1. Kneller
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    Kneller New Member

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    too much internal monologue/emotion in the first person?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Kneller, Nov 15, 2012.

    I'm writing, for the first time, in the first person. It's a little awkward for me, but necessary for this particular story. What I am finding is that I am slipping way too much into writing internal monologue or emotion to convey the story when I really need to be using more dialogue and action. It's almost like this thing is turning into a really long letter, which I am trying to avoid. I catch myself, and rewrite, but it's not really coming out how I would like, mainly because I still get stuck on the protagonist's internal process. Can anyone give any tips to help me break out of this cycle? Thanks.
     
  2. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Read some of Doyle's work, or Poe's, and a few of Bradbury's, which have first person POV's... they do a good job conveying emotion and thoughts at the right time, while also internalizing what they are observing/taking part in... Hemingway has a lot of first person POV's, too...

    That's the best way to find an answer... see it/read it done successfully...

    But also understand that first person allows for a much more intimate experience with the POV in the eyes of the reader, so having a lot of thoughts and reflections isn't always a bad thing, if it's written well...

    A technique I read about some time ago that helps is to try and re-write it in a third person POV... then once that draft is finished, switch it into a first person by adding the necessary pronouns/restructuring the sentences to fit.. and you will end up with a chopped down POV, since third person contains less thoughts/reflection...
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Take a segment that you have already written - maybe a thousand words or so - and try rewriting it in 3rd person limited, where the internal monologue is impossible. Then, if you are still sold on continuing in 1st person, convert your 3rd person limited segment to first person, and add only those internal monologues that are absolutely necessary. But remember that too much internal monologue can over-explain and rob your story of needed tension.

    My current project is a historical novel with a current-day piece of the story. The current day piece is in 1st person, and I have gone back and repeatedly edited just to correct this same problem.

    Good luck.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a little hard to assess without actually seeing what you have written, but yes, you obviously do need to have action and dialogue in your story. I'd suggest taking a look at what you have so far and treating it almost as an outline or notes, and seeing which pieces you can convey through either dialogue or action. I really like writing dialogue, so what thoughts is your character conveying that you might be able to change into a meaningful conversation with another character?
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've had this problem. What I started to realize was that I had to pick and choose moments
    of high feeling and moments where it was toned down and could be summed up in a sentence.
    Just like showing and telling. It's like when a person goes about their day - eating, living,
    moving, thinking - not everything needs a lot of reflection or a lot of emotion. Some
    things are rather mechanically done - even eating. You chew, you swallow, you think vaguely - yum.
    But other than that you go about your business.

    Toss around techniques to make the most of your mc's thoughts vs
    dialogue - for instance contrasting his thoughts vs what he says - He could
    see a co-worker start lusting and then ask super polite - "So, how's your
    husand Liz?" Meaning, she doesn't know his real agenda behind that question.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is one of the most common flaws of first person writing by inexperienced writers. My recommendation is to write it in third person instead, and even then you will have to avoid the temptation of bathing in the main character's thought pool.
     
  7. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    You should read the works of Dashiel Hammett and Ross Macdonald. You'd write similar to a third person, but instead intersperse the word "I" in bits and pieces throughout the story, to establish the narrator is still there. You'll get the hang of it with lots of practice.
     

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