Monday, February 18, 2013


By Mark W. Danielson

In today’s world there is a significant difference between the words honesty and honestly.  Where honestly once meant someone was speaking with honest intentions, in recent years the adverb is often being used as a substitute for Ah, or Hmm, or Well.  Whether this is a result of our society being less honest or the term has degraded into slang is unknown.  However, what is clear is our society has and will continue to change.  Certainly the way we now view honesty is a far stretch from how it was one hundred years ago.

In the early 1900s a man’s word could buy supplies, a horse, and in some cases even get on a loan.  I reference man’s word because during that time the women stayed home to tend to the kids while their men worked their jobs.  But in today’s age of cyber-crime and bank scams, personal trust is a thing of the past as no one is expected to be honest.  In this regard our society has been in steady decline.

Having no intent or interest to further discuss the changes in our society or its generational differences, it is extremely important for writers to grasp society’s changes because they deeply affect your characters and how they interact with each other.  For example, not long ago a child would never think about talking back to their parents or lying about where they’ve been, but today we celebrate disrespect and lying by featuring these people in so-called reality television shows and movies.  But lying protagonists can be as useful in a mystery as a dishonest antagonist, and this means good and evil are not well defined. 

If you are writing in present day, then use our mistrust for one another to add tension and throw curves.  It’s a crazy world, but there is a wealth of opportunity for those willing to look and write outside the box.     


Jean Henry Mead said...

I couldn't agree more, Mark. Add rudenesss to your list of dishonest traits. I can't count the times members of our generation have said,"Oh, honestly," when confronted with the words and actions of younger people who've never heard of Emily Post or Miss Manners.

Mark W. Danielson said...

I definitely see generational differences in my job and at times it is frustrating. However, if you look at it from a writer's standpoint, it's all good character building:)