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Guest Post: Transform introspection into dialogue–Nancy Werlin

Young adult author Nancy Werlin is co-faculty, along with Sarah Aronson and A.M. Jenkins, at our Whole Novel Workshops. We asked Nancy to share a writing tip with us:

Forcing the reader to spend too much time in your main character’s head can get dull for the reader. Break it up! Look for scenes where your main character is thinking, but there are other people in the room. Then see if you can transform some of the internal introspection into dialog.

Here’s a sample transformation from the suspense thriller I’m working on right now.

BEFORE
It might still work out, you tell yourself. If Hunter’s stepfather is a real ally, not a trap. Although that leaves you, best case, depending on a stranger. A stranger your dad will be keeping an eye on. It’s not worth the risk. You grit your teeth. Money, you think. That’s all you need. Just money.

AFTER
You’ve got the broom; Antoine’s got the dustbin. Your eyes meet and it’s as if he’s read your mind.

He says, “This might be better. If Hunter’s stepfather is a real ally.”

“It might also be a trap,” you say. “Best case, we’re depending on a stranger.” A stranger your dad knows and is probably keeping an eye on.

“Maybe Hunter’s stepfather will give us cash,” Antoine says.

You sweep crumps into Antoine’s dustbin. You don’t care about Hunter’s stepfather. You don’t see him and his information, or his cash, or whatever he might have, as being worth the risk.

If there are no other characters present, you’re not necessarily stuck. Ask yourself if it would work to have the main character talk aloud, or to the dog, or even to an inanimate object.

The point is simply not to have long stretches of introspection.

Posted on: January 7, 2015

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