Musings on Writing (Another series). One Other Benefit of Being Inside Those Characters.

There is a collection of viewpoints around the idea that a writer of fiction involving action (in its broadest sense) should not spend too long narrating the internal workings of a character particularly when they are engaged in being ‘active’ as it detracts from the flow of that particular interlude.

This is a worthy point. I have read a war fiction where one member of a gun team recounts in two long paragraphs the entire experience of an injustice done to his father while said team member is loading ammunition into the gun, as a very large tank bears down on said team. He was either a very quick talker or it was a very slow tank; the reactions of the the other team members were not recorded. I leave it up to you how you would feel about being partnered with this voluble and probably slowest loader in the army. And yet the book was commercially published and part of a successful series, in which similar diversions took place. We have entered editorial ‘Go Figure’  territory. 

That said internal dialogue or observation from a third party standpoint do play their part in building up tension, in the right context. Such as the journey to an ‘active’ scene; be it physical, verbal or emotional. Or the interlude where the writer and reader are sharing a ‘How does the character get out of this one?’ / ‘What will they do next?’ 

Overall this is a topic which could cover several posts and numerous discussions; leading off to whether ‘that action’ is necessary as it detracts from the character who has become more interesting than the original plot and other compelling  sideroads.     

To go back to the original point though. This can be a challenge when there is more than one major character and a couple of minor characters of some importance. Although angst heavy inner monologues at every turn should be avoided, when scenes involve interactions or individuals taking decisions some internal ‘splaining’ is necessary. (Which is why some books are longer than others).

At the end of the day; chapter or book there is that Other Benefit.

After all of the effort of going into motivations, clarifications, and justifications, after digging deep into presenting the character(s) and all the rest of the sweat….

You can develop a reasonably good sense of self-analysis for those times when things are just not going your way and learn to ride / surf / glide through them. (Although if you have been writing fantasy, a sense proportion about carrying large axes or double handed swords is advisable).

Learn from your characters, some of them are pretty shrewd and thoughtful folk.