Stop the Bickering

Growing up, I absolutely loved to read Victoria Holt. I loved the way her hero and heroine bickered back and forth. Somehow, I thought their verbal battles equaled conflict.

It doesn't.

There's two types of conflict. External and Internal. Neither involves arguing lovers, though I admit to liking some spice in my dialogue. But when I started writing, somehow I translated fighting as conflict. Bad, bad move.

I didn't completely realize I thought this way until I read a book where there was such tension between the hero and heroine that I wondered how they'd ever make it. I finished the book, thought about their struggle and realized that not once did they actually dislike eachother. A lightbulb went off in my head.

Hero can like heroine, and vice-versa, and there can still be major conflict.

Ever had an epiphany like that with your writing?


Kristen Painter said…
Pretty much that exact one very early on. lol
Hi Jessica -

Inner conflict can often cause more problems for a character than bickering. A difficult decision or a temptation can create tension that will set the reader's teeth on edge.

As far as having one of those ah-ha moments, I can't remember any at the moment.

Susan :)
Kimbra Kasch said…
My husband and I bicker, it hasn't brought me to any great epiphany - yet.

Jessica Nelson said…
Hey Kristen,
Aren't you glad you know better now :-)
The things we learn...
Jessica Nelson said…
Hey Susan,
Yes, I love internal conflict. I think that's one of my favorites to hash out in a character. But I'm horrible with external conflict. Really bad. So I have to work on that.
Jessica Nelson said…


Really, that's hilarious.
Anonymous said…
Great post, and title to boot! :-)

Epipanies with my writing ... hmmm. There was a time in the very beginning with my very first novel that I realized there wasn't one single scene with sensory cues. I had to go back from the very first chapter and learn to incorporate them. I was over half way done at the time.

Believe me, when I started this game, I had NO idea there was an art to it.
Jessica Nelson said…
Hey Anita,
That's interesting. I also never thought of sensory details until I took that creative writing class that focused mainly on poetry.

I agree there's an art to this. There's a formula, somewhat, but it's also art.
It took me a very long time to understand the show, don't tell concept. To me everything was telling in writing for a very long time. After all, we are using words to write our stories, therefore words translated to talk (tell), to me at least. It finally clicked though that the showing comes through the telling when you allude to something through your chosen words, like revealing an emotional sign such as glossy eyes to let the reader know the character is touched or sad, rather than saying the emotion they are feeling. Also by revealing a characters reaction is showing, rather than just telling they were surprised, or horrified, etc.

When you are showing, your words still tell, but they reveal so much more than what they spell out.

Okay, that's my epiphany. It only took me several years of studying the craft to figure it out. I know, I'm a slow learner when it comes to using the artsy side of my brain.
Jessica Nelson said…
You're not slow. We all take time to learn stuff. I'm waiting for my next "aha" moment. :-) There's always something new to learn.
Thanks for stopping by Eileen!

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