It’s an established fact that dragged-out conflicts in fiction that could easily be resolved by talking are the worst. On the flip side, it’s a breath of fresh air when writers understand this and have their characters engage in healthy communication. To appreciate such moments, we compiled seven of our favorite examples in books and TV shows, with comments from different members of our team at Bookstr. We hope you enjoy!
Eric and Otis in General
Jessica Heck, Editorial:
This fictional friendship duo may be one of my favorites to exist. They’re very different, but they complement each other so well. It’s no surprise that Otis has the upper hand with communication, considering his mother is a licensed sex therapist. However, Eric’s openness and expressive nature make him just as skillful at communicating his emotions. I admire these friends that can be openly vulnerable and affectionate and still know when to hold each other accountable. They give solid advice about relationships and confront each other, even when it’s something the other one doesn’t want to hear but needs to. They want the best for each other. What more could you want from a friend?
Spoiler Alert: In Season 2, Eric finally tells Otis that he’s been secretly seeing Adam. Due to Adam’s prior homophobic views shaped by his father’s upbringing, Otis is worried about how this will turn out. Adam used to bully Eric publicly for being gay and is now keeping their relationship a secret out of shame. Adam hasn’t fully accepted himself as a bisexual man. Otis openly confronts Eric and his self-destructive behavior in dating a bully who won’t fully accept him. He tells Eric that he deserves better, to be with someone who is proud to be with him. Of course, Eric does not take this well at first. However, after some thought, he unpacks how he has let Adam’s personal shame take over his pride and acceptance of who he is as a queer man. He decides to have an honest conversation with Adam and says, “I had to work hard to love myself, and I won’t go back to hiding parts of myself again.” Otis ultimately reminds Eric that he deserves the same love and respect he gives everyone else.
Laurie’s Proposal to Jo
Erin Shea, Editorial:
Man, this scene always rips my heart out! For book and adaptation alike, I think that Laurie’s proposal stands out as one of the most endearing proclamations of love, even though Jo can’t reciprocate it in full. It’s always stood out to me because I have such a love for both characters, and this moment allows each individual to really pour out their feelings. Jo does not wish to marry because she values her freedom and can foresee how their pairing would lead to unhappiness in the long run. Laurie is insistent that he has always loved her and cannot see that ever changing. It’s a moment in which the characters both attempt to work through this impasse in their long-time friendship. It exemplifies the delicate but devastating line between platonic and romantic love in a really realistic way, which is why I would deem it a prime example of communication in fiction.
Steve’s Confession and Robin’s Response
Kylie Eng, Video:
I am an avid fan of Stranger Things, and this scene is one of my all-time favorites. Steve had been showing significant growth since Season 1, so watching his crush develop on Robin, the withdrawn sarcastic band kid, was cute. It showed great character development from the popularity-obsessed person Steve used to be. Many people rooted for him as he confessed his feelings to Robin on the dirty bathroom floor, me included. However, her rejection of him turned out to be the best direction the series could have gone with their relationship. In an incredibly well-crafted conversation, Robin trusts him with the fact that she doesn’t like men. In fact, she never told anyone else. When it dawns on Steve what she is saying, she is still his best friend, so he makes a joke to cheer her up. This conversation made them my favorite friendship in media.
Mr. Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth
Joanne Chung, Editorial:
Mr. Darcy has just gotten harshly rejected by the love of his life and falsely accused of wronging someone who wronged him instead. So what does he do? Instead of stewing in his own juices, he writes a composed letter explaining his side of the story while acknowledging Elizabeth’s own perspective. A giant improvement from his condescending confession from the other night, and one that proves his worthiness of Elizabeth’s hand—he is capable of growth, empathy, and earnest sincerity.
Harry and Ginny’s Breakup
Emily Gumal, Editorial:
Harry and Ginny are an incredibly slow-burn romance in the Harry Potter series. From the first moment she saw him, Ginny had a massive crush on Harry, and he only starts reciprocating her feelings in The Half-Blood Prince. They start dating after Ginny helps the Quidditch team win the Quidditch Cup, but at the end of the book, when Harry decides to leave Hogwarts and hunt Horcruxes, he breaks up with her for her own protection. She knows him well enough to guess that it’s for a “stupid, noble reason,” and he explains that if Voldemort were to find out about them, it would put her in incredible danger. Voldemort already tried to hurt her once, when she was only his best friend’s sister, but if they were dating, Voldemort would attempt to use Ginny against Harry as the person he loves the most. While neither Harry nor Ginny want to break up, they talk about it, and she understands why he is breaking up with her, unlike in other books or movies where one of them is just ghosted, ahem, Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man series.
Conversation About An Abortion
McKenna Hendricks, Editorial:
This short story operates almost entirely by dialogue, which means it has to be good. Two lovers sit and drink together, talking to each other about their relationship. There is worry about an operation, which, though never stated, is understood by the reader to be an abortion. This is a very sensitive topic for them both, but they discuss it carefully and share their feelings. I think this is an example of not just good communication between characters but also of how to write meaningful dialogue.
Regan and Aldo in General
Griffyn Tijamo, Graphics:
Believe all the hype you’ve heard about this book in the various bookish realms of social media. Olivie Blake writes a love story that is so intimate and vulnerable between two characters who don’t believe they’re capable of love, but in the end find it with each other. The pair begins with six conversations, each one ending with the goal of learning something about the other. Reading these two interacting feels so captivating because though they’re both intellectual in different ways, that doesn’t stop them from having engaging conversation. They’re always respectful towards the other’s boundaries and what they’re willing to open up about, and once they’ve run out of conversations, Aldo offers different “keys” that unlock a different part of Regan’s past that she struggles to open up about for her to do so in her own time. It was just so refreshing to read a romance book that doesn’t employ miscommunication as the basis of its conflict and instead shares a story of two people who become each other’s safe places.
As you might have expected, our examples of fictional characters avoiding frustrating miscommunication mostly apply to romantic relationships, since those are where miscommunication tends to happen in fiction. If you’re more interested in our comments on quality fictional friendships, we’ve got that covered here!