Releasing your inner dragon

How to Write a POV Character's Internal Dialogue and Not Bore Your Readers to Tears

May 24, 2024 Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake Season 4 Episode 19
How to Write a POV Character's Internal Dialogue and Not Bore Your Readers to Tears
Releasing your inner dragon
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Releasing your inner dragon
How to Write a POV Character's Internal Dialogue and Not Bore Your Readers to Tears
May 24, 2024 Season 4 Episode 19
Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake

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Join Drake and Marie as they discuss internal dialogue and showing your point of view character's emotions.
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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Join Drake and Marie as they discuss internal dialogue and showing your point of view character's emotions.
Writer's room (50% off for lifetime membership):

Membership for Just In Time Worlds:

Give us feedback at releasingyourinnerdragon(at)gmail(dot)com


Drake's Contact Details:
Starving Writer Studio:
Drake-U:  - Use RYID25 for 25% off!
Writer's Room:

Marie's contact details:
Just In Time Worlds:

you can't be a showy every step of the way writer. It's impossible. Your story will be so overwritten and so bloated that it doesn't do. It doesn't do what his job is, which is to entertain. Sometimes not only do you have to, it's important to because tells are shorter.

It's a smaller way to get the information to the reader. The point here that we're both trying to make is just find ways to logically chop it up and give it to the reader when they need it, as opposed to, you know, in the days of Old King Theodore came down from the mountain of Rod with the Lord of Nazareth.

And this, you know, it's like, I don't care about any of that. Like and then you know, where then you know. John A farmer. Yeah. in another part of the country. And we're not even going to see that sword again or any of the tales until either the middle of this book or the middle of next book or whatever. And it's like not going to remember any of this.

Releasing your inner dragon.

So, Drake, how do you give the reader enough information to understand what's going on inside the character without cutting them open on the operating table and completely losing the reader?

Sorry for those that are

listening. I just stared at her for.

Yeah. So it's gonna be a really cool discussion because, you know, we have we're very similar on a lot of things. We also are very similar on disagreeing with what we're similar on. So we're kind of our own critics, but in different ways. So it's going to I'm really, really excited to talk about this. Plus, when it comes to inner monologue, it is something that I use a lot and I think I use it in a way that makes most people happy.

So I guess there's a couple of things that we need to talk about. When you talk about inner monologue and the different ways it can be used, because we can we can talk about some of the ways that I use it. As far as talking back to the narration, which I know sounds really weird, or just being inner monologue dialog in their head.

You also you don't use inner monologue the way I do, but you kind of do almost like the free indirect discourse third person narrative where it's it's the narration giving the thoughts of the character. Yeah. And then, you know, we can just talk about the different aspects of that. And then I think we also need to talk about the other internalization of stuff, which is emotions and feelings and just the way we view the world and everything like that.

So there's a lot, there's a lot. And I think I think.

We should just take a second and say that we're talking about internal monologues and internal emotions and how you give that information to the reader without info dumping it, without just telling it and keeping the reader invested.

Yeah, making it visceral. Making them feel what the character's feeling.

Right. And inner monologue emotions, those are all, you know, internal emotions. Those are all the tools that you use for this.

And again, I guess that's what we're were discussing today.

Yeah. And I think we need to preface it by getting a little grammatically geeky and really talking about that. We're talking about limited POVs. Yes, you're in an omniscient third person or something like that. You don't really have this ability. So what we're really talking about is when you're writing in first person or third person, limited free indirect discourse one of those.

So I'm gonna pushback on that because I have recently actually read a modern book that has written it omniscient. That surprised me. And it does show the character's internal emotions in much the same way as we would in Limited. The difference is that he does a case, the author does occasionally use words like felt, he thought, etc. because he needs to obviously identify who the head is and he absolutely does bounce into whichever head he feels like.

So there's not really supposed to be for.

It is. It is like omniscient. The thing about omniscient that you can do whatever you like and all this right. It's kind of the point.

But. Well, you could say that about any creative writing.

But so the thing is, this author pulls it off because what he does, what he does is he he keeps you invested in a small group. He doesn't bounce to everyone. He bounce. He's got a small group of friends that he kind of bounces into everybody's head whenever he wants.

So and I will agree with that for half of our discussion, because the other half is actually thinking inside your head and omniscient should not, because then it kind of pushes it. If I'm the third candidate.

There's a quote in the start of Lord of the Rings. We talk and like he jumps into the head of a top fox and it's all in attack, right? It's like, blah, blah, blah. The Sox, the Fox thought and they blah, blah, blah. It's like it's a it's a piece of it.

Yeah. But it's. Yeah, but that's not it's not like he does it with Frodo or whatever.

He does the thing. The thing is you can with omniscient, omniscient do this, but if you're doing but it's got the same problems as you've got with any omniscient. Right. Why am I in this guy's head?

Yeah. If I'm. If you're a third party narrator next to me, I wouldn't be about these guys over here. Why am I now in their head? Yeah. So I. So that's one reason why I like when I'm teaching or something like that, and somebody will say, Can I blah, blah, blah. Like, that's not the question. The question is not can you do something in creative writing?

It literally is, you know, creative is the first word of creative writing. It's not Can you it's will it be successful with the reader? Like that's what matters.

So and I want to go down a slight rabbit hole here because I've been I've been wanting to talk about this this a series that I'm reading which is by Adrian czajkowski it's the the act and it does do that it does head hop. It does break those rules. It does have those internal flaws. And despite all of that, I'm enjoying it and it is the series that is now taught me that I have gone beyond the point of being so critical that I can't read stuff that I've because I was like, wow, he's just jumped into his first character's head.

And it's like.

Actually, you know, the plot is interesting, the world's interesting, it's fine.

And right, but that's just it. Will he be successful not following these rules? Obviously, in that case, he is. But how many people head hop in omniscient and just crash and frickin burn.

Correct? Hundred percent. And that's the thing. Like, I would not recommend anybody following. Adrian czajkowski is model. In fact, I think Adrian but I think he would have been more successful had he gone with a limited P.O.V. and I don't think there's any particular reason for the omniscient approach because you don't he doesn't need it. Right. But he is a good enough writer and he's a good enough storyteller.

