I’m still spinning from the 40th anniversary SCBWI conference in L.A. I had a blast. I caught up with lots of writer and illustrator pals, was dazzled by speakers such as Richard Peck, Judy Blume, David Small, Gary Paulsen (WOW, was his life story ever amazing), Laurie Halse Anderson, Libba Bray, and Norton Juster [who I chatted with during an elevator ride while fawning shamelessly over his The Phantom Tollbooth]. These people are not only amazing writers (some illustrators, as well), but also incredible speakers. How is it possible that some people are graced with so many talents? They enlightened, entertained (not kidding when I say I laughed, I cried….), and mesmerized 1,342 attendees. Seriously amazing.
In a great workshop on voice, editor Krista Marino discussed interior monologue—the often unspoken thinking of a character. Inner thoughts can reveal what a character is considering, feeling, processing, and valuing. Because it can show back-story, attitude, and information about the character, interior monologue opens the door to reader empathy by allowing the reader to get to know a character’s true heart. The novel Speak, Krista reminded us, is a great example of interior monologue.
But how much interior monologue is overkill? Too much can lead to excess telling (and, of course, too much telling rather than showing can ruin a good story). Sometimes interior monologue can not or should not be revealed (the reader may not need to know everything). Sometimes too much interior monologue can get confusing or boring or weigh a story down. Interior monologue is sort of like seasoning—a heavy handed application can ruin the deliciousness.
When you’re writing or reading, what is your take on interior monologue? How much is too much?
I’ll leave you with that question as I go to refill my mug with something caffeinated (I’m still on California time).