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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

He Said She Said

Wouldn’t it be nice if men and women understood each other better? But alas, she’s from Venus and he’s from Mars. So, let’s use it to its best advantage in writing. When a misunderstanding comes, milk it for what it’s worth by amplification of their miscommunication. I go for the humor, but you can also use it to amplify the frustration and the angst. It’s your call.

Sometimes it’s the man who misunderstands and sometimes it’s the woman. Here are two examples. In example one from Mr. Wrong by Terry Campbell, Roarke, the hero, is coming to find Kat and bring her back to the hospital where her daughter is from drinking Ipecac in an attempt to bring her mother home and into Roarke’s arms. The little girl wants them to be married. Kat is off on a holiday with a wealthy man she thinks is marriage material despite her overwhelming attraction to Roarke, whom she has labeled as Mr. Wrong. Her time with the wealthy man has been a disaster in which she has led him into injuring himself multiple times. So, let the fun begin…

Easing out of his car, he headed around the side of the house. As he entered the rear gardens, he spotted the kitchen lights, aimed for the stone patio and stopped.
“Pull it and you’ll get the treat of a lifetime.”
“Slippery little devil, isn’t it?”
Slippery little devil? He was too late.


Kat jerked the tab. The shell separated from the crab and sailed through the air like Tory’s Frisbee.
Jason’s hand flew to his cheek.
“I’m sorry.” She battled tears as blood seeped from under his fingers. “I can’t seem to do anything right.” It was a good thing Jason wasn’t Mr. Right. She doubted he’d survive marriage to her, assuming he lived long enough. Guilt-ridden, she stood and moved cautiously toward him.
He bolted to his feet. “Stay where you are.” He edged around her and started to the bathroom.
She advanced. “I know what to do. After all, I am the mother of a six-year-old.”
“She’s lived that long?”
Tears of held-in laughter streamed down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry.” Her fingers touched his newest wound as a noise caught her attention. She turned and glanced at the open French doors. Rourke stood in the threshold looking like a savage warrior bent on murder. Her hand dropped to her side, and she offered a tentative smile as he moved toward them. “Rourke? What are you doing here?”
“Thank God. I’m saved.” Jason said, seconds before Rourke’s fist connected with his jaw.
“Get your stuff. Tory’s in the hospital.”
She stared at his disappearing back. “Wait.” she screamed. “What do you mean Tory’s in the hospital?”
Four minutes later and after hurried explanations, Kat stood beside the open passenger door and watched Rourke toss her bags into the trunk and slam the lid down. “You don’t understand.”
“I said get in the car, Katherine.”
She slipped into the passenger seat and jerked the door closed. This was ridiculous. She hadn’t done anything to deserve this frigid treatment, and Tory wasn’t in danger. Of course, Rourke saw everything in black and white.
“Thank you for coming out here. I’ll feel better once I see Tory’s okay for myself.” At his glower, she winced.
“That’s nice. God knows we all want you to feel better.”
A sharp retort threatened, but she bit her lip and watched in silence as he threw the car in reverse. “I realize she’s dehydrated, but it was Ipecac, not poison.”
“Which she drank because she wanted you home, not off for a weekend of love with your flavor of the month. Or is it, the week?”
“That’s unfair and out of line. Yes, Tory didn’t want me to date Jason. But that’s because she wanted us together.” She glanced at his grim mask and sighed. “Of course, kids dream the silliest things.”
He jerked the steering wheel to the right and pulled to the side of the road. “You discussed Jason and this trip with her?”
When he turned that slate-gray glare on her, she nodded. “I tried to explain—”
“I don’t want to hear it.” He faced front, put the car in gear and went from zero to seventy in six seconds. “That’s always been your problem, Katherine, you don’t think.”
She wasn’t sure which was worse, his burning glare of disgust or his cold frost of disdain. She’d never liked her name, Katherine, and now she hated it.
“You couldn’t even wait to make it out of the living room to start jumping the man.” He snorted and shook his head. “I’m glad you didn’t take me up on my offer. I’m not into S&M or having my bed partner draw blood.”
“Now wait a minute. That isn’t what happened. Jason was showing—”
“His equipment.”
She gasped. What an arrogant bully. Boy, was he going to be embarrassed when he discovered the truth. “No. I was learning how to pull—”
“A zipper. I can’t believe you called his equipment a ‘slippery little thing.’ I thought I taught you not to attack a man’s ego.”

Now here’s another example of our heroine misunderstanding the hero. In The Marriage Murders, my latest book written under my real name, Greg, the hero, wants to explain that he has just discovered he has a grown daughter from a love affair he had when he was very young. Roxie, the heroine, thinks he’s telling her he had an affair with the town’s new femme fatale . Roxie’s especially upset about his timing because she came to their date fully equipped with sex toys and a box of After Dinner Weanies.

“I have to come clean about something. It’s not like me to keep secrets, but I thought this was going to upset you, and I didn’t know exactly how to break the news.”
Finally, now, of all the odd and unexpected times, he was planning on unloading about his affair with Marlowe. Like she really needed to hear it on the night she’d hoped for a chance to check out his bed herself.  “I see. You may not have to tell me Greg. I think I already know.”
“You do?” He frowned. “How could you? No one around here knows.” He sighed. “I should have known you’d discover it. You always find out what going on. I want you to understand, what happened happened many years ago. If I’d known what I do now, it never would have occurred, not in a million years.”
She nodded. “I’m sure that’s true. When we’re younger, our hormones get the better of us. I would never have married Billy if I’d known about Georgia being pregnant.”
He stared at her, concern showing by the set of his jaw. “I understand exactly. But in all fairness to Billy, sometimes the woman doesn’t know what she really is doing to a long term relationship. You know, Georgia could have baited Billy, not told him the truth about birth control, even lied to him that she wasn’t pregnant, or worse yet, told him she’d aborted.”
Roxie grabbed the back of the seat cushions and stared at him in disbelief. She dug her nails into the fabric and wanted to gnash her teeth to powder. “You’re telling me you got her pregnant? You actually fathered a child with that woman?”
“That’s what I was trying to explain, but I didn’t know at the time. Now you’re sounding surprised. Look, I don’t know how you found out about this. Did Justina actually tell you?”
Her eyes widened in shock. “Justina? Who exactly is Justina?”
His mouth fell open and he stared at her like he’d lost all his senses.  “You said you knew. I just thought my daughter had somehow met you before I saw her.”
Roxie jumped to her feet. “This is worse than I ever thought it could be. You had an affair with her and now you tell me you have her daughter? Greg, you are not at all the man I thought you were.” She grabbed her paper bag and held up her hand, palm forward. “Don’t say another word. I’m leaving before I bite off the real version of the mints I have in my bag.”

See how the misunderstanding become worse, fueling the fire for more action? Try it in your writing, and please tell me about examples from your own writing.

Bobbye Terry writes mystery/suspense, romance, fantasies and dystopian fiction. The Marriage Murders, Bobbye’s Book 2 in the Briny Bay Mysteries series, was just released. Bobbye and Linda Campbell, writing as Terry Campbell, have a new cozy mystery short story collection, Slam Sisters of Serendipity, that released through Eternal Press.  For more about Bobbye, visit her at and .


Tina Donahue said...

Thanks for the excerpts, Bobbye - I really like your style. :)

Bobbye Terry said...

Thanks, Tina!

Liz said...

nicely done---great examples of classic misunderstandings.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Bobbye, thanks for the example. You certainly are a fine writer.

jean hart stewart said...

Love your writing...Who wouldn't ant to read more? Jean

Bobbye Terry said...

Thanks to Liz, Caroline, and Jean!

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