When I saw what I'd noted on the calendar for myself, I groaned. Partly because this is a tendency I've just started noticing in my own writing, which means it's a mistake I'm sure I made in the Skylar Hoyt series.
And pointing out a flaw that's in my published books brings up the same emotions as when I was 12 and swimming in a pond at a party. I ripped the butt of my bathing suit on a rock. Part of me wanted to cry, "No one look! I just ripped my bathing suit!" Of course you know you're just drawing attention to it...
But I guess now is a great time for us to all be reminded that writing is something at which we never fully arrive. We will always be growing and improving in our craft.
Okay, I'm 135 words into this post and still haven't identified the topic. Which is:
Inner monologue can be a form of telling.
Likely many of us have heard the advice, "Show the story instead of just telling it." Just so I know we're all on the same page. This (in the red) is telling something:
I felt so mad at my brother. "Britt, you give that back!"
And this is showing it:
My fingernails bit into my palm. "Britt, you give that back."
Those are the semi-easy ones to spot in your manuscript. But did you know that sometimes you can use your point of view character's inner monologue as a form of telling? Because I didn't.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. (Again, problem area marked in red.)
“I didn’t know your mom was ever married,” Sandi says.
Sandi colors. “Oh.”
It had happened in her "hippie days," as Mom puts it. Mom says they were practically over when she found out she was pregnant with me. He stuck with her through pregnancy and the first few months of my life. But Mom said it was obvious he didn’t want kids, and she was tired of winter. So she moved back to Orlando.
"I wasn't exactly a planned child." I force a smile and sip my coffee. “We don’t have to talk about it.”
Is that an unforgivable way to write that information? No. Will it get you rejected by agents and editors? Unless you're doing it constantly, no.
So, it's okay ... but it could be done better.
One way to improve it is put it in quotes.
Sandi colors. “Oh.”
“I happened in her ‘hippie days,’ as she puts it. Mom says they were practically over when she found out she was pregnant with me. He stuck with her through pregnancy and the first few months of my life, but..." I shrug. "Mom said it was obvious he didn’t want kids, and she was tired of winter. So she moved back here.”
Sandi's blue eyes are round and unblinking. “I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard you talk about yourself.”
I force a smile and sip my coffee. “We don’t have to talk about it anymore.”
If Sandi already knew this piece of information about the POV character, that wouldn't work. ("Well, as I've probably told you before, Sandi, my conception happened in her 'hippie days'....")
When you're in situations like that, you can do the inner monologue with the dialogue lead in thing:
"Well, it's not like my mom planned to have me."
Sandi colors. "Oh, right."
I happened in Mom's "hippie days," as she puts it....
Inner monologue is necessary, of course. You need it in balance with your dialogue and action and all that other good stuff. But when I'm editing, I have to keep an eye on my point of view character's inner monologue to be sure I'm not squeezing in any of that lazy "telling."
Quick reminder - writing contest entries are due tomorrow, so get those turned into me.
Also, we were so touched by the flood of "thanks" that came in when we celebrated hitting 400 followers by giving away 4 writer prize packs. The winners of the prize packs were Daniel, Jill, Patti, and Sky!
Have a great Wednesday, everyone!