Monday, January 19, 2009

Interior Monologue

interior monologue--the soliloquy/conversation a character has while engaged in a dramatic narrative; relevant sensory and thought process from which readers may adduce and deduce a character's intent, motivation and, if necessary, doubt; a supplement to narrative from any point-of-view character, simultaneously advancing story and developing the reader's familiarity with the narrator.

Unless the design of a story allows or calls for the intervention of authorial comment, all narrative is seen as originating with the point-of-view character. Thus "John was waiting at the mailbox for at least a half hour before the mailman arrived," while yet simple narrative,becomes translated by the reader to extend beyond mere stage directions, spilling over to reflect John's eagerness to get what he anticipates will be included in today's delivery. To add an intensifier of interior monologue to the narrative, the writer might render, "Was today the day it would arrive, John wondered." And to nail it all down with dialogue, John might well greet the mailman with the spoken observation, "You're running late today."

Interior monologue is thought process; in order to be successfully dramatic, it must be made to seem action based. The best way to accomplish this step is to tie the can of consequence to the tail of the thought. Would she ever get here, he wondered. Would she recognize him after all this time?

A handy tip for the writer: Consider all narrative as originating from the particular character of point-of-view focus, using his or her vocabulary, biases, blind spots, range of sensory awareness. If that character is a particularly thoughtful person, the door is open for that character to think consequence-related thoughts. Would this work? Would she truly see the intended affection in his gift of daisies, or would she turn out to draw the line at roses? The hell with it. He liked daisies. If she couldn't see the beauty in them, what future was there in a relationship with her?


pace--the momentum with which a story progresses; the cadence in which dramatic beats appear for the characters and readers to respond.

Remember, dramatic writing is the result of characters reacting to stimuli. Even a character on stage alone is responding to past events, making plans for future ones--perhaps even by playing a waiting or delaying game. Stories that move at too slow a pace will make the reader impatient for something to happen. Stories that move too quickly take on a jerky, frenetic quality that turns moments of potential poignancy or suspense into farce. Comedy is tragedy sped up.


one character on stage alone--a condition where a single character reviews past relevant dramatic events prior to making a choice; a moment where one character waits for one or more associates; a dramatic cross-roads where a character lays out plans for a future event as a means of foreshadowing the event and its consequences.

Characters in film, TV, or stage dramas have recourse to the device of voice-over, in which the audience can hear them "thinking" aloud. The danger here is that the thoughts will seem to be reader feeder (See), "thought" for the convenience of the audience, undercutting the realism of more literary work in which characters do not do favors for the audience so much as they are propelled by their own agendas.

A film, TV, or stage actor is often an exquisitely tuned instrument, able to convey feelings and impressions with mere gestures, inflections of posture; characters are not necessarily so well-tuned and must be nudged, even prodded by the weight of events. A character left alone for too long has only one way out--in thought, which leads to one of the great cliches of written story: "She began to wonder how it had all begun, how she'd let herself get into this mess..."

One of the safer ways for a character to be alone comes when the character is somewhere he or she should not be, a situation enhanced by the accelerated risk of discovery. "What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here."

Shakespeare addressed the problem by keeping his soliloquies short, bringing them in at about thirty seconds, when another character came on stage. In arguably one of his most famous soliloquies, Hamlet is considering a serious act with a serious consequence, his friends Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern on stage at a distance all the while.The inner committee, comprised of representatives who claim to be legitimatge aspects of your personhood, often reminds you of a publisher's editorial committee, looking for excuses to reject, wanting to keep losses down, willing to gamble on established projects from established producers rather more than being willing to take chances.

Yes, they are that way; it is a necessary condition. You are thus freequently whipsawed by your committee, all for being of an anarchistic nature, your goal being to keep at your composing until you have learned at least one tangible thing.

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