Paula looks at how out characters quarrel.
At some point in a story, our hero and heroine will usually ‘fall
out’ – quarrel, fight, argue, accuse the other character, or become involved in
some kind of altercation. It’s all part of the conflict(s) we introduce to make
life difficult for them.
For me, it’s often the hardest part of the story to write as
I dislike confrontation in ‘real life’ and do my best to avoid it.
I’m aware that there are many pitfalls when writing a
quarrel. It’s all too easy to give the impression that the heroine is a nagging
harpy, or the hero an arrogant b….d! Readers of romance usually want to escape
from the kind of squabbles that sometimes (often?) happen in real life!
Petty bickering is one sure way to turn the reader off your
characters. Equally, I think we need to avoid belittling, humiliating, and verbal abuse. Any form
of bullying or physical violence is a no-no too, as is one of characters going
into a lengthy sulk afterwards!
Obviously, there may be exceptions to the above, but,
generally speaking, a quarrel with any of these elements shouldn’t occur
between the hero and heroine unless there is a specific reason.
So what does that leave us with? Basically, there should be
a genuine reason for a quarrel or confrontation. It should be related directly
to either the internal or external conflict(s), and not just because a
character happens to be in a bad mood! And it should be a fair fight. A
heated exchange is good for upping the tension, a slanging match isn’t!
Genuine reasons can include self-defence e,g, when a
character is wrongly accused of something, or if a character feels betrayed or
badly let down by someone they trusted, or they discover the other person has lied or
cheated. Sometimes the characters may have a difference of opinion about something that is important to them both. Misunderstandings can also cause arguments, but these should be serious misunderstandings, and not something that can be resolved easily.
What reasons have you used for the quarrels between your