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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Writing: Internal Thoughts

At the moment, I am editing my manuscript for KATHERINE with the intention of sending it into a competition some time in March, and/or to an agent later in the year. As I'm reading through, I've found myself adding a lot of description where I felt the flow was poor, and rewording a lot in other places. 

One thing I've found myself recalling is the show don't tell advise. I've noticed a lot of instances where I've simply told how the main character is feeling instead of showing it. One of the ways I'm correcting this is by turning the sentence from the narrator's point of view, into a piece of internal thought from the character's point of view. For example: 

She didn’t want to make friends, but at that point, she felt that it would have been wrong to push him away. 

Has now become:


I can’t be your friend, she thought. But I can’t push you away now. It would be wrong

But my worry is that I'm going to delve into my character's thoughts too often. I haven't gotten to the point where she's having an all-out internal monologue; I'm avoiding anything THAT full-on. So my question is, what do all of you out there think of using internal thought when writing?

Being somebody who, so far, as written mostly in past tense and third person, the use of internal thought gives me a chance to slip into the characters 'there and now' feelings. I personally think it can be useful if done properly, but what do you think?

- Bonnee.

16 comments:

  1. It's all about balance. I like good internal dialogue, and I like good exposition in general, but it has to be good (duh!) and it has to be in the right amount. Trying to find that balance is the tough part.

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    1. Well that helps my case a little, so thank you :)

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  2. I agree about the balance. I usually write in first person, present tense, so it lends itself well to internal thoughts, but at the same time, I try not to overdo it. It sounds like a fabulous way to bring that aspect into the third person narration, though! :)

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    1. I've seen it done on amateur websites and I liked the idea of it, so I've used it a few times in the past. But I couldn't recall ever seeing it in a published book. I'm glad you think it might work, but balance is definitely a good idea.

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  3. I think that you can do it well, like said before, as long as you keep a good balance. You want to create the character obviously, but dont go so deep, that you are serving your characters to the audience on a silver platter.Part of the excitment of reading is discovering who the people in a story really are compared with you own self.

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    1. The purpose of the internal thought for this particular story is to make the reader curious. The thoughts are often along the lines of the example above, without ever telling EXACTLY why until later in the story. So hopefully, I'm not giving too much away... Thank you for the input :)

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  4. The rule of Show and Don't Tell isn't easy to follow, but let me share my experience. An editor for a major book publisher rejected my second book after reading the first chapter with the comments that while the story is original, it was lacking the thoughts and feelings of the main character. Naturally, I already made changes by adding lots of thoughts. I think that publishers are looking for lots of thoughts and feelings, because they want the readers to connect with the main character. I have no idea how much is too much, but probably 1-2 thoughts per page is okay.
    Not sure why, but it immediately jumped to change your example to :
    "I can't be your friend, she thought. But pushing you away now would be wrong."

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    1. What you've told me about the agent's comments on your book is really encouraging to me in this situation. I hope I can do accommodate for my character's thoughts and feelings appropriately and without overdoing it too much :)

      Now that I read your suggestion, I think it sounds better than what I have :) Thank you for that.

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    2. Just a follow up. I'm still reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, one of the best selling books ever. It is full with thoughts of the main character on every page, like over five thoughts per page. When you'll be in the University, pick a copy in the library and you'll see.

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    3. Ah yes, 'Fifty Shades'... my mum has a copy of it at home, I will borrow it when I get around to it... perhaps.

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  5. Wow thats a hard question and my answer is that I like to vary it. Usually I do a little bit of both in my writing but i have never really thought about it to be honest :P
    xx

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    1. I hadn't thought of it myself until recently, when I saw how much I was changing things I'd described as the narrator into the main character's thoughts. I think varying it is good. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks EJ :) xx

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    2. Hahahhaha its fine :D This is weird, amateur writer me giving soon-to-be-published writer you tips! hahaha xx

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    3. I doubt I'll be published too soon, but either way, there's always something that somebody won't know that somebody else will. We can all learn from each other. That's why I posed the question in the first place :) xx

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  6. I love this internal monologue you are having. I am always asking myself questions as I go through my stories.

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    1. Thanks so much for your support Christina :D

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