Like the the story is so interesting that it sucked me in regardless of the fact that I was like, But I'm not that attached to the characters too, and I'd like for every one who writes to that extent, there's a hundred who crash and burn trying that approach.

Yeah. So the funny thing is, is everything you just said is kind of the antithesis of three different Drake-isms of mine of why these Drake-isms that exist. So the first that we just, you know, that I just mentioned don't it's that can you do it it's will you be successful doing. And the thing that writers just just fail to grasp.

You don't get to decide if you succeed at something in your writing. You are not the arbiter of your success as a writer. Of course you love it, but you have no there's no bar like you wrote it. You love it, you're done. Does it matter how crappy it is to you? It's go, Yeah. So the readers decide.

The readers are the one and you've already, you know, for you you've already decided that works for you.

But you also said the the problem is and my argument is always okay so what the readers like this more readers would have liked it if it was written in a more modern, more immersive, more visceral way. So my argument is always, okay, great, I'm glad you love the story.

I'm glad that that you found success with readers. Yeah, but where could it have gone? You know? And this the crappy thing about that is maybe you write it in this visceral, you know, showy, immersive way, and it actually sells less. It actually has less. You don't know, like you have no idea if you know. Yeah, it's like, it's like your, your, your doctor gives you a medicine and your ailment goes away and he goes the, the medicine did that probably, but maybe it would've gone away without the medicine.

We don't know when we're never or, or your doctor wants to give you a medicine, you're like No, no, I'm not going to take it. I don't need it. And the thing goes away and you see, I was fine. It's like, okay, but maybe like, you know, that's it's very subjective and there's no way to test it but to actually do it.

Yeah. And then the last point is, and this is the part that really rubs me for the most part, only people in our world give a crap about this stuff. Yeah, Fans just care about the story. So there's no fan. Well, there are savvier fans, but I'm saying just the average Joe that's just wanting to consume a story.

They're not going to go, he's head hopping. I'm out. They don't even know. They've never heard the term and hoping You don't even know what that means. So they're just like, the story is either good or the story's not good. Now, will the head hopping, does it have a chance of making the story not good without the reader realizing?

Yes. So even though they don't know that they didn't like the story because you had hopped, you know, and that could have been a good story just.

To just to say why head hopping makes the story not good from the plain old reader's perspective is it breaks the reader's immersion. They're immersed in a character and head hopping, breakthrough emotion and less like and but I mean, this is the way he does it, which is he's got this little group of friends and so they're close.

They're intimate with each other. And it makes sense that you'd kind of know everybody's emotions, but most people don't use head hopping like that. Right.

They just go, I'm just now in this paragraph with this character, even though it's the bartender, it's only in this one scene. So I need to tell the reader that he's worried about his wife's cheating on him, which is literally nothing to the story. So I agree with that. But I want to add something to it because because not only does it break the immersion and it it wastes words that you could have used to connect the reader deeper to that one primary character.

Yeah. The cold truth is there's only one person that loves every character in your story. There's only one person who will ever love every character in your story. You, the writer readers, are never going to care that much. They want to care about one or a handful. And and that's that's all they have the ability for. They don't want to love the bartender whose wife might be cheating on him.

That's in this one scene and never seen again in your story like but you you love them you love that bartender. You might even love their wife and their lover and and everything else that isn't even in the story. So that's the cold, hard truth to that is that you're forcing the reader to try and do something that they're never going to do.

Like, that's. That's why head hopping is so dangerous. Great. This guy succeeds. Awesome. Because that's it. It's not. Can you it's will you succeed? So he's obviously succeeded enough into getting, you know, some people who read his stuff, who knows what it is? I don't even know the series to like what he wrote. Right. Awesome. But that doesn't mean no.

And like I said, I would never recommend it. If I create your work, I will pop you on head hopping every single time. Like understand that? I'm not saying I think I think that the the series of the apt would have been better written in a strictly limited perspective. That's my opinion. Yeah. So all that I'm saying is you can do this.

Yes. And it is part of internal thoughts and processes. And so but be aware that you will be breaking the reader's immersion.

Yeah. The way Tolkien did it was the way it is traditionally supposed to be done in third person, where he would tell you what he would have a focal character. So he only had one character. So Frodo photos the focal character in the scene were not in his head, but I know what he's thinking. And so he would say stuff like, like when he met Strider for the first time and he was like, you know, Frodo felt that somebody who was who was evil would feel more good, but this guy felt more evil to him than, you know, and I'm butchering the word, so I don't remember it verbatim.

But he told us what, Frodo? But you know what he didn't tell us during that chapter? What Mary thought. What Pippin thought, what Samwise thought, what Strider thought. He didn't tell us any of that until we were in a different chapter where we had a different focal character. And then, like we were in Stryker's P.O.V., not P.O.V. but focal character, because that's what they're called in third person limited.

I mean, I'm yeah, So we're getting, you know, this is what Schrader's thinking at this moment. This is how he feels at this moment. But we don't get anything about Frodo because he's not the focal character. So it still comes down to not spreading it out because you're the only one that cares. Like and when you try to spread it out too much, instead of forcing the reader to care about everyone, you force them to care about no one.

Yeah, and that's the risk. So I'm glad that this guy succeeds because I never want to see anybody not succeeding in their storytelling. But as you said, you feel like it would have been even more of a success. Yeah, so that's that's really the culmination of all those Drake isms of why I preach the way I preach. And yes, this is all subjective and you do what you want and and these are all just advice and you know, who am I?

I'm an uneducated idiot that just makes stuff up for a living. Like probably no one should listen to us. I mean, at least you're educated. I'm not.

I. So I've got a degree in mathematics and actuarial science.

Yeah, but still, you have a degree. I've got a I've got a degree. I have a degree in bovine eschatology. My only degree. All right, So a beautiful rabbit chase. But to bring it back, we're really talking about the limited POVs of first of all, we both believe that they're what you should be writing in. It's what audiences want today.

