Yesterday, I asked the ladies to post pieces of interior monologue from one of their male characters so we could give a little friendly advice on whether their guys are thinking like real guys.
Hunting for a monologue proved harder than I thought – most of what I found was blatant telling of emotion, and that’s got to go! Now I’m on a manuscript hunt to find and kill all descriptions of the emotion I’ve already showed (or haven’t showed yet).
What, by the way, constitutes a true monologue? Is it the POV character’s description of events, or action, or his feelings/thoughts? And when does monologue cease to be monologe and become telling, or vice versa? What is a good size for said monologue – can a monologue be only a couple sencences long or is that just a beat?
Randy sez: We’ve discussed interior monologue here on the blog a few months ago. It’s the thoughts that go through a character’s mind that the reader gets to peek in on. It can be shallow (summarizing what he’s thinking) or medium (telling what he’s thinking, but not exactly in his words) or deep (telling it EXACTLY the way he’s thinking it).
Yes, interior monologue is best done in short snippets. One or two sentences is fine. When you start going paragraphs at a time in interior monologue, you start losing readers unless you’re brilliant at it.
Camille posted this example:
A week later, Ian still had no idea what he was going to do about his trip and his obstinate grannie. He sat in the cottage kitchen again, staring at the telephone, hammering his brain for a solution. But all he could think of was their new minister running down the drive as fast as his bony legs would carry him, with Maggie on his heels, glinting blade in hand.
God, tell me again why I’m here?
He kept staring at the telephone as though the Almighty would ring with an answer. Maybe pounding his head against the wall would silence the nagging doubts—doubts about moving back here and trying to help a mule-headed old woman who battled him every step of the way.
But deep down, he already knew why. This was where God wanted him.
Randy sez: This is fine. I don’t get the idea that Ian’s a woman in man’s clothing here.
Donna posted this example from her historical novel:
I’ve known Christophe since we were young and he has been and remains my closest friend, the only one I told about the Houghtons. Even now I don’t think he fully understands my desire to find my heritage. He says that my heritage is the homestead and that if the Houghtons had had family anywhere in England that my birth mother would have insisted I be taken to them after her death instead of giving me to the Blays to raise as their own as well as giving them the farm. That point has confused me too but I can’t help the burning desire to find where they came from and whatever details I can gleen about them.
I can’t even answer as to why I kept travelling north, only that it was like some force calling me there. I can’t explain it except to say that it must have to do with Erandin. Whether or not that is where either had come from I still do not know. What I do know is that as soon as I arrived in Erandin, I felt as though I had been there before, even though I haven’t been. It was like stepping into one of the dreams I had as a child.
Randy sez: What I see here are a lot of longish sentences. These days, that’s more characteristic of women than men. I’m not sure if that’s true in the time period Donna’s writing for. Since the readers are going to be moderns, it might make sense to break these up some.
The other thing I noted was the word “desire.” That strikes me as a word that women are more likely to use than men. If someone says, “I desire that,” I’d bet odds of 3 to 1 that the speaker is a woman. It’s a minor point, but I think it shades the passage a bit “pink.” A modern guy would say, “I want that.”
The final point I’d like to make is this: “Use action verbs!” Men, on average, tend to be more proactive and forceful. Sure, there are lots who aren’t, but the manly guy goes out to kick butt. In the passage above, I’d say the guy wants to “dig up info,” not “glean details.”
Lynn posted this snippet:
Raktavio’s mind wandered over the past weeks, from the time he met Gratia, to the command to marry her, and then it lingered over the time in the dungeon of Selvz’ Temple at Ekentav. In the darkness of that dungeon, he discovered his loyalty to her was more than duty. Oh, she could gall him. The corner of his mouth lifted at the memory. Somehow, though, she had captured his heart.
Agh! He pounded his knees. He had done his duty to the King. Why had not the Mountain Lion protected them last night? Shaking his head, he stood up. This is not how a King’s Knight should act, let alone one titled Prince.
Randy sez: I see a couple verbs that could be stronger: “wandered” and “lingered.” These are not what I sometimes jokingly call “manly verbs.” Manly guys don’t wander and linger. They know where they’re going and they don’t mess around when they get there.
Pounding the knees is a good “manly” action. Overall, this passage is reasonably manly, but I think you can punch up a couple of verbs there.
Here was Lynda’s snippet:
He caught her wrist as she stood. “I’ve seen that guy—Ir—hanging around. Is he the problem?”
“Jae, I really need to go.”
He released her and watched her limp up the path. It was true. He placed his head in his hands. His heart ached. Bad.
Randy sez: I think that “caught” could be made a little more “manly.” Can he “grab” it? Or “snatch” it? And “placed” is a little weak too. Can he “clutch” his head?