Today's Writing Exercise

Several months ago, my friend Trish recommended a writing exercise wherein you catalogue the lies your characters believe. I recently had the chance to try with my characters from Leaves. (A script in desperate need of fixing. I love it so much I avoid it. That's healthy, right?)

Results are below, and they give away a pretty big plot point.

Check the mood board for Leaves
or listen to the Playlist.


The lie Ally believed is that we carry our guilt forever. This is in addition to the fact that everything she carried was heavy. Heavier than it should’ve been. Her gravity was strong. She hauled every heart she broke by accident. Every rejection. Every mistake. Her lie made her self-involved. Self-centered and self-loathing. Self, self, self. Every morning when she looked in the mirror, she saw hate staring back. Flaws. Ugliness. In 2016, she was circling the drain. Living without air. And she was close to giving up in the most final way a human can.     


Nobody needed to lie to Heck. Nobody got close enough to have the opportunity. He didn’t need their whole truth, just some. Partial bits would do. Anything was usable. A little was enough to make people believe whatever he needed them to in order to get what he wanted. Heck was superior. Tall and handsome, he lived above the crowd in every way. Or so he thought in 1955.


Burt believed he would never belong anywhere. Ever. His guilt was almost as sharp-toothed as Ally’s. A white family adopted him when he was seven. They lived in a white town. They went to a white church. He was treated like a novelty. Something to look at, but too unfamiliar, too dangerous, to touch. And he believed other people’s perceptions of him. This left him fragmented, for who can track a white town’s perception of a black boy in 1993?


Renata could spot a lie from a mile away. She could stick a knife in one before it ever got close enough to hurt her. She stayed safe, and in doing so, lived her life utterly alone. She never fell for a barfly’s pickup line or a predator’s manipulation. She specialized in rolling her eyes and walking away. But safe isn’t fine. And it certainly isn’t happy. For Renata, "safe" was a mousetrap ready to spring and she didn’t even know she was sitting at the dead center.