I read something odd. It was a short book about people having these verbal battles with each other on a psychological level.
It wasn’t all that great, because each time one of the characters said something true about the other person that they didn’t want to hear, the person was upset by it and annoyed at it’s truth.
That doesn’t mimic real life at all. It hasn’t for much of history.
“But James, if they said something true, and the other person was annoyed at it because it was true, I don’t see what your point is. Of course they were annoyed at hearing a real weakness pointed out, it was true!”
Oh no no no, it was true, yes, but no, the person listening doesn’t need to recognize it as truth. Saying something true, about anything, doesn’t ever guarantee you that the other person will recognize it as fact.
So having characters use other people’s weaknesses in a verbal battle against them doesn’t really work for me, because I know real people will get offended at hearing the “truth,” and will claim it to be a lie.
You can even show them proof, and it won’t matter, a proof doesn’t change an obstinate person from believing their own version of reality, no matter how false it may be.
I like some of the stuff I wrote in The Lupine Chevalier. I know some will probably read it and be annoyed that it didn’t go in the direction the previous writings indicated, and how I reveal to the audience various truths that the characters somehow get close to realizing, but don’t at the times expected. The audience may also note that things were forgotten by characters. That they’ll listen to lies even when they have doubts. Because that’s the way people are.
What brought this on? Just seeing an example of it around 2500 years ago, and laughing at how humans haven’t really changed. In the book of Jeremiah (in the Bible, the old testament – and your belief in the Bible doesn’t matter here, just take a look at the example for what it is), Jeremiah spends his life prophesying, stating what God has intended. And he started decades before some of the prophesies began to be fulfilled. So he has years of people not believing, claiming he’s a liar, claiming he’s not from God, etc.
And then it happens, just like he said. And now, with complete and utter proof before them, everything happening just like Jeremiah said, what do those people who claimed Jeremiah a liar say? Do they, upon seeing a fact, a proof, evidence, truth, realize Jeremiah was telling the truth?
To paraphrase them: “Oh why did we stop sacrificing to the ‘goddess of the heavens’ (a false god), because we did all this calamity fell!”
Pretty deserving of a palm to the forehead. And yet, we see the same thing today. People who don’t listen are quite common. So, characters that don’t listen in the face of overwhelming truth… well, maybe they do listen, after all… it’s fiction.