Dirty Fighting Extravaganza

Don’t you love Fridays?? I do.

I especially love doing fun stuff here at More Cowbell on Fridays and today, Tiffany Lawson Inman and I are getting together to talk “Dirty” to y’all.

Round 2 of our Dirty Fighting Contest is kicking off TODAY!!! *applause*

I know several of my newbie readers have been shaking their heads, wondering what exactly  all this Dirty Fighting business is. We’re here today to shower you with juicy details and answer all your questions.

In my mind, you should know how to fight clean before you fight dirty. However, if you’re just here for the fiction help, here’s my Friday gift to you:

5 Favorite Dirty Fighting Techniques for Escalating Tension in Your Story

Note: Your sarcasm muscle (which is always used in a Dirty Dogfight) should get a quick flex before you begin.

#1 – Triangulating: Don’t leave the 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).

Uses: Triangulating is incredibly useful in fiction because you can expand the discussion to more characters and stir up some real drama. Let’s not keep this issue between just us, one character says to the other. Oh no, lets involve everybody.

If you have extreme Dirty Fighting Talent, you can stir the pot and then step back and play a new game called, “Let’s watch the other two people fight.” That’s good times.

#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.

Uses: Excellent tool for keeping two love interests apart. BUT, the fight better be about something that really, really matters or you risk falling into the Bog of Coincidence and most stories don’t have enough muscle to climb out of that place.

Escalating also allows for plausible use of Back Story. When you’re moving from the main issue to what the REAL issue is (often happens at the black moment / end of Act 2), escalating the argument will make someone lose control enough that they blurt out something juicy. Way to go, Author!

#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.

Uses: My favorite use of this is employing it when the two characters really need each other. It completely ups the betrayal factor: I can’t depend on you, I don’t trust you, You’ve let me down.

You noticed how dirty those last three statements were, right?  Not a clean fight to be found anywhere with “leaving,” which is fantastic for your story! The farther your character falls, the harder the journey is on the way back up, right?

#4 – Timing: Look for a time when your partner is least able to respond or least expects an argument.

Uses: Think about this from a story point of view. A really great time to pick a fight is  just before the main character embarks on a journey, has a new murder to solve, is called on to save the world. Anything with high stakes works great. Be sure the character ambushing them is a likeable one so the reader REALLY gets drawn into the conflict.

#5 – Rejecting Compromise: Never back down. Stick with the philosophy that only one of you can win.

Uses: This is a kickass Dirty Fighting trick to use on the main character. If there is only one winner, there is automatic conflict involved for the person who “loses.” The solutions are endless, but here’s some scenarios that come to my mind.

The main character could:

  • Realize the universal truth in fighting: the person who says “no” always has the power. Perhaps your MC will change their motivation so that the other character’s “no” doesn’t bother them so much.
  • Learn never to accept “no” from someone who doesn’t have the power to say “yes.” In other words, your MC could learn to stand up for they really want and find away AROUND their primary obstacle.
  • Find a way for there to be two winners. This a continuation of the point above. (Can you tell I like this one?)

Are you getting the idea about how this works? Here’s a link to the post with ALL 23 Dirty Fighting techniques.

How does the contest work?

Between now and midnight on St. Paddy’s Day, if you send me the following, I will work with my NakedEditor pal, Tiffany, to pick the Top 3.


  • The only complaint we heard in Round 1 is that 150 words was too short. So we doubled it this time!
  • Send a short scene, maximum 300 words 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. :-) )
  • Your entry must illustrate one or more of the classic Dirty Fighting techniques. If you choose to name the technique(s) you are going for by number (list of all 23), this will not detract from your count.

Here are the winners and their scene dissections from Round 1!

Why should I enter this contest?

I encourage you use this contest to work out some dialog for your WIP or to create fun practice conversations for your characters. If you just can NOT  come up with your own scene, you may sub in one from your favorite author.

CONTEST JUDGE:  Tiffany Lawson Inman – NakedEditor

Tiffany is none other than Margie Lawson’s daughter! As you’ve seen from previous posts, she’s got just as much energy revving her jets as our beloved Margie.

Tiffany will:

  1. Help pick the winning three entries
  2. Provide suggestions for improving the 2nd and 3rd place entries.
  3. Do a full on-screen edit for the 1st place winner to add even more punch to their scene.

NakedEditor will also be here on More Cowbell on March 13th with an article on physical fighting/writing and an interview with action stunt man (and writer), Teel James Glen.

Don’t want to wait that long? Go to http://tiffanylawsoninmanisnakededitor.com/

Tiffany Lawson Inman (NakedEditor) teaches for Lawson Writer’s Academy and presents hands-on-action workshops. She’s teaching the following classes in April – start  saving now! 🙂

Please feel free to leave any questions for Tiffany in the comments section!

Has this post given you some “dirty” ideas for your own stories? Do you have a favorite Dirty Fighting technique? Do you use any of the five techniques above – in life OR in fiction? Enquiring minds always  want to know here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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24 Responses to Dirty Fighting Extravaganza

  1. Remind me not to start an argument with you.


  2. Oops…turns out I am a dirty ol’ fighter from way back in the day. I am sure hubby could confirm, I use all 5 of those bad boys (going to review the full 23, I’m sure there’s a few more that I pull out of my madness hat) and I use them well. He claims when the dirt flies and I’m backed into a corner, I come out swinging as “the master manipulator”. The lower the blow, the harder they fall. I get darn right nasty. It ain’t pretty, that’s for sure! But wait…don’t feel too bad for hubby, yet. It’s not like he’s standing there taking my tongue lashing cowering in tears. It takes to two tango at the level and I must say, he’s the first that can actually hold his own against me. Woot woot! Smoke flies…everyone takes cover when hubby and I go to battle. LOL!
    Good thing we’ve only had about 5 real doozies in our 8 years together. Phew…and I will say, we both adopt a wonderful “forgive and forget” attitude pretty quick and we go from tears and tirades to apologies and snuggles pretty quick. 🙂
    I can’t WAIT to start playing around…squeee…gonna be fun!! Thanks for the FAB contest and support…happy weekend ladies! 🙂


  3. I love the “dirty fighting” techniques you presented. I’m not where I want to be in my book yet, and I’m going to keep coming back to use your blog for insight (along with lots of others). 😉


  4. Sherry Isaac says:

    Done! And sent! Eeeeeeee!

    Do I win?


  5. Jess Witkins says:

    Can I just send in a tape recording of my siblings and I fighting when we were younger? I’m sure we’d win! LOL


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