Interior Dialogue is a great tool for mystery writers. It’s a tool writers use to depict a character’s non-verbal thoughts. Non-verbal thoughts allow the reader to gain an in-depth understanding of a character. Here are some effective uses for this versatile tool:
• Reveal backstory without stopping the flow of plot. The action and setting in a story can evoke character memories of past events and connect them with present ones.
Nambeko lingered next to her ill brother for several minutes and studied his face. With light fingers, she traced the smile lines on each side of his mouth, signs of his perpetual good humor. As a child her ruthless teasing never angered him. Now she wished she had treated him with the kindness he deserved.
• Private reactions to surroundings. When a character finds himself in an exciting, uncomfortable or wonderful environment, internal dialogue can express his feelings.
Sam eyed the elegant chandelier, rich draperies and plush carpet. Why had he accepted the invitation? He didn’t belong here. This whole thing was a disastrous mistake. He determined to escape at the first opportunity.
• Contrast spoken dialogue and true feelings. As in real life, people don’t always express their true feelings. In fact, they often verbalize a completely opposite view. Internal dialogue can alert readers to a character’s true feelings.
She took a substantial bite of the meatloaf and grinned. “Another culinary triumph,” she said. She didn’t add that it would be a perfect recipe for dog food.
• Show the emotional state of a character. Secrets, doubts, fears, insecurities, hopes all impact the emotional state of a character. The character can reveal these feelings to readers through internal dialogue.
He gave himself a sharp mental kick for making the remark. Was it too forward, too presumptuous, too uncouth? Did he detect coolness in her voice? He hoped she hadn’t considered his remark too boorish.
Internal dialogue is a great tool for mystery writers. The possibilities are endless.
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