I is for Internal Dialog – Alphabet Challenge
“I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me; I talk to the stars, but they never hear me!” (“Paint Your Wagon,” 1969.) If you’re talking to trees and stars, aren’t you really having an internal dialog? And how important is a character’s internal dialog?
Some characters simply think more than others. And, for them, it’s a good idea to reference their thought process. Other characters are more action-oriented, and maybe we want to see their thought process, but not to such a great extent. They are doers, not thinkers.
When you read internal dialog, a character can be pretty sarcastic, even dismissive, of other characters without taking a chance on reprisals. And yet, we get a good idea of exactly how much disdain s/he holds for others, and often for her/himself. Using internal dialog helps fill out a character, every bit as much as the character’s actions.
I’ve read books where there is so much internal dialog, the reader (me, in this case) feels like they’re only in the characters’ heads, and not in the moment of the plot. For me, that’s disappointing. I don’t need to know every, single motivating thought in a character’s mind. How about you? How much internal dialog is too much? When does it become “talking to yourself”?
For your hopping convenience: