telling stories . . . or how to lie effectively

I love living in the south. We have all kinds of gentle euphemisms for ugly truths. My personal favorite is "telling stories." If you've never heard it, it goes something like this: That Teresa! She's something else--always telling stories!

The rough translation is: That Teresa! She's a problem child. Don't believe a word out of her mouth, she's a liar.

I learned a few things when I was "telling stories," and I'd like to share them with you, because the rules of telling a good lie twine with the rules of good storytelling.

KISS it--Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. The more subplots you add to a lie, the more lies you have to tell to incorporate the subplots into the original lie. Lose track of one thread and the whole lie is shot to hell.

The same is true of your novel. Start with a very, very simple plot, because mark me well, once you start adding secondary characters, they will come with their own subplots. The deeper the layers, the more difficult it is to keep track of the spinning threads.

Details, details, details. A good lie will contain enough detail to make the lie believable, but not so much as to derail the lie. In your story, only tell your reader the important details. If you have a character with blue hair, then give us a reason to know this fact. Give your reader too many insignificant details to remember and they will be lost when they get to the BIG REVEAL that contains the crucial detail they must remember. Streamline, don't clutter.

Lies of ommission. They go like this:

Have you been drinking? [We all know the inference here is whether or not you are intoxicated.]

Um, no. [Which is, in effect, the truth. At no point during the evening did you once drink an alcoholic beverage. However, what you're NOT saying is that you have ingested enough pharmaceuticals to tranquilize a small herd of elephants.]

Careful with these, because they work occassionally, but if you use them too often, the reader [and the parental units] will question your every scene. They will also feel cheated that you, the storyteller, took the easy way out by not giving out information you knew. You'll be accused of using a deus ex machina as your final resolution, which is an insult to most readers, but especially genre readers.

So what about you? When you're telling your stories, what are some techniques that you use to keep the story believable?