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Verbal fight scenes can be enhanced by the view-point character’s anger (short-term, of course, but often also long-term anger), her anger management style, and the anger patterns in that relationship. Anger is an emotional reaction to a problem. In earlier posts, we looked at many situations and issues that can trigger anger. In this post, we look at a common expression of anger – the verbal fight scene. Remember that as with any scene, a verbal fight scene needs an inciting incident, a complication, a climax, and (usually) a resolution.
Verbal fight scenes are often a character’s attempt to fix the problem that she is angry about. Maybe a buried resentment is brought to the surface through another character’s actions (words are a type of action). You should decide whether you want to tap into a flash-pan of short-term anger or flame the banked embers of long-term anger. Both can allow you to develop your character. I happen to like to bring long-term issues to the surface because it is one way to introduce or develop backstory,character development, environment,and backstory (see posts from earlier this month).
Luckily for the writer, there are many ways the character can go wrong. Venting, blaming, and sarcasm are just a few unproductive ways a character may express anger during a fight scene. Unfortunately for the character, poor anger management practices tend to either make the problem worse or keep the situation the same as before. This might be because the opponent withdraws, retaliates, or dismisses the viewpoint character (To name just three possible reactions.) One technique to make the complication more effective, you can have the antagonist trigger your viewpoint character’s flaw, prejudice, or backstory wound.
Such a scenario is almost certain cause the climax and a bad outcome for your viewpoint character – especially in the first half of the story when she is primarily reactive rather than proactive.