I often get into debates over silly things like
movies, books, or torture. I suppose I could avoid
these situations if I really wanted to but I don't.
They make me a better writer. I shall pontificate.
Debate is an exchange of ideas with the intention of
persuasion. It is not a simple conversation; there is
a presumption that right and wrong will figure into
the final assessment. There will be a winner and a
loser. (Unless you're arguing about abortion, then
there will be only losers.) Therefore, you must bring
your A game. You have to clearly state your position
and define how it differs with your opponent. Then
you have to support your position with facts and
reason while attacking the enemy's (sorry,
'opponent's') facts and reason.
Some people can do this well and some cannot. I've
found that when people start getting emotional about
an issue the debate portion of the evening is usually
over. Typically this is when I start talking about
football. This might also be because I have the
amazing gift of taking someone else's facts and
reasoning and making it say what I want instead of
what they want. (Why? Because sometimes I can't
dazzle 'em with brilliance.)
So how does this relate to writing? Fiction is much
like a debate. You are lying and trying to make it
sound convincing. Unless you're writing a sweeping
historical romance you only have a certain amount of
time to make your point and hook your reader. As a
writer, you should train yourself to quickly sort out
what is relevant, what is fluff, and how you can
quickly present it. Debate will help you with this.
It's also fun at parties.