Good Writing Advice is God-Awful Relationship Advice

A gun on the ground surrounded by bullet casingsShow, don’t tell.

Disclosing your actual thoughts to your loved ones is boring and obvious. Instead, use heavy implication to demonstrate you’re upset with someone. Rely on symbols and subtext to convey what you want. Don’t be too “on the nose”: always argue about something tangential to the thing upsetting you.

Lead with a strong image.

Got something upsetting to tell a partner? Paint a word picture that will burn itself indelibly onto their brain so years from now they will wake in the night in a cold sweat still visualizing it.

Follow the Hero’s Journey.

Regular life is boring. Remember to periodically discover your existence is a lie, embark on a quest, undergo death and resurrection, commune with the goddess, and return home forever changed. Your loved ones will appreciate this.

Start scenes late, end them early.

To skip the dull parts, conduct all conversations as follows: Show up partway through to drop some pithy one-liners, then run away immediately.

Make sure what you want and what you need actively contradict each other.

Be complex. Keep your loved ones guessing.

Escalate conflict.

If your last argument didn’t dredge up trauma from twenty years ago, you didn’t dig deep enough. For best results, wait until everyone involved is hungry, stressed, drunk, and sleep-deprived.

Focus your conflict on a single villain.

Ideally, this person will be the shadow-version of you, on whom you can project all your flaws and insecurities. Definitely, spend all your energy defeating this person.

Scenes should accomplish multiple goals.

Relationship arguments can be boring on their own, so make sure everyone involved has an unrelated but vital and concentration-dependent task to complete. Landing a plane, for instance. Or disarming a bomb. See above about being hungry, stressed, drunk, and sleep-deprived.

Utilize a ticking clock.

Everything is more exciting with life-or-death time limits.

Don’t learn your lessons until the last possible instant.

Nobody wants to see personal growth and amended behavior across an extended time period. It’s best to act like an idiot until the eleventh hour and then communicate you’ve changed with a single grand gesture.

Murder your darlings.

Need I say more?

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