30 March 2008

What is He Thinking?

I have a critique partner who often writes the comment "What is he (she) thinking?" in the margins of the submissions she is reviewing. It's a good reminder. As a writer, you should always know what the characters in your scenes are thinking, and your reader should have a good idea what your protagonist is thinking. Sometimes, even unconsciously, we writers get away from our characters' thoughts. Common reasons for this are (1) we are concentrating so much on the plot that we plunge forward with the action and forget everything else; (2) explaining our characters' emotions is too dang difficult, so we cheat and try to leave it to our reader's imagination. 

In many instances, however, leaving out our character's thoughts is a mistake. The advantage of first person or close third person POV is that the reader "becomes" the protagonist. Readers can't become the protagonist they are not in the character's head, following the important thoughts.  And the complex thoughts and emotions are  the most interesting. So go deep and show those thoughts--it may just turn a good story into a great one.


ssas said...

Oddly enough, I have a critique partner who does that, too.

Bernita said...

That's really good advice.

lesleylsmith said...

Wow. It sounds like Dave and Sex have some awesome critique partners. :)
I agree with Bernita: good advice, Dave! You must be a good writer to know so much of this stuff.

David E. Hughes said...

Yeah--every now and then my critique partners give good advice. And now and then, I listen!