Causes: Being embedded in an environment where distrust, crime, violence or abuse is common; parental role modeling where trickery/lying is the norm; being in a position of power where looking the other way results in reward; feeling mistrust of others and reacting in kind; a lack of empathy; fear of what truth will bring
Characters in Literature: The Great Gatsby; Rita Skeeter (Harry Potter) Pinocchio, Pirate Characters (ie Jack Sparrow; Captain Hook)
Positives: There is a certain reliability with someone who is dishonest in the sense that you can count on them to always act untrustworthy unless truth directly benefits them. Dishonest people can often 'be bought' and will remain loyal as long as there is a mutual benefit. The dishonest can often be swayed to do things that honest people would not, so if the price is right, a person who embraces dishonesty might do the dirty work for you.You know where you stand with someone who is dishonest and can keep secrets close to the vest without temptation.
Negatives: The dishonest tend to not have close friends or meaningful relationships--their inability to trust others will always create a closeness barrier. People with this trait are afraid of being hurt and often have a negative look on life and those they share it with. Dishonest people find it difficult, if not impossible, to put trust in others. The Dishonest also may become scapegoats just because of the mistrust people feel and if they are directly involved in a situation with conflicting viewpoints, the person known for dishonesty will always be devalued against anyone else.
Common Portrayals: Pirates, Gamblers, Swindlers, Politicians, 'the bad kid', the co-worker who lies and uses ill-gotten information on others to climb the corporate ladder, Bank Robbers, Pedophiles, Drug addicts, cheating spouses
Cliches to Avoid: con-artist twenty-somethings running a scam on elderly/grandparents for money; the cop on the take; 'the sullen bad boy' teen; dishonest big corporations; the rich cheating husband; a falling for a rogue and then being shocked at eventual dishonesty/betrayal, used car salesman
Twists on the Traditional Dishonest:
- Why do dishonest sorts always need to be rich jerks, seedy street folk or people who are bad to the bone? Try a dishonest nun! Let's see a funeral director lie to a grieving family. Better yet, how about a doll-haired, cookie-baking granny who can lie through her teeth!
- I would love to see a genuine dishonest-to-honest transformation that came about because of an internal epiphany, not through the love/guidance of someone else. Show us people can change, but they don't need other people to 'show them how'.
- Create a scenario where dishonesty is the best course and will cause the least amount of hurt to others, and the stubborn, dishonest character chooses to be honest in order to go against 'what other people deem as right'.
Conflicting Characteristics to make the Dishonest unique or more interesting: Moralistic, Compulsive, Perfectionism, Friendly, Affectionate, Courageous, Nervous, Optimistic