So why is using this tool so common?
Simple. All of us miscommunicate on a daily basis.
It's such a strong part of the human condition that you can even find it way back in the Bible and the earliest recorded stories. Basically it comes down to one thing: someone is altering or concealing the truth for any reason. Shy/embarrassed/guilty/lying... none of that matters. It's all one big miscommunication stew-pot and we all brew it.
But for authors, miscommunication has an added bonus: it can create never ending plot twists, ratcheting up tension in your story.
Here's a quick sample of miscommunications
- The character falsifies facts to make them self look better
- Someone hides an embarrassing detail of a youthful indiscretion
- A husband doesn't tell his wife about his new secretary because he knows she'll be jealous
- The boss hears the tail end of a conversation and thinks someone wants his job
- A character convinces themselves their memories are false to protect their world view
- A teenager finds $20 blowing in the wind and buys something causing her parents to be suspicious
- Someone doesn't trust anyone with personal information
So how have you used miscommunication in a story? What are some of your favorite ways you've seen it used? How can you use it in your current work in progress?