Monday, August 1, 2011

Balancing the inner dialogue

I got back my MS from one of my CPs. All and all not as bad as I thought. No major plot holes, some little quirks, but the thing that will be the big fix is interior dialogue. I have a very bad habit to write a lot of it. I guess I feel I have to let the reader know what the character is thinking. Now, some is not bad, but beware that it doesn't infect your MS.

Interior Dialogue--What is it? It's that conversation you have in your head, basically with yourself, on your perception of what goes on around you. Your feelings expressed out loud in your head.

In writing, we express our characters feelings through motions (actions), dialogue with other characters, appearance, and inner dialogue. Your characters think, right? At some point they will wonder about something, and, well, will think about it, and that my friends, could wind up on the page. It helps with tension, may answer some questions for the reader, it helps contribute to the character's voice, and hopefully keep the reader reading.

My issue is keeping a nice balance of just enough. I tend to go overboard and what happens is it slows the scene down and/or confuses the reader.

So what's the fix? Good question. For me, my CP pointed it out. Now, I'm going through to see if inner dialogue is repeated (in my case, it makes the character whiny, lessens tension, and slows the reader down), is it contributing to the scene, does it have anything to do with the scene, etc.

Again, like with everything, balance is the key. There is no magic formula. So, I'm going back through and slashing where I can.

Do you have any pointers on balancing inner dialogue?
Links to some interesting posts on the subject:

The Blood Red Pencil--Inner Dialogue

Writing Fiction: Dialogue

Adding Meaning with Internal Dialogue

Stephen Tremp--Inner Dialogue

How was your weekend?

Any goals this week?

Have a great day!


  1. I have some in my manuscripts. I tend to keep it short - one line or so.

  2. I always have to go through and check to make sure the inner dialogue is relevant, new (not repetitive) and not something that the reader figured out on their own. It's hard to get right for sure. Good luck!

  3. Eek! You want to know what's funny... I don't have enough inner dialogue. One never knows what's fully going on in my characters head (well, except for me). Maybe we should swap writing styles. We'd even each other out!!!

  4. I use inner dialogue sometimes if my mc's motivation is unclear. Sometimes I use it to provide comic relief or maybe a little backstory now and then.

  5. I write way too much internal dialogue in my first draft -- and I repeat stuff a lot. But that's because it takes months to complete a manuscript and I forget what I put in previous chapters. I usually catch a lot of it when I do my first complete read-through: "Hey! Didn't he think the exact same thing two chapters ago? In almost exactly the same words??"

    After that, I rely on CP's and beta readers to tell me when internal dialogue is confusing, boring, or slowing down the action -- or where it's missing altogether at a point it's greatly needed.

  6. This is an area I struggle with too, and it's so subjective. Some people have told me I don't have enough, while someone else will cross out a lot of what I do have. I'm getting better (maybe) figuring it out. I go with flow. If it stops the flow and doesn't add anything (or TELLS too much), then it goes.

  7. I use interior dialogue but I try to keep it to a minimum. Is it okay to use it to get information out lol? hmmmmm...oh the dreaded info dump. When you need to get information to the reader there are only so many ways you can approach it. Conversation? Internal dialogue? Telling and not showing? Ay carajo.

  8. I have a feeling this will become one of my focus areas in the next draft. I think I have a lot - some is appropriate given the context of the story, but I don't want to go overboard either. It will be interesting to see what the readers say.

    My goal for this week is to revise chapter 7 and find a new writing den. With Borders gone, it seems B&N is even more crowded than normal. I can never get a table, and if I can, it's a tiny board in a corner far from any outlet. I've been seeing more people sitting on the floor throughout the store because space is limited. I feel homeless.

  9. I use a lot too and it can be a big struggle! That's where good CP's come in, right? Good luck!

  10. Ah, yes, great to balance that inner dialogue. Although with first person, I've found, there tends to be more of it. I don't write it myself, since I love 3rd person.

    I just write away and sorta "sense" when I've been doing the same thing too long--be it narrative action, dialogue, or internal dialogue. I try to switch when I sense this, and move on to one of the other things.