Internalization – handout

Internal Dialog: (internalization) A character speaks his thoughts to himself; internal monologue.

Sometimes she couldn’t count on things. Like her body warning her of changes in the weather. Like people she’d known for years in the community ending their years here.

Direct Internalization: A character’s thoughts given directly, word for word, in present tense and first person.

The bulb on her sewing machine flickered. Well, perfect!

Introspection: Conveying the character’s own thoughts, feelings, and sensations, internal inspection.

They’d had a tense phone conversation last night. He was one of the finest specialized elder lawyers in the country and she was proud of him. But he didn’t know what was right for every older person. Specifically not her. He’d ruffled her feathers with his pushiness and determination to make her see his way. He just wouldn’t back down on his crazy notion of her selling Forever More Manor and moving to Dallas with him.

Purposes of Internalization

Get the reader to identify with and empathize with the POV character.

            She’d been so happy there during those summers of her youth. Now days she couldn’t even say that she was “happy,” just crazy busy.

Reveal emotional depth.

            Rubbing her fingers over the crayoned area, she knew that no matter how packed her schedule was, she

would be going to the birthday party.

Help to establish internal conflicts.

She’d been away from home for over two months this time. If her agent had had her way, Lorraine would be re-packing and heading out on a new assignment tomorrow. All that she’d taken on this year weighed her down. It seemed to be sucking the life right out of her. She needed a break. Most days, she loved her work as a travel photo journalist.

Gives the POV character’s slant on the setting, other characters, the situation, conflict, and emotional ties.

She sat on the porch swing of her modest cottage in Mendocino, California, barely noting the waves brushing the shore nearby. (setting)

All seven of the widowed friends who lived together were well past seventy, including her much-loved Aunt Mildred. They were young at heart and had more energy than most people half their age. (characters)

She glanced down at the invitation in her hand. The ladies of More Manor had invited her to a special celebration they were having for Rose Cunningham’s ninetieth birthday. (situation)

She’d been away from home for over two months this time. If her agent had had her way, Lorraine would be re-packing and heading out on a new assignment tomorrow. (conflict)

Just thinking about them made her smile, lightened her spirit. She adored them all. She missed them.

She hadn’t realized how much until she opened the cheery yellow envelope, addressed to her in bright pink crayon. (emotional ties)

Mechanics of Writing Internalization

  • Never use quotation marks around a character’s thoughts.
  • Use italicized text ONLY for direct internal thoughts spelled out word for word, written in first person, present tense. Do NOT tag internalized thoughts.

Don’ts of Internalization

  • Too much internalization slows down the story.
  • Too little makes the character read thin, risking closeness between the character and the reader.
  • Leave off the “he thought” or “she thought” when deep in the character’s head.