In Paul Ekman's book, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage, he provides several studies that support the claim that the more detail a story has, the more likely someone is going to believe it. Why? Because details are not easy to make up on the spur of the moment WHILE maintaining your baseline behavior. Usually, if you have to worry about making up details, you'll forget to maintain your baseline behavior and you'll start to leak (stumble, fidget, smile, etc.). So we're all usually suspicious of stories light on details. And because we're all used to hearing lies without details, it's one of the prime clues we use to figure out if someone's telling the truth or not. So what's the answer? Say it with us: use details!

We understand the counter-argument: if you don't give details, then you're committing yourself to less concrete information and you won't get caught in your lie. Ah, but imagine the following scenario: you ask your boyfriend where he's been for the past four hours. Which answer do you believe?

    A. Out. With friends.

    B. I went with Bill and Bob to see the 7:00 show of Austin Powers 3: Dr. Mojo.

The instinctive answer is to believe choice B. It's less evasive. So if you want to be a good liar, you should use details to make your story credible. Especially throwaway details that aren't necessarily relevant. Think of the way you tell a normal story. You weave little details in that don't necessarily relate, but are interesting. In the same vein, a good lie will use details, some necessary and some not, to make the story appear natural and complete.

Of course, to avoid getting caught in your detailed lie, you must be mindful of four things. First, your details must be rehearsed and memorized ahead of time (see 2. Practice). Second, you must keep your details in your active memory for a reasonable period after the lie. (Thus, telling your girlfriend the next day, "I cannot wait to see Austin Powers 3. I heard that it was hilarious!" = Very bad.) Third, you should include many unverifiable details ("I was pissed because the popcorn at the theater was stale"). Finally, insofar as the details you provided are falsifiable, you must make sure the people who could expose you (i.e., Bill and Bob) are aware of the lie and will back you up. Hey, we never said this lying thing was effortless.