It's more immersive, it's more visceral, it's more engaging, it's more accessible to the to the modern audience. And so when we're talking about all that stuff, just understand that, yes, you can take all of these things and apply them in the other writing styles and they will help it 100%. But really what we're going to focus in on, because me and you are limited writers, we write in the limited spectrum and that's where we are.

So I guess it's start with

the actual just inner monologue because this is kind of my forte. It's I use it a lot. It's so funny and kind of one of the reasons why. So it's going to sound really petty, but this is my this is my anarchistic mindset. So when I first started doing this stuff, I always enjoyed inner monologue.

But when I first started, it's like, you shouldn't use my inner monologue. It pisses a lot of people off. It's just not used well and all of that. And I'm like, Okay, but I like it. So why now? I didn't do the I like it, so I'm going to use it. I did the I like it, but why do other people not?

And so I spent a lot of time figuring out kind of rules and regulations on on how I use inner monologue and I use inner monologue to three, four times a page. And I have had emails from people who will write me and say, normally I detest inner monologue and I will stop reading a book if it has inner monologue.

And I don't know why, but I like yours and it's because I'm very, very, very conscious of how I use my inner monologue and more time, my inner monologue. We're just literally talking about dialog and the characters had direct dialog. So just like dialog it in in third person is written in first person, inner monologue written in first person.

So it is just them thinking and the funny thing is there's two ways that I use it. One, I use it to talk to the narration. Now my narration never talks back because that would be You're insane. Although in my little RPG that I don't know if I'll ever get time to work on in the near future. The narration is talking to the pair of you, but it is a crazy kind of thing.

But normally, in my I serious stuff. But what this does for me is it's just kind of it's to me, it takes the reader one step deeper into the character. They're there in the character's head when I'm in limited, and then they get this moment where the reader pulls him aside or the character pulls him aside and literally just gives him an extra piece of information just between me and you.

So as an example, in Ardaries opening chapter, I'm setting up the fact that he doesn't want to be a farmer. And, you know, he's in this existential crisis because he's, you know, turning 17. And that means that he can be forced to marry because it's a communist kind of commune type thing. And everything's arranged marriages and all this other stuff.

And and he really just wants to break away. And his older brother, you know, escaped because he was found to have the gift of magic. And so now he is off in the big city doing the big adventure. And and I'm stuck tilling dirt and I don't want to do this. And so I'm setting all that up. And so there's a paragraph that reads, Our dairy tried to be content with this revelation.

Him being born to the station was through no fault of his own, but working a communal farm until he was a broken back old man wasn't his idea of a satisfying life, not that he had any clue what a satisfying life looked like. So that's the narration and then the inner monologue says, Still, it's got to be more than this.

Now, could we write this a narration? Still, it has to be more than or had to be more than this 100%. And actually, that's my first rule. My first rule when I write inner monologue is I write it twice. I write it both in narration and I write it in inner monologue. So my first draft, I'm just writing.

I don't write it twice in my first draft. That's in editing mode. So my first draft, any time it feels right, I just throw in inner monologue and just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and half of it gets cut half. Yes, I said, half of it gets cut. And I still end up with three or four on every page.

I write a lot of inner monologue when I'm in my, you know, first draft mode. But when I'm in edit mode, I'm going through and I'm actually writing it twice. I write it as a narration and I write it is in inner monologue. And the question I ask myself is, does the inner monologue bring something that isn't there with the narration?

Because if it's the same inner monologue, it's cut. If there's no difference between the two lines. Now, this is subjective, so you can disagree with me all you want, but to me, if the narration said, still it had to be more than this, that's a factual statement as opposed to still it's got to be more than this. It feels there's something personal about it.

There's something dreamy about it, there's something you're being unrealistic about it. You're a child about it. There's there's some emotions that I feel come with the line when he says it that just isn't there or when they're both the same information. I'm not looking at information. I'm looking at is there something that makes me feel something different between the two?

And it's subjective. So again, on 2%, you guys can say no, it's the same to me. And you're right because it is subjective. So you're always right and I'm always right. But the reason why I kept it is because to me, it adds a little hopelessness. It adds a little childishness, it adds a little naivete. It just brings a little something extra that just isn't there.

If it was just written as narration, if it doesn't pass that smell test for me, if it's like, No, that's literally the same. Like, you know, if he's like, you know, he looked up at the sky and frowned at the sun, Why are you so hot? Versus, you know, he couldn't understand why it was so hot. I mean, I'm just making this up, so I don't know what's going on.

But I would like I don't feel there's a lot of difference there. So I'm not going to I'm not going to write that as in a monologue. So I think the reason why no one gets frustrated with my inner monologue is because every time they read it, instead of going, Why am I reading this? This person's thoughts that mean nothing.

I feel like that for the majority of, again, you're never going to be 100%. So my subjective is not going to be everyone else's subjective. But I think more times than not the reader gets something extra and they feel it and so it doesn't annoy them. It doesn't make them go, why am I? Why is there three or four pieces of inner monologue and every stupid page?

This is terrible.

So I will say a couple of things about why readers get annoyed with inner monologue. I think and this is certainly things that annoy me paragraphs of inner monologue.

my God.

It's an infodemic Yeah, the fact that you're hiding it by saying it's what the character is thinking doesn't change. It's info dump in nature. Now dump as an info dump no matter how you that.

I want to add to that because it isn't just inner monologue where they do that, it's also dialog. It's your input dumping in dialog or inner monologue. They're the same thing. They do feel more active. They do it because now we feel like we're being spoken to as opposed to reading this narration, but it's still an info dump.

So you know, one of the that I'm glad you brought that up is I need to think about that. One of the things that is also my rule is short sentences, just one little choppy little thing. It's it if it is a longer thing it's it's a it's the second way that I use inner monologue which we'll talk about in a second.

It's them actually just thinking in their head. It's just dialog that they're running through in their head. So this still it's got to be more than this. He's not thinking that really that's more of a he's talking to the narration, which means it's kind of this private moment between the reader and the character in the story as opposed to just dialog in his brain.

