Monday, April 18, 2011

Interior Monologue

The next chapter in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is Interior Monologue, which is a form of dialogue where your character is either thinking or talking to themselves without speaking out loud.

Movies and TV may be influencing writers to write more visually, but fiction can always accomplish something visual media will never be able to touch. You may be able SEE a character doing something on the big screen, but you don't know what he or she is thinking. One of the great gifts of literature is that it allows for the expression of unexpressed thoughts. We call this Interior Monologue.

It doesn't matter if you are writing in first or third person, you can show the thoughts of your characters. There are a couple different ways to show it - direct thought or indirect thought. It's a matter of preference of either the author or the editor. I typically choose indirect thoughts because I feel it's less jolting.

Here's an example from my manuscript on indirect thoughts. See if you can identify them:

Tzmet paced her balcony. Curses! Why did it always take so long for fairies to wilt? She strode to the wooden rack in the courtyard at the top of the castle tower. Two wingless, earth fairies hung upside down, barely moving in the bright sunlight, their life essence slowly draining away. One opened her eyes and peered up at the sky with a look that begged for mercy.

“Hah, beg. Yes, beg! It moves me not.” Tzmet threw her hands in the air and stalked off. She stopped to look at herself in the mirror and ran a hand over her bald head. Why did she torture herself by keeping a mirror in the tower?

One of the easiest ways to tell indirect thoughts is that we know what the character is thinking, but the sentences are not in italics.

You can guess that direct thoughts are typically in italics. Most of us are used to seeing it written that way, however, today most editors like to stay from as much italics as possible because it's hard to read. So, if you want to use direct thought, keep it to a miminum. Here's an example from another one of my manuscripts:

Garry never knew what to say to girls, but he had to say something now.

“Hey,” he said. Oh, that’s real snappy, Garry.

She looked startled and then relaxed when she saw him. “Oh, hey.”

“How ya doing?” Another bright one, you jerk.

See how I kept it simple but we still know what Garry is thinking and feeling?

That's interior monologue at it's most basic. How about you? What's your preference?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dialogue Mechanics - part four

Before going on, let's address Elisabeth, Danielle and Julie's questions about dialect. In fantasy, we can easily go over the top with dialogue, so we have to be careful. My advice for dialect/dialogue is the same as for adverbs and adjectives: consider them cayenne pepper and use sparingly.

How can you do this? Well, you'll have to experiment. Sometimes, just a word or phrase will do. Sometimes, like Elisabeth, your characters do not use contractions. Yes, it's formal sounding. That's okay if you want them to sound formal. Unicorns are an ancient race, yes? Then you want them to sound formal and different - strange and mystical. The reader will stay with you if the story is engaging and the dialogue natural to the characters. In high fantasy, characters tend to sound more formal anyway.

Check and see how other authors have handled it. I've read some fantasy where everyone sounds the same, but they have different habits and beliefs. Different tempers and reactions. The thing is to give your characters *something* to differenciate them. Would the reader know who is talking without a dialog tag or beat?

If you want some help, give us a conversation between your different characters and we'll talk about it.