by Destine Williams
Conflict, conflict, conflict. The C-word.
We shrug from it in real life, and yet we demand it in our fiction or we feel cheated.
And today I’m here to tell you that if you’re writing a scene where two characters are about to go at each other’s throat and you’re getting ready to make them see sense in the same scene…
Let them fight. And here’s why…
Real-life Conflicts Rarely Wrap Up Neatly
Think of it this way… when was the last time you had a bitter argument with someone and the other person just decided, “okay, I’ll see it your way now and forget all my previous beliefs…”
If you’ve seen this happen video tape that jiminy bologna and send that to me because I’ve never seen it.
People mishear each other and miscommunicate all the time when they are in conflict. And because of this, people rarely get to say everything that they mean to say.
Because we’re writers who have all the time in the world to craft the perfect response, it’s tempting to dot all i’s and cross all t’s.
And I repeat. Don’t.
Because unresolved arguments mean resentment. And resentment between characters can be used later down the road in your novel. It can build slowly. It can turn friends into enemies. It can cause betrayals. It can push lovers to the limits of their relationship. It can bring out people’s flaws in the best possible way and give your story some additional meat.
You can play around with it. You can’t do anything, however, with constant peace and tranquility.
People Don’t Have The Same Communication Styles
Some people are blunt and loud. Some people are passive aggressive and refuse to directly engage. Some people stutter. Some are soft-spoken.
Match different people together and cue the frustration. One character will be yelling their ears off while the other might be glowering, refusing to speak, thinking about how he stuff glue in the other guy’s shoes, or something else dastardly.
And in the heat of an argument, most people jump to criticizing each other and pointing out wrongs which leads to even more resentment. But really this depends on the maturity of your characters.
Which reminds me…
Everyone Doesn’t Handle Every Argument With Grace
Do make sure that people are behaving with the appropriate kind of maturity. You won’t see many toddlers trying to mediate conflicts between adults. And teenagers tend to be more hot-headed than those who are older.
Of course, you still have to take cultures, individual temperaments, occupations, and upbringing into account, but something important to remember is that even the greatest of communicators get caught off-guard by an unexpected insult that hits home. And some people just can’t be reasoned with no matter what you do. Some people will keep fighting even when they know that they’re wrong.
And it’s okay.
In fiction anyway. Not in real life.
Sure we may yell at characters in our heads to get over it and move on, but we don’t read to watch people get along all the time, do we?
Just a thought. : -)
Destine Williams is the author of Vicissitude: Yang Side (Lost Earth), musician of its official soundtrack, and the founder of The Zen Zone where she gives tips and tricks to help out fellow writers. If you are interested in more posts like this, check out more here.