you. Do not try to play me. Do not omit necessary facts in hopes that I'll be understanding when they eventually come to light (because they always come to light) just be an adult, speak your truth and deal with the fall out.

There's another option - it's slightly less polite, and, in this world, often more courageous - that option is to look another person in the eye and say, "I'd rather not say." People have the right to
keep their secrets. They have the right to choose who they want to open up to, when they want to open up, and how much they want to open up. It's more than fair to say, "that's personal." It is, in fact, preferred to say, "there's more, but I'm not ready to share that part right now."

To say that is to allow yourself limits, to build a mystery, to show you have boundaries and the other person hasn't earned the right to breach them. But to imply that you have told the truth when what you have really done is build a house of cards is just pathetic.

Currently reading: Tanner's Scheme
Just finished: The Bride With No Name
Just about to start: Looking For Alaska
Just about to start: Rapture In Death

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