Is there a commonly accepted - or expected - way for handling a passage where a broken innner monologue is interspersed with thoughts that do not quite qualify as an 'inner conversation'? For example

She felt angry. "He could have told her earlier" So why had he not done so?

"Just how naive are you?" she chided herself.

"He used you and then cast you aside when he tired of you." Had she not known all along that he would do so sooner or later?

"Think, girl; think!" She would have refused to go along with his ideas if she had known earlier!

"So you only have yourself to blame and no right to be angry! she thought.

I could pack everything here into one paragraph. I have played with using ellipses in a single paragraph but the effect is not quite to my liking. I find that the disjointed nature of the inner conversation does not come across and the text feels harder to read.


1 Answer 1


Two important ideas to keep in mind are the difference between Character Thought and Narrative. In your examples, I believe you are intending to use narrative to communicate some information while also sharing your character's thoughts, but they read to me as a mishmash of different ways of showing the character's thoughts.

Just like dialogue, there is Direct and Indirect Thought. Direct Thought is the literal thoughts of the character -- by convention shown in italics without quotes and written in the present tense (independent of the tense of the piece.) Weras, Indirect Thought are not the literal thoughts of a character, but conveys the gist of the character thoughts -- this might be by summarizing the character's thoughts or by unpacking their actual meaning. By convention no quotes or italics, just like other prose, and written in the same tense as the text.

Indirect Thought, like Indirect Speech, comes from the narrator. So something like "A dark and stormy night" has a lot in common with "She felt angry." It's the narrator sharing what is going on with the reader. Both suffer from being simple statements of fact and are not immersive. They have the benefit of being efficient. Effective writing is always about balancing efficiency and immersion. Too efficient and the story is a dont-care while too much immersion is drudgery to read.

Avoid filtering terms when sharing information from a character's POV. Things like felt, thought, simped, feared, as well as depending on 'was' as a verb. These patterns call attention to the reader that a narrator is telling them a story. This defeats the goal of creating an immersive experience where the reader gets absorbed in imagining the story on the page.

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