Reply To: Showing Internal Conflict

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Noah Cochran


I’ve had a reader tell me a certain scene needed heavy rework, then come back to it later believing I fixed it, then give me glowing praise for my rework.

Despite, you know, that I didn’t touch it at all.

That’s hilarious man. 😂

If you’d like to take me up on that, you can send me your manuscript and any of your beta questions at itaylorclogston at gmail dot com.

Once I finish my novel, I think I might take you up on that. 🙂

and @r-m-archer

Those are great tips y’all, and I will try to show it through behavior and decision making more, but the thing is, I already do that quite a bit. My problem comes in where I show it through their behavior, but then I also feel the need to put it in their introspection. For instance, one character has a problem not caring about the ramifications of her actions, and there is a scene where a man is hurt because of an event she caused. But then I proceed to put her mental conflict over that issue and similar issues in her thoughts. In other words, I always feel like I’m showing it through behavior, and then reinforcing it through introspection.  Thoughts? I already plan on editing out some of the internal conflict in dialogue and introspection, but a lot of it I’m unsure if I should keep or cull. I guess that will be for the beta readers to decide.


The most common way to reveal backstory in dialogue is the trusting confession, also known as “Sitting around a campfire, exchanging childhood trauma.” You see this a lot in movies.

That is the exact thing I try to avoid, and is something my favorite booktuber rants against. xD I do agree though that it can be done, but needs to be done carefully. I have a scene where this happens, and I am quite insecure about that scene. xD

Now, my personal favorite way, the argument reveal. (I love it too much. The sheer drama of it all.) This is especially effective if it’s an argument that’s caused by a POV character messing up because of their disbelief. Naturally, the others will be like “Why did you do that?” and emotions get high. In an argument, the character may say things they wouldn’t have if they were being cautious. They’re angry, or defensive, or panicking. They’re going to act impulsively and possibly let cats out of bags.

Rose, when I read this, I was like, “Yes! Someone else loves this too!” 😄 This is easily my favorite way as well, and in my opinion infinitely more realistic than the sitting around the campfire type you mentioned. I have a scene where this exact thing happens, and is one of the few that I feel okay about.

Still, it’s kinda hard to explain without actually seeing the scene. I’d love to read one of the scenes if you feel like posting it! Maybe I can give better advice then

Maybe I’ll try to get you one of them, but it’ll be crazy confusing without reading the whole book. Plus, I’m gonna cajole you into reading the whole book someday, so I don’t want it to be terribly spoiled. 😏

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