Yeah. So yeah, sure.

The reason why in saying we'll I don't use that in a more so in some will I use free and indirect discourse. I do not go into inner monologue so that line that you had.

Well let me okay I was gonna say let me do the other way and then because I do want to talk about, because you use sort of an inner monologue, you're just doing it and free discourse. Yeah. Did you have some.

No, no.

Go. There's one. I just want to Don't get it out of order.

But obviously.

Because the other one I probably should even started with the other one because it's just basically an inner thought. So later on that same page, there's a piece of the next piece of inner monologue, the and the narration before it. He actually he's getting dressed and he reaches into his pouch and he pulls out a talisman of a God and he kisses it.

And while he's kissing it, he thinks, Watch over me this day I was a disaster and lend me your luck if I need it. He's not talking to the narration. He's literally thinking those words. And so that's the other way that inner monologue is is used where it literally is just instead of the character saying words out loud, they're just saying those words in their head and it's just a piece of dialog.

And so it isn't the same as what I do with the first example.

Yeah. And that inner monologue I do use even in Will.


Because I do have people praying silently and then, and that, that does, I mean, it does happen, right? But that is, that is to me is a different matter from the first time. Right.

Right. But you use the narration version of inner monologue so it's not direct thought. So it doesn't, it doesn't change the reader's, you know, cadence of, I'm in narration and I'm still in narration. So you've got some examples of that. I think.

I do. But let me just first say why I do it in that way, as opposed to going into the first person present tense in a module. My feeling, and again, the stuff is subjective, so Drake's words right for him. My words write for me for sang will specifically and in magic for I to do direct inner inner monologue.

But in sung will.

I think you did for disappointing me because we're coordinating it more than if you had just done it. I don't know.

Probably so. So but my feeling is that the because it's a limited P.O.V., the inside of the chapter comes from the character's head. By giving that extra layer, as you call it, by going to first person, I feel like I am breaking the reader's immersion in that they are in this person's head because it's like, actually there is a hidden layer that you're not getting to see as the reader.


So that's my feeling. So I feel like it's more immersive to have the whole narration be so strongly in the character's voice.

And I actually think that's the reason why so many people fail with it, because they just write. They try to do what I do without any litmus test. So to them it just feels right. So they just do it just like I do in my first draft. And but they just don't cut any of it out. So that's the thing.

And I don't agree with you, but I just talking to my fans and just kind of thinking about writing the way I do, I really do believe that one of the reasons why no one is affected by mine is because they innately get that. They get something extra. Again, if I was just talking to the narration and you weren't getting actually, which is what almost all people do, or they info dump with it, which was talked about, then it just becomes why am I getting this?

This, this is just breaking me out. This is the same piece of information that I would have gotten had it been a narration. I think innately that's what annoys them. And again, I'm just guessing here in talking to people and doing this for 20 years. But I, I don't really there's no scientific method of researching this. It's just what I've been privy to in my discussions.

So it's all anecdotal, but still. But yeah, I agree with you. That's if you do not really pay attention to it. That's, I think, one of the number one reasons why people hate inner monologue because it's just like, what's the difference?

Exactly. So the whether I do it is for so for example, in this little passage, Louie has just been ordered to go to a town called SOM for and to kill an entire family. There, the baron, his wife and their child. Yeah. So Louie grimaced. He did not want to go to sample. The Baron had a wife, and if you remember rightly a child.

He did not want to kill a child. The red handkerchief in his pocket called him home. LaRoche is long. Summer days were already gone, but autumn lingered in his home. Dutchie orange leaves drifting past dark trunks. If he left now, he could be settled before the first snow. He wanted to enjoy the fleeting northern days and be snug and warm during the long winter.

Dark. But what he wanted was of little concern If the Bloodgood opened ASAP, Marlow would suck the life from the world. What was one family against that risk? Yeah. He made peace with his plans being changed for him again.

Yeah. Yeah. So you get all had all of what he's thinking and all of what he's feeling. And the funny thing is, just like, you use just regular inner monologue, just the direct dialog in their head. I also employed that, you know, of writing because again, I could never write something like that and meet my smell test of a really short, choppy sentence.

Yes. So I would have to write a massive paragraph of I don't really want to go kill a family. I don't want to kill a child. You know, why would I do that? You know what I'd rather do? I would rather go home and and watch the snow fall and like, no, that's less massive. And also, it doesn't bring anything different.

It doesn't make me feel any different than if it was in narration. So, you know, I also, you know, continuously am using that style of narration, inner monologue as well. And I think that's the point, is you should balance yourself and use some from all of it.

And you should also like my style is very much like this right now. That is, that is how I write so and it doesn't lend itself to internal monologue like even in in Magic Fool, I have to think about putting an internal monologue I almost never put in any in the first draft because my style doesn't my style of writing my authorial voice doesn't lend itself to internal monologue.

Right? But it's why when I come back through, I'm either adding it or taking it away or changing it or whatever. Yeah, because at the end of the day, magic all ends up becoming kind of an amalgam of your voice and my voice. It's neither of our voices at the end of that, you know, once it's all said and done.

Yeah, exactly. It's a hybrid voice, but it works really well. Yeah. So yeah, it's, it is, it is a part of your, you know, this inner monologue and how you're going. And even when we get into the second half of this, we're talking about internally internal ality or whatever, whatever that how would you say want to say that word that we just probably made up?

A lot of this is going to be the creation of your author voice and how you disseminate information to the readers and how they consume that information. So just depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Neither of our ways are going to be the way that you should write everything ever. I mean, we've even talked about how the fact that, like I'm writing the RPG thing completely different from how I would normally write, I wouldn't say that the the urban fantasy thing that you're writing is written anywhere near kind of the same way that Sanjuro is written.

No, no, no. Not. Not even close. Yeah, I will. Also, just on the topic of that urban fantasy, say one thing when you are writing first person, if you should get the desire to suddenly switch into internal monologue and do something like I thought, please stop yourself. Yeah, please stop yourself. The first person is entirely 100% the internal monologue of one character, the whole narration.

