We all talk to ourselves from time to time.
You know what I mean: Those moments when you think quick one liners such as:
- What am I doing here?
- Is everybody staring at me?
- I can’t breathe. I. Can’t. Breathe.
And then there are the times we’re in our heads for minutes, maybe a half hour or more. Mulling. Debating. Remembering something like a first kiss . . . or saying goodbye.
As writers, we let our characters do the same thing. We get in their heads — let our readers get in their heads. Sometimes for just a moment. And sometimes our characters become ve-ery introspective. The scene . . . the thoughts . . . it’s all from inside our POV character’s head.
I’m thinking, I’m thinking, I’m thinking . . .
The question is: How much is too much — or rather, how much introspection is too long?
When I’m rewriting a manuscript, I always look for scenes where I’m in my character’s head too long. Where my character is thinking, thinking, thinking for one third of the scene or longer. To get my character out of their head, I ask myself:
Who can my POV character talk to?
HINT: This lines up with author Rachel Hauck’s wisdom to “Tell the story between the quotes.”
Get a conversation going. Get someone else in the room with your character — and yes, you may have to change your setting to do this. If your character is driving, have them activate their Bluetooth and call their closest friend and talk out what they’re feeling, what they’re dealing with, rather than just thinking about it. How about this: bring the very person you’re character is trying to avoid onto the scene. (Just a thought, but oh, what fun you could have!)
In my my upcoming novella, You Can’t Hurry Love, I have a scene where my heroine is stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic — everyone’s trying to get out of town for the Christmas holidays. And yeah, she’s thinking about a lot of stuff that is pertinent to the story. On my rewrites, I have her call her best friend and have a conversation. Same information — but she’s out of her head, no longer just thinking her own lonely thoughts. Much more active storytelling — and a much stronger scene.
So what about you and the story you’re working on? Are there any scenes that can be rewritten by getting your POV character out of their head and into a conversation with someone else?
[Tweet “REWRITING: 1 Tip for Getting Out of Your Character’s Head by @bethvogt”]