Writing Advice

Help for Authors and Writers

Prompt: Write a scene in which one character tries to convince another that they aren’t in love with them

It’s a bit tricky, trying to “convince” someone what you’re feeling. Either people believe you when you tell them what’s happening inside your head, or they don’t. If they don’t, nothing is likely to persuade them. A person who says “no, you’re not feeling X, you’re feeling Y” will never be convinced by any combination of words. (Speaking from experience here—I once dated someone who spent a lot of time telling me what I was feeling rather than listening to me describe my feelings.)

If a character in a story is like that, the character is unlikely to be persuaded. You as a writer might show one person trying to convince another what they’re feeling, but how likely is that to succeed? Who knows.

If the person in your story isn’t like that, it gets a whole lot easier, of course. But it depends on the characters and the needs of your story.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with.

“Admit it,” she purred. “You love me.”

“Objection, Your Honor,” he said. “Assumes information outside the witness’ knowledge.”

“Oh? Is this to be a cross-examination, then?” She straightened on the couch and tucked her feet beneath her. “Let’s consider the circumstantial evidence. Fact one: you enjoy my company a great deal.”


“You spend time with me on every available occasion.”

“Also true.”

“You laugh at my jokes.”

“Your jokes are funny!”

“Not that funny.”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” he said. “The one about the penguin, the robot, and the jar of horseradish…” A broad grin crossed his face. He giggled.

“Moving on. Finally, you enjoy shagging me. Quite a bit, if the way you were screaming my name this afternoon is any indication.”

“Ah, yes, guilty as charged. That thing you do with your tongue…” He shivered.

“The conclusion is clear: you love me. You’re smitten. Head over heels. If music be the food of love, play on.”

“Shakespeare. Nice.”

“You recognize it. Good show.”

“You make a compelling case,” he said, “ but I submit there is an alternative interpretation, that perhaps you have not considered.”

“Oh? And what is that?”

“The things you ascribe to love, may in fact be a deep and abiding admiration for you. Let us consider.” He held up his hand and counted off on his fingers. “Point one: you have not one but two Ph.D.s, in English literature and geology.”

“I do, don’t I?”

“Point the second: you are the kindest person I know.”

“My dear fellow, is that a commentary on my qualities or on those of the company you keep?”

“That brings me to point three: your intrinsic tropism toward modesty.”

“On advice of counsel, I have no comment on that.”

“Point four: your wit. To wit, you are skilled in the art of verbal intercourse. Point five: and the other sort too.”

“Are you flirting with me?”

“Yes. And finally, point the sixth: you inspire me. In a world of muck and misery, that is no small thing. I would therefore like to suggest that the possibility of this alternative explanation be considered, as it fits the facts in evidence.”

“Well, hmm,” she said after a time. “I will admit you are the world’s leading expert on you, which gives your argument no small amount of weight.”