Arguments in Fiction

"I can't believe you would be so rude to her!"

"I wasn't being rude, I just thought if she stopped crying for a minute-"

"You don't just tell a girl to stop crying, James!"

"Well why not? You tell me to stop crying all the time!"

"That's a different kind of cry, you idiot."

It might be silly, how long it took me to figure this out, but if you've ever been in an argument in real life then you know that the majority of the actual arguing is trying to force someone else to listen to your point. (I'm sure some of you have had that experience - if you haven't experienced it for yourself, close your eyes and imagine it.)

A lot of arguments start (and continue) with miscommunication, which is kind of a big deal if you think about it. If we could communicate clearly to one another, then about 75% of arguments would conclude in 5 minutes or less.

20% are those that genuinely disagree with one another and don't want to give ground, and the other 5% are perpetrated by people who don't want to listen, so we're going to set that aside for today.

If you look at arguments in fiction, though, you might notice something a little funny. There's rarely any miscommunication at all. Both sides will clearly state their views, and if they continue to disagree it's because they fundamentally disagree, not because one side doesn't understand what the other is trying to say - or even better, thinks they understand, but have got it all wrong.

Now, I don't think this clarity is really a bad thing. It shortens conversations that would otherwise be tedious and redundant, and generally makes the story easier to tell. But unless there's a particular emphasis on one character's inability to understand another, the whole miscommunication aspect of arguments is left out entirely.

My question for you today, Inklings, is to tell me: what would an argument look like in fiction if it reflected an actual argument you've had in your life?

Is that argument more interesting to read because of the miscommunication, or is it more confusing?

I will not say it's better one way or another, but I do think it's very interesting that this never occurred to me before.

#Writing #Arguments #Dialogue

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