Some people enjoy a good wrangle, though, and they willingly go into battle for a host of different reasons. It's possible they like the adrenaline surge that results. Or maybe they enjoy the frenetic exchange of words with a worthy foe.
But for the person who doesn't like to fight or argue, when they do clash with someone, it demonstrates what they value, or even what they fear. Since they will fight only when pushed to that point, or when their usual dispute resolution methods are no longer keeping the peace, it's clear this is something very important.
So when characters do fight, and we know why, the next thing we learn is how.
Do they flare up? Do they smolder, biting their lip to keep hurtful words at bay? Do they shout, speak quietly, mumble under their breath? Perhaps sarcasm is their weapon of choice, or getting in the last word in every argument. Or maybe they refuse to engage at all.
Also, as the character's romantic relationship progresses, there is more at stake if they fight and lose, or if they fight and rupture the growing trust between them and their beloved. Does this change how they argue? Or when?
All of these things give us a great deal of insight into the characters. It reflects their history, as well as areas of potential growth, and even possible conflict in the future. It provides an important piece of the personality puzzle, knowing how characters will react in certain situations, especially highly-charged emotional ones.
I was re-reading one of my manuscripts recently, and I realized my characters didn't yell and carry on like a lot of folks do when they disagree. The hero and heroine are hurt by the untenable situation they're in, and one of them even feels betrayed by the other's actions, but it would not be true to their personalities if they raged or did something dramatic. They use their words to express their feelings, and try to advance their position, but without deliberately wounding each other.
Characters with other fighting styles might disagree with this method, but this is how my hero and heroine responded to the threats to their happiness and well-being. Some disagreements were more easily resolved, while another heated discussion led to the black moment in the story.
I learned a great deal about my characters by watching how they disagreed with each other. I plan to throw new characters into the ring to see how they square off against each other. They may not like this strategy, but I'll just have to convince them how beneficial it is, for them, and for me.
How could they possibly argue with that?
This is a repeat of a post from last fall. I've just finished up edits for TWO different books, and I'm worn out! I should be done with edits for a little while, so I hope to have a brand new post for you next week.