Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Writing Realistic Arguments with Nina D'Aleo, Author of 'The Last City'

Today I’d like to introduce you to my friend Nina D’Aleo. The Australian Author of ‘The Last City’, a brilliant blend of noir crime, science fiction and fantasy. It also happens to be the iTunes Editors top pick for the year in the category of Science Fiction & Fantasy. If you're a fan of either of those genres then The Last City is definitely for you. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Read it for the f*cking amazing world building. Honestly, it will blow your little mind. Nina also does fascinating characterisations as you'd expect of someone with her background. The Last City will hold you enthralled to the last page. It's perfect summer holidays reading material and it's currently on sale for around a dollar, right here and where all good ebooks are sold.

Scorpia – the last city of Aquais – where the Ar Antarians rule, the machine-breeds serve and in-between a multitude of races and species eke out an existence somewhere between the ever-blazing city lights and the endless darkness of the underside.

As a spate of murders and abductions grip the city, new recruit Silho Brabel is sent to the Oscuri Trackers, an elite military squad commanded by the notorious Copernicus Kane. But Silho has a terrible secret and must fight to hide her strange abilities and monstrous heritage.

As the team delve deeper into Scorpia’s underworld, they discover a nightmare truth. Hunted by demons, the Trackers must band together with a condemned fugitive, a rogue wraith and a gangster king and stake their lives against an all-powerful enemy to try to save one another and their world.

Apart from writing genius sci-fi, Nina also has a degree in psychology and another in creative writing. She’s here today to discuss with us how to write a ripper of an argument...

Make war not love? Character Relationships in Crisis: 
Writing Realistic Arguments

Let’s face it, there’s a reason why ‘And they lived happily ever after’ comes at the end of a story. The endless romantic bliss of other people, while being a nice fantasy, makes for really tedious reading. 
Far more compelling are the ‘difficult’ relationships, the ones with more ups and downs than a roller coaster, where two people struggle to understand each other, fall in and out of love and back again, and fight to stay together. It’s a war of words and a battle of wits. Yet sometimes writing authentic arguments can be as difficult as writing realistic love – or at least it is for me – so here’s the list I use to remind myself of the most common argument styles- 

1. Demand-withdrawal pattern: 

In this argument style you see one partner becoming demanding and forceful in their communication and the other person withdrawing or refusing to respond.  This is a particularly difficult behavioural pattern to shift since the two behaviours tend to feed into each other (demanding causes withdrawal and withdrawal causes demanding). 

2. Emotional manipulation 

This is where one or both partners use emotion, usually negative emotion, to manipulate the other person. Yelling, guilt trips, saying ‘I’m leaving’, emotional blackmail and crying as a weapon are all part of this category. 

3. Blaming and Labelling

It’s all your fault and this is why… 

In this style the person seeks to dump the blame on their partner. They attack their whole character (you’re frustrating, boring, immature), as opposed to identifying specific examples of behaviour they don’t like.
The use of ‘never’ and ‘always’ in an argument (you’re always late, you never say you love me) fall squarely into this category. 

*Body language and facial expression can be used to punctuate emotion (he crossed his arms, she turned away from him, he gritted his teeth etc.) and don’t forget the make-up sex! Just jumped way out of my comfort zone there – so back to you, Kylie!

Thanks, Nina. So, anyone got a question? Leave them in the comments...

ALL the iTune Editor Picks goodness. Congratulations, Nina!

'The Last City' is currently available here. But how's about a small taste to wet your appetite?

Aquais, Scorpia City

The last living city

Uneasy forms, made faceless by shadows and nameless by circumstance, drifted
through the infinite blackness of Scorpia's underside to Mortimer Road Marketplace,
where clusters of dim street lamps lifted the dark to gloom. Silho pushed through the
crowds, moving as fast as she could without running, alert to the danger of showing
fear in Moris-Isles. She eyed the people around her, but at this hour they were mainly
refugees, keeping their heads down and mouths shut, hoping, as she was, to blend
with the walls and vanish.
A tremor shook the ground beneath her boots and she stumbled back as a clutch of
hefty Tangelan Burrowers, subterraneans from the fallen city Mayhem, broke out
through the concrete footpath with giant razor-clawed hands. They went to gather
with others of their kind, passing time by betting on gutter-rat races and visiting the
communities of shabby prostitute tents. The women for sale loitered around their
territories, sizing up passers-by with eyes intent on picking flesh. The winding whistle
of a gypsy busker's flute drowned the sounds of unsavoury purchase. The spiralling
tunes sent an enchanted stick puppet jigging in circles around market stalls where
rainbow-skinned Ohini Fen morphed inanimate junk into useable wares. The Fen
auctioned each piece, haggling with irascible, giant-fanged Twitchbaks, snarl-barking
in the language of the sabre-breeds.
The musky scents of magics lingered everywhere. Silho checked the crowds for
reptilian-faced palace enforcers but saw no red uniforms. In the years since the last
purge of dark magics observation of the city's lower levels had become lax, and the
fear had faded enough for many people with natural skills to start using them again in
public. Yet some still kept to the shadows.
Silho clenched her gloved hands to stop their trembling. A group of pale Androts,
machine-breeds born, not made like their lesser robot relatives, brushed past her.
Their black barcodes stood out bold on their necks. Silho watched them vanish into
the marketplace, intent on doing their masters' bidding and getting out before
darkfall. She drew a shaky breath and forced herself to follow, navigating through the
maze of stalls and barrage of sellers and beggars, finally breaking out on the other
side, on the corner of Whitter Avenue, where a set of stairs disappeared into the black
depth of a basement living block.
Pausing on the top step Silho re-checked the paper marked with her scrawled
handwriting '_8 Whitter Ave_'_6 dead. Sweat crawled over her skin and she felt eyes
on her back. She glanced behind her, but saw only shuttered windows and barred
doors. Her boots slid off the first step to the second and then the third onwards until,
halfway down, a putrescent stink, unmistakably of death, knocked her back.
Swallowing down her fear Silho kept going until she arrived at a corridor drowned in
utter darkness. Eyes that gleamed with a nocturnal sheen turned her way and a
 growling voice spoke in the shared language of Urigin. "Go back! This is a state
crime scene."
"I m an Investigator." Silho fumbled with her ID and dropped it on the ground.
She bent to pick it up, and when she straightened the eyes were right in front of her,
the heat of the guardian's breath hot on her cheek.
She held up the folder and the man gave a grunt of surprise. "Oscuri Tracker ._._. I
haven't seen you before."
"This is my first day," Silho admitted.

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