If it's done right.

If it's done right, the whole narration. You do not need the. I thought like nobody else is thinking except.

Unless you're in my word, in its actual definition, Like I thought I was being clever. But the look on his face told me I was not. Yes, something like that. Yeah, but yeah, that's so I see inner monologue so often in first person it's like there's a magic that you're creating with first person. There's an illusion you're creating with the first person that the entire thing is just me and you talking directly to it.

So you're just in my head and you're just experiencing it as I go through this. But then all of a sudden I'm also just talking in my head and it's just, yeah, it just doesn't work.

It's like the magic of first person is in the strength of the voice and the internal monologue. draws you away from it? Because as I said, it implies that there's the second hidden layer. And while you can get away with that in third person because you are in third person, right, there is still the impression that you are a little bit removed from the character in first person.

You are so intimate with that character.

And I didn't think about this, but another thing is I don't write really in first person, none of my fantasy or anything like that. Another reason why people may not like inner monologue because again, readers don't know. They don't know technicalities. Most readers don't know if they're reading something in first person or reading something in third person. They just know they're reading a story.

So the prevalence of inner monologue in first person may also attribute to so many people hating inner monologue. And all they just know is this inner internal thought. They don't know, it's an internal thought in first person versus an internal thought in third person. They just know I'm in a character. You know, this character is talking in his head.

I like it. It feels weird. And so I think I never thought about it like that. But I think that also may contribute to the fact that so many fans don't like in a monologue, and it's still a small percentage. What we're saying so many. I don't think there's ten or 15% of people who don't like inner monologue.

It's not so.

You know, you're not going to be chucking a huge amount of fans up by using inner monologue or not using inner monologue. Right. But but the thing that you need to avoid with it is please don't use inner monologue to info dump if you have to info dump if there is no way around the info dump and sometimes you do, sometimes you do just have to blow up a piece of information down on the page or the reader can understand it and consume the rest of the story.

Just do it in narration.

Just and try to logically chop it up.


You know, instead of give me four paragraphs in a row, can you give me three or four sentences here and then three or four sentences there and then three or four sentences here in a logical manner that I consume it and get there. It goes a long way to helping the reader not get glassy eyed and put your book now, because they'll forgive you for a couple of lines.

It's just like, yeah, I know this information, but I'm in the I'm in. And then you're right back into the character as opposed to let me tell you about the history of the world. So a thousand years ago there was a guy name, you know, Diesel Bob, and he went over to his mother's house and.

Says, Because I'm staring straight at the line like it says, But I didn't read. It was like,

Louie read the curt note again that struck a sparker against his boot heel and burned both sheets of paper. He leaned back on the straw pallet, hands behind his head. Some fog was the nexus of the river barge trade network due to its position, and a king a lot touchy and it changed a lot.

Had just lost its Duke with no clarity as to how a new one would be appointed. Is that an infant? I'm 100% sure. We've just read about some. Earlier in the chapter, we saw the funeral procession of the Duke of itendulat pass us like it's all really information that there was.

Was either two or three lines. I'm not looking at it. So yeah. And then you're back into it.

Exactly. It's like two lines and it's it's intimate, connected with everything that's going on. The reader could conceivably think that it is Louis running through this information in his head.


And that's how you disguise an infant.

And they don't. It's not long enough to make the reader go glassy eyed. Yes. And that's the point. You're. You're never gonna show it.

Let's say it. But yeah, let's say you put that in internal monologue. The problem is not just not just. Is it now a piece of information, it's now an italicized piece of information that is written in first person and in present tense. And so it stands out to the reader. It actually leaps off the page at the reader.

So now are over emphasizing the info dump nature of it. And that's why you shouldn't do it like that.

100% hundred. 100%. Yeah. What I was gonna say was,

you can't be a showy every step of the way writer. It's impossible. Your story will be so overwritten and so bloated that it doesn't do. It doesn't do what his job is, which is to entertain. Sometimes not only do you have to, it's important to because tells are shorter.

It's a smaller way to get the information to the reader. The point here that we're both trying to make is just find ways to logically chop it up and give it to the reader when they need it, as opposed to, you know, in the days of Old King Theodore came down from the mountain of Rod with the Lord of Nazareth.

And this, you know, it's like, I don't care about any of that. Like and then you know, where then you know. John A farmer. Yeah. in another part of the country. And we're not even going to see that sword again or any of the tales until either the middle of this book or the middle of next book or whatever. And it's like not going to remember any of this.

Yeah, though that's what we're really trying to say. So I guess to put a pin in the inner monologue, there's really three kind of ways to use inner monologue. You can use it as narration, like what Marie tends to use it more than I do. I still use it that way. You can just use thoughts inside their head, which both of us use, where you're just thinking.

They're saying words exactly like they would out loud. It's just an italicized instead. And then if you really want to be brave, just be very, very, very, very careful with this. When you tread into the the character talks of the narration, if you don't really pay attention what you're doing. I think that's the number one thing that's going to going to piss your readers off and then don't info dump, you know, we probably should talk about a little bit about the, the, the formatting of it.

So, so yeah, so I think that the industry has pretty much settled on the italicize. No quote mocks.


Unless you are using some kind of telepathy, in which case you want to punctuate that in some way.

Lyric Asterix I think that still is the best of all of the different options.

I agree. I think Asterix is a very smooth, a very smooth punctuation on telepathy.

But there is no standard format. So no, but I do see.

Anything you can you can use prices, brackets, square brackets, whatever.

But so the funny thing is at the open Q&A, at my open Q&A this month, somebody brought that up and our producer Monique was in there and she said, yes, you can use brackets. Just remember, though, that some e-book programs are going to take that as code. Yes. And so it's not going to read it as brackets. It's actually going to then change and it's going to totally mess up what it outputs for, what your e-book looks like.

And I was like, that is really interesting. I didn't think about that.

So you want to be really careful with braces because most code languages use braces as some things, especially HTML and Square braces.


Woof, you want to be careful with those square and triangles. So I like stick to the stars. The stars will get you plenty place.

