Monday, June 7, 2010

Introspection - Inner Truth Of A Character

Introspection (also called internal dialogue, interior monologue, or self-talk) provides important information in a novel, but it’s a technique that often causes writers trouble. Too much can be boring since introspection is passive, and too little deprives the reader of getting to know the depth of a character’s needs, longings, and struggles. Introspection provides the truth as the character knows it. It reveals their true attitude toward situations and offers a look at their personality that they don’t always reveal in new relationships or relationships with superiors.

Picture yourself in a work setting. When talking to your boss, you will monitor what you say and how you say while your mind is sending out barbed comments or personal attitudes you cannot speak without offending the person who pays your salary. When trying to impress a member of the opposite sex, people have a tendency to “put their best foot forward.” It’s not until later that the true personality slips from beneath the exterior of the person he thinks he should be.

Another significant aspect of introspection in novels with a romantic story thread is that it provides intimacy between the character and the reader. This is something romance readers look for. These character come to life and the reader takes on the emotion and struggles of the characters by getting to know them more deeply through their thoughts and the emotion that results from their thoughts.

Introspection provides a variety of significant purposes in fiction:
• Reveals true personality, attitudes, secrets and struggles.
• Deepens characterization
• Reveals information and the status of relationships
• Reveals changes and growth in the character as they story progresses
• Increase tension and identifies conflicts
• Provides a broader scope of a story
• Adds realism to scene and sequel
• Can reveal the purpose or motivation behind an action

Since introspection is passive, find ways to bring it to life. Have the character do something while thinking, such as: folding laundry, cooking, working in the lawn, planting flowers, grocery shopping, dressing a child or changing a diaper, doing maintenance or washing a car, blowing snow, loading or unloading a dishwasher, vacuuming a rug or cleaning house. Any mundane activity can come to life while providing introspection, and the author can use the action as a metaphor for his thoughts.

She wished she could dust away her problems as easily as she lemon-polished the table.

Or The citrus scent of the polish smelled clean compare to the decayed odor of her actions.

Use introspection with action to provide deeper details of the activity.
Anne tore through the mail searching for the letter.

This shows Anne’s activity, but gives no explanation to why she’s hurrying, what the letter is about and her attitude or feelings toward the letter. Readers understand through Anne’s thoughts.

Anne tore through the mail searching for the letter. Her hand shook as she slipped one envelope beneath another, her mind racing. When Rob left on his trip, she’d had a bad feeling. Things had changed between them since Angie started working at his office. He’d mentioned her numerous times as if talking about her stayed him until they were together again. All her years with Rob could end on one sheet of paper.

Now you have a better understanding of the letter and what Anne expects and why.

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