When Arguments Are a Good Thing: Conflict in Dialogue

Today, I’m honored to be hosted on Romance University. Be sure to stop by the blog to read my guest post “When Arguments Are a Good Thing: Conflict in Dialogue.” Below is a sneak peek:

Most authors and their readers will agree that nothing beats a good bout of dialogue. Witty, poignant, romantic, angry—it’s all good. We all love it when characters open their big mouths and let fly. But creating good dialogue isn’t as easy as saying the first thing that pops to mind. Good stories always include conflict in dialogue. But how do we harness the conflict in our stories and make it power our dialogue in effective and compelling ways?

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. So true. It is all in how you write the dialogue, and in keeping with your voice.

  2. And the characters’ voices! 🙂

  3. That was a wonderful post! All very important things to have in mind 🙂

    It is great how some dialogue can reveal very much of a character, his goals and personality.




  4. We give our characters voices, but the only way they can communicate is through their dialogue. We need to get it right!

  5. We certainly do! And as you very well said, keep them “in character”.

    I found out that something really helpful for characterization is having friends of different ages. Even when people tell me “What? What´s a 26 years old woman doing hanging out with a 17 years old teenager?”

    I found out 50 years old woman can have the same love issues a twenty-some does and I know a 89 years old author who can still write… and drive!

    It´s really very productive.

  6. Great way to mix things up. Those sorts of “off-beat” relationships really allow you to explore some interesting themes as well.

  7. That´s true, things that won´t come up other way.

  8. I sometimes have my students approach dialogue by writing a tercet for each character… For example, if age were the platform, the character would say the line as a child, young adult, and elderly person. I also have them speak. If sentence fluency is lacking, the dialogue needs to go.

  9. Great exercise! That would also be an excellent way to chart character arc over a long period of time.

  10. I was hoping more for actual words and examples from books and films. When I argue in real life, I shut down; I don’t have words, and if I do, I don’t think of them until much later. When I hear an argument in the next room/nearby, I leave the area. Anything I do hear is more or less forgotten, so I have no reference for how to build an argumentative dialog. I’ll check YouTube.

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