Yeah, but, you know, the aspects are becoming kind of industry standard for telepathy or, you know, communication from one head to another.

I just I've seen them in multiple places. We used it in Magic four, but is also in Jewel Rosenberg, and I've seen it in a couple of other a couple of other books.

So Rosenberg did it. I mean, they were talking in the seventies with the Guardians of the Flying series. So it's not like it hasn't it's not like it's new or anything like that.

Exactly. So, so yeah, so Asterix is work, right for that. But anyway, so you want to italicize it now Drake and some authors do this. You put it in its own line. Yes you put a bold on its line of of turmoil.

So there is a reason why I do this and normally I've seen it a little bit more now, and it's still very uncommon. But now I'm seeing the inner monologue being popped out in its own paragraph. Normally it's just done in line. Now, the one thing that I will caution you against is we use speech tags because we have many characters talking in the scene.

So John said, Maria said, Drake said, Bill said great, if you're writing in Limited, you're only in one head. There is no reason to write. Drake thought there is definitely no reason to write. Drake thought to himself. Yeah, I.

Don't do that. Please don't do.

This. No reason for it if you don't have telepathy and there's no confusion, I just just do the inner monologue and do it. The reason why I made the decision 20 years ago to pop my inner monologue out is I'm one of the very few authors and I do not recommend anybody following me down this path. I don't use speech tags at all.

Not a single one. Never, never, Drake said. Never. Drake shouted, Never, Drake pontificated or any of that stuff. There's no speech tags in what I write. So because of that, yeah, because of that, I made the decision to just to make sure that I didn't confuse any my readers, that I was just going to put my inner monologue in a paragraph by itself.

No narration ever, ever, ever with it. I don't head hop, so you always know it's the character's head that you're in. And then I also here's the thing that I try push on my students. When you're going to break conventions, when you're going to break kind of normal formatting conventions, it's fine. But you must teach the reader what you're doing.

You must. So that's why the first and everything you read of on in the first time you see inner monologue, there will be usually the word thought before or after it. Now it's never a speech tag. I don't write, he thought, but like I have a chapter that opens up. It's a novella and it opens up with the very first line.

It says, Have I sworn allegiance to the just or just the victorious? And then the next line says, The thought rankled. Bella made Dres honor. So I'm telling you and it is a tell I'm telling you that that piece of italicized first person, present tense dialog, not in quotes that you just read in a paragraph all by itself is a thought from valor.

And then I'll usually do it the second or third time and then I might do it one more time, four or five into it. And then I ever do it again for the rest of the book. Because at that point I feel that I have taught my reader what I'm doing. This is, you know, I'm developing a contract with my reader.

Hey, when you see this, trust me, I will always be doing this. You can believe it. This is what it means. Read it this way. You're good. We're good. Good. Okay. Never mention it again. So it's just vitally important to make sure you teach your reader when you're breaking those. And we did it with Magic fall. When When Ghost speaks for the first time inside of LeBron's head, we set it up very clearly so that they go, Asterix around these this italicized piece of dialog.

First person present tense is this thing that's in LeBron's arm, talking in his mind. We set it up. We train the reader and then we never mention it again. We're done.

So what I do sometimes in Magic fall. just just to, you know, be cute. I sometimes use the italicized internal monologue to identify who's speaking. Like I will have Saint Laurent's chapter. All right, I'll have Lauren's internal monologue followed by Lauren's dialog. Like he's thinking this, and then he's saying this out loud in order to guide the reader along and cut the speech deck.

Yeah, yeah. Because all inner monologue, in a layron chapter is layron.

So yeah, so Ben identifies the speaker of the dialog. So yeah, just to, just to give a counterexample of like why I like in lining it.

Yeah. Now I mean I never have to cut speech tags, there are none to cut.

So No, but I mean that's my point is like, is to make sure that to identify the Speaker.

Yeah Yeah. So for those that, you know, just to make sure that we don't lose anybody. So a speech tag is, is a tag on dialog that tells the reader who is speaking. I notice that key word in that tells Drake said is a tell I'm telling you the Drake said this. Yeah. One of the things that I push my students on for speech tags absolutely cut any speech tag that has other stuff with it because you don't need it.

So you have like, you know. All right, I'll see you later, Drake said as he walked over and took a seat at the table. You just don't need to say. All right, I'll see you later. Drake walked over and took a seat at the table. It's in the same Paris. That's what we call now that the industry calls it action tags.

I do not like that word. It is confusing. I like to teach it using paragraph structure to make sure the reader knows who says stuff because everything in that paragraph is one character's actions and dialog. So if I start off with Drake walked into the room, Hey guys, how you doing? Everybody knows who said that. Literally, just like what you did with the you know, Drake thought to himself something and then right into the dialog we know who said it because you have that's all the speech tag is for.

Yeah. The reason why I say don't cut them all is because sometimes, dammit, I would like to just write, Drake said.

And you know I will. I am 100% with you and I will tell anybody who listens to us, Do not try to cut all your speech tags.

So some

Sometimes it actually can slow down and hurt a scene because you can't just simply identify the speaker. And so you have to slow the dialog down with narration.

I actually don't have to. What you have to do is then go, I don't want to slow this down. How can I completely rejigger this entire thing and work all this extra effort to still do what I want to do, but not have a speech tag? I mean, it just it, it creates extra work.

It does. And but I mean, like in my kind of in my kind of political scenes where there's a lot of snappy dialog, it hurts the dialog if it's too far separated.


And that's we speech tags really shine because they allow you to have that snappy dialog of political fantasy of the political interactions and just identify who's saying the piece of snappy.

dialogue. 100%. Yeah, yeah. So not really on inner monologue but yeah. Gives the complete of everything that we're talking about here. Just it's confusing and there's a lot to deal with it and there's punctuation issues and all sorts of stuff, but that's not what we're talking about. So that should pretty much put a tap on thinking inside your brain.

