Posted by: victanguera | April 7, 2011

(Don’t) Say What You Mean: Writing Prompt #319

Arguments within a story are great opportunities for subterfuge, either by withholding information or deliberately lying, thereby escalating conflict. If we sneak around the truth, often those things we talk to another person about can become a conflict as well.

For example, there is this guy I used to have a bit of a thing for. I wouldn’t ever tell him that though, and often wound up extremely angry with him. Because I didn’t want a relationship and wouldn’t tell him about my attraction to him, when he’d start to act friendly, I’d avoid him or even start an argument to piss him off and drive him away.

So for today’s prompt, what things does your character say or do to avoid an issue?



  1. Funny, I was just writing a scene pretty much like this.

    Mother, father, and twelve-year-old (adopted) daughter are walking along. Daughter is upset that parents aren’t doing something she thinks they should do, or aren’t doing it fast enough. She doesn’t want to admit she’s angry, but they coax it out of her.

    They stop and talk about it, explaining why they can’t do it right then, and asking if she wants to help the next day (when they can start). The daughter says she can’t, she has something else she’s committed to do. The father points out that tomorrow is Sunday, so it would work out.

    The daughter, frustrated with herself for making the mistake about what day it is, punches her father in the arm (not too hard, but more than a tap). Familiar with this form of communication, he hauls off and punches her back (not too hard, but more than a tap). Then the daughter is fine and demands to know when they will eat.

    The mother is getting used to this sort of thing, but she really doesn’t understand rough-housing as a way of demonstrating affection (or anything positive). Her instinct would be, once the disagreement is resolved, to hug her daughter, but the father understands that the tomboyish daughter would be mortified to be hugged in public (but a punch in the arm can say a lot about how much they love each other).

    • So is the daughter actually busy on Sunday? That would create even more intriguing conflict as she tries to do what she has planned. Lying just might ensue!

      • No, I was unclear. The daughter is _not_ busy on Sundays (long story, but she delivers mail, and there’s no mail delivery on Sunday). So, contrary to what she thought, she can go with her parents. But she’s embarrassed about making the mistake about what day it was.

      • You were clear. I just like the potential for additional conflict that could exist from this scene :}

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