Writing Tip of the Month: Introspection

Good writing is smooth writing. It immerses the reader in the story without distraction of interruption. If you want color, variety, or any other attention grabbing device, do it with the content, not the mechanics. Internal dialogue, as opposed to introspection, is a blazing example of roughshod mechanics. Both, of course, show the thoughts of the viewpoint character. The difference is, internal dialogue is still dialogue and must be shown as that with quotation marks and narrative tags.  Example: “She makes a good point,” John said to himself. “I wish I could do as well.” Or, the big bump in the reading path: italics. She makes a good point. I wish I could do as well. Introspection would read: She made a good point.  John wished he could do as well. Note that the internal dialogue not only jerks the reader from past tense to present, it jerks him from third person to first, and changes font all at the same time. Introspection does none of those. I have heard more than one agent or editor express that the use of internal dialogue is an indication of a novice writer who has yet to learn the use of good introspection.

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