But that still leaves feelings. What do I how do I, how do I express what my characters are feeling, what their their emotional state is? And remember, we're trying to write internally. So just to preface this for I turn you loose, you have two types of characters that you're writing. You have your POV character, that's the only character inside of.

Then you have everyone else just like you are the P.O.V. in your story and you don't know what anyone around you is actually thinking. The only way you know anything about everyone around you is by what they say and what they do. So, you know, I could see Marie shudder in fear. I can see that. I can see her literally shaking or her eyes darting around in panic.

That is not head hopping. If I say, you know, Marie's eyes dotted around in panic, you're like, Well, wait, how would you know that? Because I literally am looking at her I'm literally seeing the fear in her face. Yeah. So anything like that is fine. So what we're talking about is we're talking about the P.O.V. because we're inside that character so we can do more than just.

Drake's eyes darted around in terror. We could do that because obviously I can feel myself darting, you know, my eyes darting around in terror. I don't have to see myself. But what about those internal, like, real inside stuff.

Right? So I think that this is one of the things that people. Okay, so you need to make you need to take the reader inside the character's emotions because that is how you connect the reader to the character through those emotional bonds. But it is also how you help the reader understand what they should be feeling. Yeah.

So if we take this example of having received this mission from herself to go kill this family. Louise internal emotions was resignation. Yeah. That communicates to the reader what their reaction should be. This is a harsh world where people die at the point of a knife. That is what this is communicating. Your response to getting ordered to kill a family is resignation, not horror.

But of remorse.

Yep, of remorse. And so but the point is, it's not like, look, if you ordered me, Marie, in the current day and age, if I received such an order from my boss, I would be like, Are you out of your mind?

Like, what crazy pill did you drink today?

Unless it was to kill Drake, and then you be like, Buy me a plane ticket. You you, you know.

Like it's inside.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But it it's it's. And because the character doesn't react like that because the P.O.V. characters and react like that, the reader understands that they shouldn't react like that, that this is not against the characters internal morality or it might be somewhat but it's not, it's not the horror filled reaction we were you would that right. And that's important because the reader needs to understand the emotional tone of the world that they're encountering.

So you and and the same thing with things like magic, right? When something magical happens, your character should either react with wonder or with, you know, not wonder what it gives the reader the sense of how prevalent this is. So all of those are like communications, but it's also about connecting the reader and taking them into the scene.

And this is especially true in your deeply visceral scene, your scenes where it all hangs up, You know, the terrible things happen, the combat happens, people die, the sadness, the joy, you know, the character gets married, like whatever. Like you need to take the reader inside into those emotions. And the way to do that is to connect them with the internal sensations of the emotions.

Like you can lean on things, obviously when you're inside the characters that you can lean on, things like the blood surging in there. Is there, you know, they they body drawing together, tension on their shoulders.

Right? Heart pounding, tension.


All of those physical, physical, internal feelings.

But you can also lean on their mental side, the how the emotion feels mentally like, the thoughts churning and so on. Now, these things all to some extent tells okay, because I can't show you thoughts I can a little bit, but it's like so I did this once in in like the where I was using explicit internal monologue where I had like a line of like I'm going to be married.

Then I had like six lines of internal monologue, one after the other, like this. And then the last line was I was going to get I'm going to get married today. And then underneath it I was like, Her thoughts kept churning over and over around the same. So, you know, so you can. But it's it's better in some ways to just say his thoughts kept churning around that point.

Is it really? Yes. It's the right tell.


Because the reader knows how that feels.

Right. And that's so that's my pushback when because sometimes the funny thing about working with so many writers at so many different levels of their career is that you get to work with people when they just learn something. So like you get to work with a writer who just finally now they've been told, show don't tell for a while, and then then they walk in and you can tell it finally has clicked.

They finally get what it means. And so then they start editing, you know, because you have to edit as well as be edited. And they're like, That's it. Know, That's it, that's it, that's it. Well, that's it. Deal. And it's like, we get it. You finally you're finally with us. All right. Welcome aboard. However, let's let's go through this.

So when you say something like fear bubbled up inside him, is it a towel? Yes. I'm telling you that fear bubbling inside of him. But it has emotions attached to it. It has a feeling attached to it. I think there's a big difference in that fear bubbled up inside of him versus he felt fear hundred percent.

And that is where I want to what I want to get to, because fear bubbled up inside him, makes the fear active, and it gives you that creepy feeling that you get in your at least for me, it gives you that creepy feeling you get in your body when you're afraid, like your skin's crawling and, you know, or fear crawled over him or whatever.

Like it gives you that creepy feeling. Whereas he felt fear. That is really a tell that is just straight up. There's nothing attached.

There's no feeling. Yeah, there's no emotion attached to it.

And that's why you want to avoid words like Felt, which is really, really very, very telling.

Feel and felt should never make your narrative unless you're using them as that word. Yeah. You know, he reached out and touched it. It felt like glass and metal all at the same time. Whatever. Yes, great. We're using that word, but you should never use it to you know, he felt very afraid right now and had a feeling that he was going to die like now.

Both of those are wrong. Let me let the fear be active. Let my terror of death hit me. Yeah. And so while there's an argument for their tells and that's where I was getting to with this, while there's an argument to say fear bubbled up inside of him as a tell, that's what that's one of the ways. And there's also more showy ways to even get past that.

But that I think you said earlier, sometimes for time's sake, you just have to kind of give information. And and so if we can do if we can do fear bubbling up inside of him versus he felt afraid, one is still more active, one is still more enjoyable as opposed to the other. And neither take long.

Yeah. And the other thing to bear in mind with with all of this is, yes, fear bubbled up inside him as a tell because you saying fear, you could also you know, his lungs cramped together, his breath caught in his throat. The problem is there are multiple emotions that will make your breath catch in your throat. And you don't want the reader getting confused here.

Okay? Yeah. You. weird that he's having indigestion at this moment.

Yes. Or we had my my breath catches in my throat when I see something pretty like Why does he think this is pretty?

So. So, yeah. So you tread into vagueness when you.


When you do some stuff like that.


So, ah, you're in danger.

