21 December, 2011

Everyone's Too Nice

Yet another in the long line of problems that are likely to crop up in my writing is that Everyone Is Too Damn Nice. Characters who are friends never get in arguments, or if they do, it's a minor quibble that lasts three lines and then they're best buds again.

In real life, good friends don't get in fierce arguments a lot, but in a story, they've got to. Their friendship needs to be tested just as much as they individually need to be tested by the trials thrown at them by the story. I had a chapter that features something astonishing happen, and at the end, the main character said, "Well, that was exciting. I'm going to bed now."

Yeah. Dumb. Now, she and her best friend get in a huge argument and it doesn't end with them reconciling; the chapter ends with them being pissed off at each other. (Doesn't help that one of them is the servant of the other.) Tension! Drama! Character development! It was a missed opportunity, and thanks to some excellent feedback, it was identified and made better. I'm just hoping that some day I get to the point where I can always identify weak spots like that myself, instead of being so close to the material that I assume that because I wrote it that way once, it always has to be that way.


  1. I think that in the majority if my writing, I have the opposite problem...pretty much everyone is an asshole. Perhaps I need to post some of it online and see what others think.

    But that's beside the point. I still think that you're an excellent writer and you inspire me to be better. I mean this with all sincerity, Ben. If you knew me personally you would see that I'm not prone to blowing smoke up anyone's ass. Hell, I'm not even a smoker. Anyway, keep fightin' the good fight my friend!

  2. Really, like anything, there ought to be a mix of people who get along and people who don't. Actually it's better if everyone's an asshole than if everyone's nice, because at least then there's conflict (although it certainly can get overwhelmingly grim if no one ever gets to trust or like one another).

    Nonetheless, being boring is the cardinal sin of all artistic endeavors, so I keep having to make an effort to make my characters get mad at each other instead of just getting along like reasonable people. ;-)

  3. I know exactly what you mean. In my current, (I should say only true) WIP, the only two people that get along are my MC, Imani, and her brother, D'shen, and they get along like most siblings, which is hardly ever. I'm seriously thinking of putting everything I have so far on Scribes somewhere and getting some input. Perhaps the new portfolio feature. What do you think?

  4. Depends how far along it is; Showcase might be better if it's still a WIP. I gather that Portfolio is for finished work.