Got two minutes? Then check out this week’s quick tip ~ Advice on using a character’s first person, internal thoughts sparingly.
Hello and welcome…I am a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, as well as an author. I often struggle with my own writing, and I have found that sometimes, a little reminder of ways to improve the process can be helpful, so, I like to share these moments of brilliance with others :). But, in this busy world of ours, who has time for pages and pages of writing tips? That’s why I’ve condensed mine down to quick flashes you can read in (approximately) two minutes. Enjoy…
Disclaimer: All of my tips are suggestions, and are only my opinion. And, for the most part, there are exceptions when going against my advice will make your story read better. Take what works, leave the rest.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of allowing your characters to talk to themselves too frequently, especially when you are trying to write in ‘Deep POV.’ However, deep POV doesn’t really mean using a lot of italicized first person thoughts. You can write in deep POV by connecting with a character’s emotions and avoiding filter words. But, if you have characters talk to themselves too often, it can be distracting and make your characters seem a bit unstable. 🙂
Here are some examples from my short story, Thicker than Water (I’m using this as an example as an excuse to share my new cover, which I love…see below):
This is Julia’s POV:
“Julia?” The voice came from her right, and even before she turned, she recognized the owner. No way could she mistake the smooth, deep baritone, tinged with that slight Okie drawl. A sound that had always reminded her of honey oozing over a warm biscuit.
Heart threatening to explode from her chest, she inhaled, then exhaled a slow, steady breath, before she turned to face him. Somehow, he seemed taller than she remembered. He wore cowboy boots and a battered Stetson with a chocolate-brown uniform shirt tucked into blue jeans.
That felt pretty much like deep POV, don’t you think? We could feel what she felt, we knew her emotions. I might have been tempted to write it like this:
“Julia?” The voice came from her right, and even before she turned, she recognized the owner. No way could I mistake the smooth, deep baritone, tinged with that slight Okie drawl. It has always reminded me of honey oozing over a warm biscuit.
My heart is going to explode from my chest. Breathe, in, out, slow and steady. She turned to face him. He’s taller than I remember. He wore cowboy boots and a battered Stetson with a chocolate-brown uniform shirt tucked into blue jeans.
Here is a scene from Jake’s POV. For some reason, male characters talking to themselves seems worse that female. Probably because, normally, men don’t talk that much anyway.
Normally, watching the Sox take the Yankees down would have Jake riveted to the television, but he could barely concentrate. All he could think about was Julia.
How could he even be around her with the burden of the secret he carried?
Knowing the truth would crush her. Not telling her would damn him to an eternity of torment. He owed her the truth. The truth would kill her.
Back and forth, his thoughts circled and collided with one another. He needed to solve this damned case, so she’d get the hell out of town. That way, he wouldn’t be forced to hold back any secrets. He could carry it all on his own.
Doesn’t that work better than if I’d done this?
Normally, watching the Sox take the Yankees down would have Jake riveted to the television, but he could barely concentrate. All I can think about is Julia.
How can I even be around her with the burden of the secret I’m carrying?
Knowing the truth will crush her. Not telling her will damn me to an eternity of torment. You owe her the truth. The truth will kill her.
Back and forth, his thoughts circled and collided with one another. I need to solve this damned case, so she’ll get the hell out of town. That way, I won’t be forced to hold back any secrets. I can carry it all on my own.
So, can you see how you can write a scene with internal thoughts, yet not have them first person, italicized thoughts, which can be a little distracting?
And now, for my revised cover for Thicker than Water…First, the previous one:
The new one…
What do you think? Better? I modeled my hero after Raylan Givens from Justified, and I think this cover captures him much better.
Until next time…happy writing!
NEW RELEASE – Now Available (and still 99 cents for a brief time!!!)
(Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon Buy Page)
*** If you would like to send me a few sample pages (around 7500 words or so, even though I will not edit that many on the blog. It just gives me more to choose from) for me to edit and share on an upcoming blog post, please do so in the body of an email to AliciaMDean@aol.com. Please use the subject line: “Blog Submission” This is for published or unpublished authors. In the email, please include whether you would like me to use your name or keep it anonymous, and whether or not you would like me to include any contact info or buy info for your books. Also, you can let me know if you would like for me to run my edits by you before posting on the blog. Please keep in mind, this is for samples to use for blog posts. I will not edit or use samples from all the submissions I receive, but I will use as many as possible.
How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.
Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.
Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!
*** Warning – Please do not purchase without reading a sample. (This is solid advice for any book, fiction or non. If you are not intrigued in the sample, you will likely not enjoy the book)
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