In reading some topics on dialogue, I couldn’t help but think how true it is to have an intriguing dialogue, attention grabbing conversation that pulls you into the story. It doesn’t have to be an intense attack by the characters. The wording can also be more relaxed and calm as the scene requires it. But it needs to be there, especially for fiction.
Okay, then how do you indicate conflict? Swords? Battleaxes? Murder? Nope. An unexpected response, lying, evading the given question, even changing the subject is all good. If you can create two different goals in the same conversation, then you have something. That is, if one character directs his questioning in one path, and the second character detours the queries with answers in an opposite direction. Good conflict can create the outcome you desire in the reader’s mind simply through your words. You won’t have to elaborate on a subject to infer your point. The clashing dialogue does it for you.
In my trilogy The Relics of Nanthara, my most controversial character, and probably my favorite, was Azin. You never knew what he was going to say, or what he was going to do. In reading several examples of how he reacted early on in his introduction, it became clear he was capable of anything!
So remember, the embattling conversation should be consistent throughout your story. Adding another character only allows a new thread of conflict which carries the story deeper. Your captivating conversations should not end until the story is finished.