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Old 11-18-2018, 12:30 PM   #1
LoquiSordidaAdMe
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Writing Fights and Arguments

I'm working on a story now and the two main characters have to have an argument. I've tried to explain why twice now and deleted it twice because it's complicated, so just trust me on this, they have to have a fight filled with bitter, malicious invective.

But gods, I hate writing it. I love these two characters and every time one of them hurts the other, it feels like I'M the one hurting my character. I just have no enthusiasm for writing it and every time I try, I just get so easily distracted by something else. I finally powered through it and got enough down that I thought it would do, but then a beta reader told me the argument was too short. I need to go back and make it even worse. Ugh!

Any advice or encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 11-18-2018, 12:38 PM   #2
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Get in a shitty mood?
Seriously my writing tends to mirror myself. My friends can always tell when I'm in a dark mood because it reflects in what's going on with my characters.

Think about something that pisses you off and channel that into your characters.
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Old 11-18-2018, 01:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoquiSordidaAdMe View Post
Any advice or encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks.
Dig in. It's all within the range of emotion you need to be able to express.

I can only think of once when I needed my two main characters to tee off, and that was in my Unlikely Angels story, which I took off Lit.

In my case, I related the event -- which was hardly more than an angry outburst -- through the recollections of the male character, and concentrated far more on the emotion and the aftermath than on the actual event. In fact, the aftermath was an entire (but fairly brief) chapter.
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Old 11-18-2018, 02:11 PM   #4
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I am physical. I pace around when I'm devising plots and dialogs. I stomp faster and work myself into an angry froth when I want to write disputes. I inhabit characters as if "method acting," becoming the part, the argumentative asshole. Stay away from me then.
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Old 11-18-2018, 02:13 PM   #5
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For such sequences, I poke one of the characters to get it going and then turn my mind down and let the characters go at each other without my intervention until it gets to the point I wanted to move out of the argument. Sometimes the whole story changes at that point. That's fine with me.
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Old 11-18-2018, 02:47 PM   #6
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Try writing everything each character wants say to the other as parallel monologues, then c/p them into a conversation. Most arguments are really competing monologues, aren't they?
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Old 11-18-2018, 04:29 PM   #7
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An Offer

Send me the names of your characters and what the argument is about, even whom you wish to be wrong and right. Tell me how long the argument should be, and how utterly destructive of character it should be.

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Old 11-18-2018, 10:47 PM   #8
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I always use the emotions I felt when ever my wife and I would have arguments about serious stuff and/or non-consequential things. We have had some doozies over the years.

And as everyone knows, women save up things or store things you have done wrong in the back of their minds to use against you anything they find themselves in an argument with you. Hoping that little thing you did five years ago will win for them.
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Old 11-19-2018, 10:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelissaBaby View Post
Most arguments are really competing monologues, aren't they?
I've never thought of it in those terms, but it's absolutely true. If that's original, it's a brilliant observation.

Next time my wife and I get into an argument, I'm gonna monologue the shit out of her. 😁
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Old 11-19-2018, 10:40 AM   #10
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Most here have no idea an argument isn't a quarrel or contumely.
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Old 11-19-2018, 02:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoffeeWithMonkeys View Post
Get in a shitty mood?... Think about something that pisses you off and channel that into your characters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypoxia View Post
I am physical. I pace around when I'm devising plots and dialogs. I stomp faster and work myself into an angry froth when I want to write disputes.
Those both sound like they could work. I'm going to try them both and see if one works for me. Thanks for the simple solutions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeb_Carter View Post
...And as everyone knows, women save up things or store things you have done wrong in the back of their minds to use against you anything they find themselves in an argument with you...
That's not an area that I had mined for what I've written so far. Thanks for providing a lucrative new vein to extend the fight in a new direction. Very useful.

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Originally Posted by NotWise View Post
Dig in. It's all within the range of emotion you need to be able to express.
Yep. Gotta keep challenging myself if I want to grow. Thanks for the encouragement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithD View Post
For such sequences, I poke one of the characters to get it going and then turn my mind down and let the characters go at each other without my intervention until it gets to the point I wanted to move out of the argument.
That sounds a lot like my usual method for writing dialogue - recording what the characters' say to each other in my head. So it's good to know I haven't been doing it all wrong. I just wish the voices in my head weren't so polite all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MelissaBaby View Post
Try writing everything each character wants say to the other as parallel monologues, then c/p them into a conversation. Most arguments are really competing monologues, aren't they?
As Polyacrylate noted, that's remarkably insightful. Reading through what I have of the argument, I can see how the each side's alternating statements could be strung together that way. Of course they have to build off of each other to escalate the conflict, but thinking about two separate narratives from each point of view could be helpful for figuring out what each character is trying say. I can add in the tit-for-tat invective when I merge them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kurrginatorX View Post
Send me the names of your characters and what the argument is about, even whom you wish to be wrong and right. Tell me how long the argument should be, and how utterly destructive of character it should be.
I'm going to keep that offer in mind, and if all else fails, I may take you up on it.
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Old 11-19-2018, 03:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Try writing everything each character wants say to the other as parallel monologues, then c/p them into a conversation. Most arguments are really competing monologues, aren't they?
Not mine. I don't say a word until she is completely done.

Then I just say Okay and walk away. End of argument. And she thinks she has won. Which is a good thing, until she realizes she actually hasn't. Oops.
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Old 11-19-2018, 05:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeb_Carter View Post
Not mine. I don't say a word until she is completely done.

Then I just say Okay and walk away. End of argument. And she thinks she has won. Which is a good thing, until she realizes she actually hasn't. Oops.
Still the same. Only your monologue is very concise.
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Old 11-20-2018, 02:55 AM   #14
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A typical fight lasts about as long as sex....5-6 minutes. And like sex much of what happens is thinking about what youre gonna do (for sex and combat)
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FEELINGLUCKYPUNK View Post
A typical fight lasts about as long as sex....5-6 minutes. And like sex much of what happens is thinking about what youre gonna do (for sex and combat)
That sounds about right. But I don't think I have it in me to write this argument scene to be as long as one of my sex scenes. It also wouldn't really serve the story to drag it out that long. That's a compelling argument for why it needs to be longer than it is though. Thanks for that.
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:54 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Polyacrylate View Post
I've never thought of it in those terms, but it's absolutely true. If that's original, it's a brilliant observation.

Next time my wife and I get into an argument, I'm gonna monologue the shit out of her. 😁
Thank you. Most people don't listen to the other side of an argument, they just stop talking and wait for their next turn.
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Old 11-20-2018, 10:23 AM   #17
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Still the same. Only your monologue is very concise.
Is one word a monologue? I know what she was yelling about is, but mine?

There are times I just stood there staring at her, until she stomped her foot and left the room.

But I guess you're right, any response on my part would be my monologue.
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Old 11-20-2018, 01:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeb_Carter View Post
Is one word a monologue? I know what she was yelling about is, but mine?

There are times I just stood there staring at her, until she stomped her foot and left the room.

But I guess you're right, any response on my part would be my monologue.
Should have decorated that with a smiley, it was intended more as a joke. But yes, that was what I had in mind.
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