I wonder what the girl in the picture to the left is thinking. Is she second guessing herself, or remembering her true love, the one not attending the wedding? If only I could know the words she isn't saying I'd understand the photo.
A writing teacher once told me: write as if a camera were mounted on a character's head. If the character can't see, hear, do, feel, or taste then the thought/words can not be included. Good words.
But...what about the picture to the left? I want to know more than this is her wedding day, her bridesmaids are giggling on the other side of the room, and what the foliage smell like through the open window to the right.
As a writer, I want to show a deeper quality to my characters by opening the door to their inner thoughts and entice the reader to become engaged, or side with the character. A character's inner voice paints a story in 3D and in color.
We want our readers to shout at a character when he/she makes a wrong choice or scream something like, "Over there! It's over there!" During this last reading challenge I slammed the book shut because I couldn't bear to read what happened next, obviously the character made the wrong choice. But one minute later I couldn't stand not knowing. I fumbled to find the page because I had to know what really happened.
Inner voice opens the door or turns the camera towards the brain of the character. What is the character thinking and not saying. What does the character want to do/wish he could say instead?
This last week I read Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck and found many examples of inner voice. With Rachel's permission I have included a small sample from this wonderful book to use with each point:
1. page 140
"Um, he dumped me." For a lawyer, Candace could be dense at time.
Although this story is done in third person, this line "for a lawyer, Candace could be dense at time" melted the fence between 1st and third person. It told me Elle's impression of Candace without a lengthy description or dialogue. The inner voice statement should be a short, concise, to the point perspective.
2. page 137/138
Muttering to herself, Elle opened all the blinds, shoved open the windows, and clicked on the fan. By the pitch of the studio's shadow in the grass, she figured it to be late afternoon.
Angela Dooley suing her? What was wrong with that woman?
Obviously something bothered, Elle, she's shoving windows and muttering. The reader is invited into Elle's head to find out why. No letter is suddenly presented, no summons, no phone call to shed light on her agitation, the reader simply steps deep inside Elle's head to gain more than her POV, we feel her heart, her ache.
3. page 5/6
"I won't be long." But the front door was blocked by Huckleberry Johns and his fish tank of eco art. Oh please, not tonight.
The inner voice clarified the problem. We know the door was blocked and Elle couldn't get past. A simple excuse me could have solved the problem, right? Not in this case. Without the tagged on inner voice we wouldn't know Huckleberry needed much more than an "excuse me." He wanted hours of Elle's time.
4. page 39 (scene hint: Elle is house shopping with her fiance.)
"Well, babe, what do you think?" Jeremiah clicked his phone closed and walked toward her.
"It's big. Lovely." Too new, too cold.
Characters can be elusive or seemingly polite, holding back true thoughts then getting hooked into something they don't want. This component of inner voice builds a relationship with the reader. Displaying the sarcastic thought popping into the character's head not only let's the reader stand next to the character, it lets the reader stand in the character's shoes.
Here are some other tips for inner voice:
1. Inner voice is only from the POV character.
2. Inner voice is not intended to be informative-the purpose is to build a relationship with the reader, clarify a problem, feel the character's heart and ache, is always short-concise-to the point.
3. Inner voice is not directional: statements like: walked up the stairs, raked their hair, opened the door, stomped across the room, laughed, cried, etc. All of these tell an outward response which could be a cover-up and not the true feelings of the character.
Inner voice is essential to forming a deep relationship between the reader and the character.
What examples can you share of inner voice?
Last week Angie, my Alley Cat friend, and Jeanne T, an Alley Cat pal joined me in the reading challenge. We had a great time connecting as friends. Won't you join me this week? I chose my next book: House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson. What book would you like to read in the next two weeks? email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Mary lives in Montana with her husband and loves to hear from her three college kids. She writes contemporary Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories.
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