Internal Monologue

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To start this chapter, let's play a game. I'm going to say a word, and you're going to write down the first thing you think of. Ready? 






Why did I make you do that exercise? 

Well, today we will be talking about internal monologue--the inner thoughts that characters ramble in their narration. In first person, particularly, this is essential; your character's internal monologue literally guides the story. 

So, what exactly is internal monologue? 

Internal monologue is your character's thoughts and feelings, written out for the reader to understand. For example, you will see in a story: 

I gasped at the waterfall. It was beautiful! 

She cried at the waterfall. It was ugly! 

They laughed at the waterfall. It was so average!

We can see a bit of what the character is thinking from the narration! We call this internal monologue. Now, the thing about internal monologue is that we do not just include everything the character is thinking. 

Why? Well. 

Let's say I'm your protagonist. It's my first day at school. If you want me to write down every single thing I am thinking, in the order I am thinking it, it's going to look something like this: 

Something stinks. Is it me? No it's not me. But what if it is me? How do people sniff and check without looking like a monkey? Oh there was once a show about a kid who went to school with a monkey. What was it's name? The jingle is stuck in my head. My gym partner's a monkey? My gym partner's a monkey... my gym partner's a gym partner's a monkey... okay, where do I even go? I'm lost. This place is so big. Um. Ok. Ok. Don't panic. Just ask someone for help. And she just walked away. This isn't good. My gym partner's a monkey... My gym partner's a monkey... the song is stuck in my head. I think I will ask that person for help because she smiled at me. Where am I even supposed to go? VPAC? Oh my pants are way too tight. Ouch. I wonder if I'm walking weird. I wonder if people are staring at me because I'm walking weird. Let me see how other people walk. Everyone else is walking normally. Why do... hips move like that? Do my hips also move like that? Am I staring at a person's butt right now? That's really embarrassing, I hope no one thinks I'm a creep. Do other people have these same thoughts? Is anyone staring at my butt? Oh my god--

If you managed to read all of that, welcome to my brain during my first year of high school all those years ago. 

Now, that paragraph may be fun and fine as a standalone if you are trying to highlight the anxieties of starting at a new school, but if your whole story is written in that format? You may want to revise. 

Think about your own thoughts. You will notice that you rarely describe the locations to yourself, because there is simply no need to; your brain is automatically and unconsciously doing all of that processing. You don't think to yourself, "The door is brown. The lights are off." Unless there is something really striking or different, you rarely think about these thing; you just know them. 

However, as an author, your readers cannot know these things--they are not your character, and they are not in your story! So it is important to change your internal monologue to something more immersive and inviting. 

Additionally, my paragraph above was very frantic and chaotic. Granted, I'm sure not everyone also has that same madness that I have. However, the human brain has weird connections everywhere, and often, our thoughts are not at all cohesive. They are jumpy, random, and rely on a lot of contextual/historical experiences that we have gone through. 

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