Friday, June 29, 2012

Operation: Cut the Internal Monologue

Not too long ago, a friend of mine commented on the differences between men and women (these are generalizations, not rules). Many women--I think all the women I’ve ever known--are constantly thinking of something. Personally, I have a constant internal monologue going on (on a side note, its usually in third person: “She wondered what to have for lunch . . .”). My friend said she used to ask her husband what he was thinking, and he would answer, “Nothing.” She got frustrated, thinking he was just refusing to tell her. After awhile, though, she realized he really was thinking nothing.

The ending of my novel is messy. Very messy. In talking with a co-worker the other night, he reminded me that guys, in general, don’t internally monologue. The next day, I went back to my ending to work on some new scenes, and they came out much less messy. I concentrated on setting and action to indicate feelings and thoughts rather than on internal monologue. This makes the writing more showy (vs. telly), more interesting, and more true to the character. I also have to remember that my readers are smart--I don’t have to spell every emotion out for them.

As I revise my messy ending, I’m going to work on description of setting, action, and physical feelings to indicate my character’s emotions and thoughts. After that, I need to go back through Parts 2-4 focused on the same thing. This could be disheartening, but I find it encouraging. I had been trying to figure out why Part 1 was so much better than the rest, and I think this is why.

Operation: Cut the Internal Monologue commence!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Physical Manifestations of Emotion

I have known for a couple of years now that I have difficulty including sensory detail in my stories. I experience the world through thoughts and thought processes. I don’t necessarily remember how things smell or taste or sound--I remember specific images, dates, and numerical or logical details. I remember what I thought at the time.

For example, a few years ago, I went to an air-show on an especially sunny and hot day, and I got heat exhaustion. I don’t remember how I felt, the heat on my skin, the thirst or anything like that unless I try really hard. What I do remember is thinking, “I feel miserable.” I remember sitting on a concrete floor in a hanger near a table where a dismantled M-16 was on display thinking, “All these people probably think I’m weird.” If I try hard, I can remember that everything echoed, I faintly remember cool air coming from somewhere; I vaguely remember the cold concrete floor.

One of my good friends is studying psychology and counseling. When I asked her to read Part 1 of Book Two, she sweetly agreed and has given me insights based on her training. She reminded me that a young man probably wouldn’t be able to articulate his feelings as well as my MC does. She encouraged me to use physical manifestations of emotion rather than just saying, “he was angry” or “he felt sad.” What does being angry feel like? Did his muscles tense or weaken? Did his back ache or his neck hurt? When I mentioned my trouble with recognizing sensory detail in my own life, she suggested sitting still and quiet and counting backwards from ten while focusing on what my body is experiencing.

For any other intuitive rather than sensory writers, I hope you find this helpful. Happy Writing!