Saturday, April 22, 2017

interior monologue

Some of my students have asked me about how to use interior monologue (thinking) in fiction.

Internal monologue, also known as an inner voice, internal speech, or verbal stream of consciousness is thinking in words. It also refers to the semi-constant internal monologue one has with oneself at a conscious or semiconscious level.

Much of what people consciously report "thinking about" may be thought of as an internal monologue, a conversation with oneself.

  1. Never ever use quotes with interior monologue. It is poor style and ungrammatical. Thoughts are thought, not spoken.
  2. Never put interior monologue in italics or all caps or a different typeface.
  3. Don't have characters mumble to themselves or speak softly under their breath: "I'll get right on it, Boss," he said, then muttered, "As soon as hell freezes over." That technique is contrived and totally unnecessary.
  4. Interior monologue must be written in the same "voice" as the book. In other words, do not write interior monologue in first person if the book is in third person. Example: Bob wished he had brought his book along. instead of: I wish I had brought my book along.
  5. To make your interior monologue unobtrusive and transparent, get rid of speaker attributionsInstead of: Had he meant to kill her? Not likely, he thought. Write it like this: Had he meant to kill her? Not likely.
  6. You can also eliminate the crutch of "he wondered" by what editors call the Q trick: Instead of: He wondered why he always ended up killing them. Try this: Why did he always end up killing them?
As long as the readers know they're in the viewpoint of a particular character, they will know that interior monologue, without quotes, italics, or little fuzzy slippers, is the thinking of the viewpoint character. Readers are smarter than you might think.

A final warning about interior monologue: any passage of interior monologue longer than one page is way too long. Cut it up. Break it up. Or convert it to an actual dialog scene.

Above from the book NOVEL SECRETS,
available for Kindle for only $.99 cents: