Consider this post your graduation day into Dirty Fighting Apprenticeship. Your graduation present from me? An amazing contest (OMG, wait till you see the judge at the end of this post)!
We’ve been rolling around in the Dirty Fighting mudpit for several weeks now, so I’m pretty confident you’re ready to THROW IT DOWN!
There are twenty-three entries on the Dirty Fighting Techniques document (not twenty-two as I originally thought). Surely at least one of these will help you ratchet up the conflict in your story. We want to throw those precious characters FAR under the bus.
Note: Be sure to flex your sarcasm muscle – which is always used in a Dirty Dogfight.
Top 10 Dirty Fighting Techniques For Your Writing
#1 – Triangulating: Don’t leave this issue between you and your conflict partner (could be a family member, friend or love interest), pull everybody in. Quote well-known authorities who agree with you and list every family member whom you know has taken your side (and lie about the ones you haven’t spoken to, yet).
#2 – Escalating: Quickly move from the main issue of the argument to questioning your partner’s basic personality, and then move on to wondering whether the relationship is even worth it. Blame your partner for having a flawed personality so that a happy relationship will be impossible.
#3 – Leaving: No problem is so big or important that it can’t be ignored or abandoned all together. Walk out of the room, leave the house, or just refuse to talk. Sometimes just
threatening to leave can accomplish the same thing without all the inconvenience of following through.
#4 – Timing: Look for a time when your partner is least able to respond or least expects an argument.
#5 – Rejecting Compromise: Never back down. Stick with the philosophy that only one of you can win.
#6 – Brown Bagging: Never stick to just the original issue. Bring up as many problems as possible, and in great detail. Think of every complaint you can from your past history and lay them all on your partner at the same time. An overwhelmed person can never fight back effectively!
#7 – Cross Complaining: When your partner complains about something, make sure you raise a complaint of your own. “I forgot to make up the bed? How about all the times you haven’t taken out the garbage?”
#8 – Over-Generalizing: Use words like “never ” or ” always .” “You never act decent to my mother.” This will force your partner into defending his or her overall actions rather than looking at the issue at hand.
#9 – Pulling Rank: Don’t address the real issues— it’s much easier just to say that you bring home more money, or you have more friends, or you have more education, or you do more around the house. “When you make as much money as I do, then I’ll listen to you” works like a charm. Keep your partner down! There’s no need for equality in a relationship!
#10 – Using Sarcasm: This really gets their goat! “Well, lookee here at who’s so perfect all the time!” Use just the right tone and your partner may not have a good comeback. Push their buttons!
Now, we’re ringing our Cowbell for Round 3!
For the TKO…here are the other thirteen dirty fighting techniques, in alphabetic order. The original list came from my therapist (yeah, those details are juicy if you’d like to read the original Dirty Fighting post).
Because I love my peeps here at More Cowbell, I also searched high and low online and finally found a link to 19 of the 23 techniques so you’ll have an online reference to most of them.
#11 – Asking Why: Treat your partner like an irresponsible child. “Why didn’t you clean up after dinner?” “Why don’t you love me like John loves Helen?” Make your partner feel that he or she is incapable of an adult relationship rather than focusing on the issue at hand.
#12 – Avoiding Responsibility: Bring any disagreement to a sudden halt by saying “I forgot.” Other convenient excuses could include: “I had too much to drink,” or “I guess I was tired.” Why engage in a discussion when it is much easier just to avoid the whole thing?
#13 – Be Inconsistent: Keep your conflict partner off balance by changing your position.
Never hold the same opinion twice. Another good twist on this theme is to complain that your partner never speaks to you and ignore whatever they do say.
#14 – Blaming: Make it clear that you are not at fault and that you are simply the victim. Never admit that you play any part in the difficulty and that you will never make any changes. Let your partner know that he or she is entirely at fault and that if the relationship is to get any better, it is your partner who will have to change.
#15 – Crucializing: Exaggerate the importance of an issue by drawing conclusions of great magnitude regarding the relationship. “If you loved me, you would never have done this” is a good one. Or try: “This proves you have never cared about me.”
#16 – Fortune Telling: Like mind-reading, this technique gives you the upper hand. You will never change” demoralizes your partner and effectively blocks resolution of the real issues at hand.
