Do you talk to yourself? Characters in novels do it all the time. The Authors Collection.

James R. Callan
James R. Callan

Do you talk to yourself?

Most of us do.  I certainly do.  Sometimes I yell at myself.  And much of the time, it is internal – no one can hear what I’m saying, even if they are standing right next to me.

This internal dialogue is important.  Since I know that no one can hear it, even with today’s sophisticated eavesdropping equipment, it can be what I really think or feel, or maybe don’t feel.  It’s private.  Much more private than a diary.  Much more private than when I tell a friend or spouse.  Only I hear it.

So there is no reason for me to lie, or shade the truth. No reason to leave out unflattering thoughts, no reason to make up a reason or story.  What I say internally should be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Can I fool myself, make something look different than it really is?  Yes.  And sometimes I may do that without even knowing it myself.  But at a basic level, I am going to tell myself the truth as I see it.

Why is this important to a writer?  Or to a reader?

Internalization by a character in your story is important because the reader recognizes that internalization should be a true picture of what this character really thinks and feels.

Let me give you an example.

ATonOfGold-3dLeftAshley meets Molly at a class reunion, and says, “Well, hello, Molly.  What a surprise. Didn’t expect you could make it this year.”

The reader is led to believe that Molly is a friend of Ashley.  But what if we share Ashley’s internal thoughts with the reader.

And if I’d known you were going to be here, I wouldn’t have come.

Now we get a very different view of their relationship.  Because this is a thought of Ashley, not available to anyone else, the reader can believe this is the true picture. Why would Ashley lie to herself?

Let’s try one more.

Mark stands in the doorway, hands balled into tight fists. “I’m sorry, but you can’t come in here. I don’t care who sent you or why. You’re not coming in.”  I don’t know what I’ll do if he tries. I’m all alone and I sure as hell can’t stop the thug if he decides to come in.

The internalization gives us the true feeling of Mark. For all his bravado, he knows it’s all bluff.  And now the reader knows that also.

But suppose instead of that bit of internalization, we used this instead.  And if you try, I’ll be forced to break your nose, or your arm if you push it.

This gives the reader a very different view of Mark, one the reader will believe.

A little internalization can tell the reader a lot about the character, and the reader will believe it.  Use this to give the reader an inside look at your character, making the character real to the reader.

I’d like to leave you with three caveats on internalization.  First, you can only use this with your POV character.  Second, avoid long internal speeches.  Keep internalization short. And third, use it sparingly. Too much becomes tiresome.

But, don’t ignore this powerful tool.

Please click the book cover to read more about James R. Callan and his novels on Amazon.

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