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Get Out of My Head Charles!

Here's a question not necessarily meant to get comments, but get you thinking.

How much into the character's mind do you present to the audience?

When reading works adapted from TV or film to the written word (and comics), often the writers provide the internal processes of main characters who we otherwise only have visual emotional cues to work with. Rather than describing a character's face per se, we're getting prose that tells of the character's true emotional process.

I'm usually uncomfortable over this as I feel it detracts from the character, who before I only knew about what came out of his or her mouth or played across his or her face. This tactic I usually receive as muddying a character's voice.

This can also apply to original characters. Haven't you ever read someone who you wish was just a bit more mysterious in the text? Less "Caroline blinked rapidly, fear charging through her as she asked herself, 'What have I done?'" and more "Caroline was stone-faced, blinking quickly and her lips creasing into a slight frown as sweat broke out on her forehead." I feel an external showing is better than an internal telling.

How about you? How much of your character's internals do you show?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
queenofzan
Sep. 15th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
For me, it really depends on the type of story and the characters. A more actiony story really doesn't need all the character's thoughts and feelings explained, but a more thinky literary story might.
bombshellcat
Sep. 15th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Depends on what I am writing. I tend to write a fairly close third- but more of a "sitting on their shoulder" third than a "in their head" third. I guess I prefer observation, which also carries over with my first person narratives now that I am thinking about it.
henada
Sep. 15th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
I've been working on a story and been thinking the same thing. Unsure of what to do exactly, I've been combining the two.

Its especially hard because my main characters motivations are supposed to be obscure. But sometimes I worry that, just describing the physical reactions of the person, I don't get my point across.

It's a slippery slope, I think.

Edited at 2009-09-15 01:29 am (UTC)
epiphanyx7
Sep. 15th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
It really depends on whether I'm writing a limited or omniscient POV. If I'm writing the narration as omniscient, I'd rather exclude all of the internal-processing and emotional description as I can. If I'm writing in a limited 3rd, then I will try and add a little bit of the character's internal observations.

For me, I can't have EVERY character's internal emotions/motivations known -- because when I am reading something, I prefer to have that anticipation of not knowing how a character will react. When writing, I try and do this by writing strictly from one character's point of view -- and thus, while Caroline's mind may be screaming Run Away none of the other characters will ever have their thoughts described. Same for physical sensations.

When I write in a 3rd-limited, it's as limiting to me as writing in first person. And when I write in 3rd-omniscient, it's equally limiting because I can switch between characters and settings, but I can't EVER describe their emotions.

Sometimes, I find that it's very -- compelling, to use an outright statement. Staring straight ahead, John realized he'd never been more terrified in his entire life.

Other times, I like being able to contrast the actions/dialogue with the 'truth'. "I have no idea what you're talking about," John lied.

If I'm writing first/second/third-limited, then I tend to include more of the internal processing for the main character, but stick to strict observation for the other characters. if I'm writing in 3rd-omniscient, I like to stick to almost pure observation and noticeable emotional states, but I'm exclude all of the "What have I done?" internal thought processes.

I probably haven't articulated myself as well as I'd like, but you DID get me thinking.
nanashi_jones
Sep. 15th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
I probably haven't articulated myself as well as I'd like, but you DID get me thinking.

Mwa-ha-ha. My evil plans are working.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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