Yes… no… maybe?

Okay I will. No, wait, maybe I shouldn’t…

Something that I forget to do in simple situations is employ conflicting emotions. Inner conflict. It doesn’t have to be voiced aloud, though if not writing in first person a little muttering under ones breath goes a long way.

Giving someone, opportunity to make a decision is a fast way to show-case them as a person. Someone might feel excited to be getting married but not completely sure if he’s ‘the one’.  A student might be nervous to move away from home but excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.  It could be a life changing decision, or one that makes little difference.

Should I have the piece of cake? I love cake, but I need to shed some pounds. Although, it is a birthday, but it’s too much sugar. Everyone else is having some, maybe just a sliver.

Inner conflict can enrich a moment and lend it power especially if that decision seems harmless but comes back to bite the antagonist on the ass later on. Now the trick for me is that inner turmoil is… inner. It is generally a silent thought process. So to show it instead of telling it forces me to have to look closer at what physical cues a person gives off during a moment of indecision. Maybe their hand jets out toward the cake and is pulled back then they flinch toward it again and then turn away to glace longingly back at the sweet temptation. Talking to ones self is also a great way to externalize, although I’m cautious with this, not everyone talks to themselves or mutters under their breath. I have some characters that talk to themselves and some that don’t. I keep track of them so I don’t have someone behaving out of character.

Sasha sat in her Living room and stared at the two sentence email Scott sent. He was being persistent and that was a problem. He insisted on drinks, the social lubricant. Sasha wasn’t stupid, lower her inhibitions and maybe he’d get lucky.
‘Let me treat you to drinks tomorrow night. To say I’m sorry for being a jerk.’
“Maybe getting lucky is what I need too.” She typed the word yes and clenched her hands and deleted it replacing it with No. She stared at the word no and added, thank you. Cracking her neck and blowing air out of her mouth fast she deleted that and typed. That would be nice thank you.
“Ugh, but would it?” She deleted that and leaned her head back on the chair. “Okay Sash, why yes and why no?” The ceiling didn’t have any answers. Her friends would say go for it. “Okay, okay a list. To start, we work together.” She typed the pro’s and con’s and deleted the notepad file. Then emptied the recycling bin on her desktop when her cell phone rang.
She fumbled with the phone. “Hello?” Smiling she leaned over and grabbed a pen, writing yes on one hand and no on the other. “Perfect timing Val. Left or right?” She laughed. “No I won’t tell you. Just pick one.” Sasha opened her left hand and frowned, the excitement of the game dissipated with the reality. “Looks like I’m going out for drinks tomorrow. I hope it’s not a giant mistake.”

Both options would present me with opportunity to create conflict and move Sasha along with her problem. Sometimes when I write things like this I’m not even sure what she should do. So I think about it and what lies ahead for either choice and go with the more volatile one. Drinks with the shifty, super cute office crush could be fun, or a complete disaster.

My advice about inner conflict.
Don’t forget to use it. Make it fun and if you’re not sure flip a coin or something. That works too.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Rejecting the rejected

Crazy things

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Giant

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7 thoughts on “Yes… no… maybe?

  1. It’s easy to try and just use expository prose to reveal conflicting emotions, but this is too much of a ham-fisted approach to story and should be used sparingly. Physical cues are great but they’re also harder to come up with.

    The struggle is real.

    Liked by 1 person

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