Yeah. You're in danger of vagueness. So you do in, in those cases where it's important, like just say the word or the emotion, just include the emotion so that the reader has clarity on what they're feeling, but they're still getting that creepy kind of how it feels inside.

Still active. Let the emotion be the noun of the sentence. You know, fear bubbled up inside him. We diagram that sentence. Fear is our our subject and bubbled is our action as opposed to Drake felt fear. Now Drake is our subject and felt is our action. Even with fear.

Drake Drake felt fear bubbling up inside it.

Yeah, I do that, Yeah. Because it's still just Drake felt as opposed to and then the rest of it is kind of superfluous, you know, literally.

They're like.

Just, Well, that's what I would say. It always bugs me that people write in passive voice anyway, but then they write in passive voice, but they include everything. Like, you know, the boy was bitten by the dog, like all the information is there. Literally, I get the boy, I get the bite, I get the dog. Why am I right in this and passive voice?

Why can't I just say, you know, why can't you just say, Because I don't write in passive voice, but you as in the personal you, not you, Murray. The dog bit the boy. The dog bit the boy. First of all, we want to paint it in the order that the image is going to appear in their mind. So we wanted the dog.

Ooh, dog bite. Ooh. boy. As opposed to the boy was bitten by the dog. okay. I finally get all the information by the end of the sentence, but I've already started painting the picture. So, yeah, the beer bubble up inside. Ah. Drake was afraid as fear bubbled up inside of him. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. So there is a great book that we recommend. We are not in any way sponsored by these people, but their the book is very, very good. Make sure you get the second edition. The Yeah. Drakes going to hold it up the emotion thesaurus and write this guide to character expression sick edition get it on Amazon it's it's great for learning how to show internal emotions and external emotions.

So another book that I also recommend on how to show internal emotions. Yeah, a little book written by Drake himself. The ultimate Guide to Show Don't Tell Me there is an entire section in here on on eliminating vague and general statements, body language and non-verbal communication, incorporating sensory details, internal emotion. Yeah. So if you haven't read my show, don't tell.

This is my thesis on how to be a really good shall we, writer? Yes, you can get that from Amazon too. But like, stop Bezos extra money. Go to pick up a copy.

So I will absolutely recommend. I will absolutely recommend the shutdown tell book as well. You should and they'll book. But the what the emotional thesaurus gives you that you won't get out of like another book is they literally just list the emotions and then list the associate that like actions and feelings and blah blah, blah, blah, blah.

So it's not going to teach you how to be a showy writer, but it is going to help you find actions for emotions. And that's what it's useful.

And it's just a reference tool. Yes, it's not a so many people in this industry want to have things handed to them. That's not the way this works. So like I just flipped to open a page and it has embarrassment. All it is is, you know, it's got the definition of what embarrassment is. And then it says physical signs, a flush that creeps across the cheeks, visible, sweating, the body freezing in place, grimacing or swallowing.

And then what I do when I'm stuck and I pull this out, notice it was literally right here next to me, because that's how much we recommend that I just start reading the list and it just goes, I got an idea. Like, I'm not I've never used anything out of the book ever. Never One time.

It's just an inspiration. It's just a tool to to help you, like, get your thoughts in the right place. Now, drag show, don't tell book, on the other hand, will absolutely teach you how to show not tell in your writing.

What I don't teach you how to show, Don't tell fear or how to tell embarrassment or whatever. I don't do specific. I just each you how to look at this stuff so that you can yes understand the process, so that you can go to your writers group and go. That's a tell. That's a tough thing to do that that's a test for.

Everybody that Oprah mean you get a tell, and you get a tell and you get a tell. Tell tells for everybody.

So yeah, definitely. But yeah I always say this when the reader when the story how do we win the reader connect them to the character. If you make the reader care about that character as much as they care about themselves, then everything you want the reader to experience, you just make the reader or the character experience it. You want to be happy, make the character happy, want to want the reader to be afraid, make the character afraid, want the reader to bite their nails and think they're going to die, make the character, bite their nails and think they're going to die.

And how you do that, which is the theory, is easy. The you know, the the implementation of it is harder. How we do that is through that internal emotions. I mean, that's just it. It is everything thing.

Absolutely. You have to really take the reader deep into the POVs emotions and remember through it you're doing two things. One, you're connecting the reader to the character, which is paramount, and two, you're teaching the reader how they should regard the world.

So if I said if I said, you know, John really loved his dog and he was very sad when his neighbor killed his dog, so he went out and killed 300 people in revenge who tried to stop him from killing his neighbor until he finally got to his neighbor and killed him. That is one thing. Then you watch John Wick and you watch his love and connection to his wife and the fact that she changed his entire life and that she dies and then she delivers after death.

This puppy with this note of I know you, you cannot let this kill you. You have this is it. And then you watch him fall in love with this dog and you see that connection between them. And then the neighbor kills him. You're like, yeah, kill everybody. Literally kill everybody until you get to that guy. There's it's just the difference.

It's the difference between just telling your story and showing your story. And I mean, John Wick kills like 358,000 people in that movie and you are happy to see every one of them die.

But you have their you are there for.

Those that dog just as much as he did at that point. Yeah.

Some people are going to die.

So it's just that that's the difference when the reader when the story and you win that reader through that internal connection between them and that period. Again, going back to the very first rabbit chase we took, why are we against head hopping? Because you're wasting words that you could have used to connect the reader deeper to the one person that matters in this story that is most affected by this journey.

And you're trying to make them love everybody.


And it just while it worked for you in that guy's story, even you feel might have worked better. You don't know, but it might work better if we had been a little bit more limited.

So as I say, I'm not suggesting anybody follow follow Adrian czajkowski I'm just saying like funny.

Thing is is we're not suggesting you follow us like what you want to write like you're grown.

Person or grown adult author right but you want to write. But I personally think you will win more readers by writing in a limited fashion.

Yeah. And and showing.

And showing the emotions and helping the reader connect to the character through those internal emotions. That's my opinion.

And this is normally your line. But on that note, I think this is a perfect place to end this podcast. So we'll see you next time. Goodnight.

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