At a recent writing workshop with Michael Bracken, he said that long internal monologues are deadly.
That threw me a little. I have been trying to write close third person point-of-view (POV), where the reader really rides in the POV person’s head. Think what they think, feel what they feel. Have the POV feelings, thoughts, reactions. I believe that is good. I believe what Michael meant was writing like this:
John looked at the cheerleader and thought, She is looking at me. But was she looking at me? The real me? Did she see the brilliant, superior, future one-percenter, new breed of humanity who is the only perfect guy for her standing right in front of her who just complemented her on her makeup? Surely she could see past the pit-stains on my Batman t-shirt, and my uneven beard stubble (which is uneven because when I shave I am distracted by my smug handsome chubby face), and the scratch on my Superman belt buckle, no, wait, the buckle is covered by my dunlap. You know, my belly done lap over my belt? Anyway. People tell me I should lower my standards, date within my means, and take a bath more than once a week, but I deserve a beautiful blonde with long legs and proud bosom and an Einstein brain because I am me and there is only one of me in the entire universe, if you do not count parallel dimensions. Huh, she’s walking away from me, maybe I am better off without her although I never really had her in the first place but I would have if she had the intellectual patience to wait for me to finish my brilliant internal monologue, maybe I should reread my well-worn Atlas Shrugged book for John Galt’s forty page radio broadcast on how he was right to genocide humanity for making him pay his taxes, now there’s brilliant monologue and a perfect role model…
Michael also said don’t write crap. Do not turn off your internal editor and just vomit whatever is in your head onto the page. (See above monologue.) Yeah, I know this is nanowrimo month, which I love, where writers write first drafts of the Great American Novel. FAST! No editing, just get it out there NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!!!
But I agree with Michael. I am trying to write better first drafts. I recently started a short story, then read it, and there was no emotion in there at all. So who the heck will care? Just because I am writing a first draft does not mean I should write stuff I will toss later, it has to FEEL!!! (The Alfred Hitchcock influence on me.)
It is a balancing act. You do not get a first draft done if you pre-edit it to death. But you want to write something you can stand to read and rewrite. I think the problem was my outline. I’ll likely post on my evolving outlining process later.
P.S. Just had Thanksgiving dinner with some family. I showed my example of too much internal dialogue to my nephew Mark. He said that is the sort of thing that is more fun to write that it is to read. He hit the nail on the head. That is good advice for any writer.