#17 – Giving Advice: Whenever your partner wants to talk over a problem, always act like the expert. You should tell the person how to act, think and feel. Always have the better answer. If this is ever questioned you can always say that you were only trying to be helpful.
#18 – Labeling: Learn some negative terms like “neurotic,” “alcoholic,” “immature,” or “paranoid” to use whenever you want to give the impression that the other person is at fault. For a potent impact, use a term like “You slob…” whenever you want to suggest that your partner is inherently flawed as a person rather than focusing primarily on behaviors that can change.
#19 – Mind Reading: Let your partner know that you are the expert in how he or she feels or thinks. This way you won’t have to deal with any issues at all. “You don’t really feel angry right now.” “You didn’t mean to say you wouldn’t be home for dinner.” Deprive your partner of all rights as an equal.
#20 – Not Listening: Don’t let your partner know that you value his or her opinion or feelings. Hear only what you want to hear and ignore the rest. Reinterpret whatever your partner says to suit your own needs. Better yet, interrupt whenever your partner starts to talk. Or pretend to read or fall asleep while your partner is talking. A powerful tactic is to leave the house whenever your partner brings up an issue for discussion.
#21 – Personalizing: Anybody can solve a fight by sticking to the issues. Shift to personality and character issues and you should be able to generate enough defensiveness to keep the conflict going forever. Name calling and other terminal language (“You never really loved me!”) can help take the focus away from a healthy debate of the issues and into real character assassination.
#22 – Playing the Martyr: If timed properly, this technique can completely disorient your partner. “You’re right, honey, I guess there really is no hope for me.” How can your partner respond to that? Let him or her think they have won the victory! If there is no other alternative, pretend to be sick until your partner’s behavior changes— and blame your illness on your partner.
#23 – Self-Righteousness: This is the great morale builder. By listing and reciting every slight, injustice, inequity you’ve suffered through and sacrifice you’ve made, you will experience a renewed sense of self-righteousness. Giving advice on how to think, act, and feel maintains the superiority you need. You can use this approach to justify almost any activity you want to engage in.
What is the reward for all this Dirty Fighting apprenticeship?? A Dirty Fighting Contest!
Between now and midnight on 9/6, if you send me the following, I will work with my (exciting) contest judge to pick the Top 3 and put them in a post here on More Cowbell. Read below the rules for my BIG SURPRISE!!
- Send a short scene, maximum 150 words (if you need 155 to finish the sentence, I’m not gonna ding you, I promise) to JennyHansensMail (AT) aol (DOT) com.
- Your scene may contain a sentence at the top telling us what the fight is about though it will be included in your wordcount. (We really just want the fight. :-))
- In your short scene, illustrate one or more of the classic Dirty Fighting techniques. If you choose to name the technique(s) you are going for by number, this will not detract from your count.
You can use this to work out some dialog for your WIP or just use practice characters for your conversations. If you just can not come up with your own scene, you may sub in one from your favorite author. (I think, once you read the next line, you’ll really want to use your own writings.)
CONTEST JUDGE: Tiffany Lawson Inman – NakedEditor
Tiffany is none other than Margie Lawson’s daughter! I’m here to tell you she’s got just as much energy revving her jets as our beloved Margie. Maybe even a tiny bit more. For the naked truth about our esteemed contest judge, click here.
Tiffany will take the winning three entries and do an on-screen edit of how to give them even more punch. (We’re gonna have so much fun!)
NakedEditor will be here on More Cowbell on September 20th to work her magic on the winning entries! September 20 is my mom’s birthday (which is always special because she’s in heaven) and we’re gonna have a birthday party More Cowbell style with this contest!
In light of that the GRAND PRIZE is:
- Free 1st Five Page Edit or Free Registration for her class in October: http://bit.ly/TripleThreatBehindStagingA_Scene hosted by Lawson Writer’s Academy.
- Anyone who comments between now and midnight PST on 8/31 gets their name put into the pool to win a seat in the October class! Tiffany will draw out a lucky name, which will be announced in the Lovin’ Friday post this week.
Are you as amped up as I am?? If you haven’t seen Tiffany in action, click here to see a fabulous scene dissection she did over on Haley Whitehall’s site.
Do you have editing questions for Tiffany?? Have you gotten ideas about how to use these filthy methods in your own stories? What is your favorite Dirty Fighting technique? Enquiring minds always want to know here at More Cowbell!
(who is bouncing off the walls with excitement)