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I want to write a protagonist that thinks as I do; that is to say, without any inner monologue. I don't even think in images either. It's just abstract thoughts for me. If a place reminds me of my childhood home, I just know it does.

But is it possible to even convey this in text?

When I was younger I always thought all these internal dialogues that characters would have in books and movies were just a creative tool used to convey their thoughts. I didn't realize most people actually had them. And looking back now, I think it may be the only way to actually convey thoughts.

This also brings into the question of explicitly and implicitly stating thoughts. The former is obviously a case of inner dialogue, something like:

The door... it feels familiar somehow

But what about the latter? Is it just a matter of careful word choice to avoid implying an internal monologue? I'm not too sure, and I don't know if it's even possible to write a character like this, especially in text.

Apologies if this question is confusing. I'm not quite sure how to word everything here correctly.

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  • Do most people have an internal monologue? I have one inconsistently but a lot of the time it's feelings and abstract thoughts, as you say. I also usually consider implicitly stated thoughts as interpreted versions of what the character is thinking, which may not involve words at all, and wouldn't assume an internal monologue unless the writer is going to lengths to make it look like one.
    – Tau
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 13:25
  • There are writing styles like this. I forget the technical term, but the way I remember it is "Third Person Roaming Camera" which is basically the narration covers only that which could be detected by human sense, and typically will translate very well to a TV, Stage, or Film adaptation (since the most consistently used senses for humans are sight and sound, taste, touch, and smell still need to be conveyed through some kind written narration or spoken dialog and rely on the audience having a frame of reference for these, since these three senses are qualia dependent.
    – hszmv
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 14:56

1 Answer 1

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You can write this in terms of feelings, and utterances, you don't have to write any thoughts.

After all, clearly you can form sentences. In some cases, you can substitute an external dialogue.

Later, walking alone on the trail, Jack felt something was wrong, his mind couldn't quite settle on the problem, he just felt like Jill's excuse couldn't be right.

Finally he spoke. "Wait, last year she told me her Aunt Alice died, that's why she had to go to Chicago. Now Aunt Alice is ill?"

Or, you put that in terms of an epiphany:

Finally, the mental fog cleared. Jill told him last year her Aunt Alice had died, and went to Chicago for a month. And now Aunt Alice is ill? An unformed feeling of suspicious dread washed through him. Jill spends April in Chicago, and lies to him about why.

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