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This week: Interior MonologueEdited by: Joy
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"A good creation is a real, three-dimensional character who stands up of his own accord and can cast a shadow."
"I can ease my heart inside another character's until I feel what he or she feels and think the way he or she thinks."
"It might seem that the writer needs a gift of mimicry, like an impersonator, to achieve this variety of voices. But it isn't that. It's more like what a serious actor does, sinking self in character-self. It's a willingness to be the characters, letting what they think and say rise from inside them. It's a willingness to share control with one's creation."
Ursula K. Le Guin
"Novelists may wish to indulge the worst kind of totalitarian whims directed against the freedom of their characters. But often as not, they scheme in vain, for characters always manage to evade one's all-seeing eye long enough to think thoughts and utter dialogue one could never have come up with if plot were all there were."
Hello, I am Joy , this week's drama editor. In this issue, we are going to focus on a writing tool, the interior monologue.
Welcome to the Drama newsletter
Did you ever wish, as an author or a reader, to have an x-ray vision into a character's heart and mind? One good tool for doing just that is the interior monologue.
As a dramatic writing tool, interior monologue lets the reader look into the character's thoughts and feelings from a close-up view as if using a photographic lens with a short focal length. Much of what we think about can be considered our interior monologue, as thought follows thought, whether we want these thoughts or not.
In any dramatic work, being privy to the interior monologue lets the reader and the writer understand a character better. If the interior monologue is direct, the character's thoughts and feelings are presented directly. In step with the present-day understanding, we put the direct interior monologue in italics for lack of a better way to show it. In the earlier decades, italics were not used, and it was up to the reader to figure out from the flow of the text that it was the character doing the thinking and the feeling.
An example of today's style of punctuating direct interior monologue: To find a better job, I must remember to buy finer clothes, she thought.
And an example to the way it was punctuated in the earlier times:
"Stephen bent forward and peered at the mirror held out to him, cleft by a crooked crack. Hair on end. As he and others see me. Who chose this face for me? This dogsbody to rid of vermin. It asks me too."
From Ulysses by James Joyce (First Serialized from 1914 to 1921)
If the interior monologue is indirect, that is if it is narrated by a narrator or if the story is told from the third person point of view, to show the thoughts, italics are not used because the indirect monologue allows the reader and the writer to be simultaneously outside and inside of the character. This being inside and outside of a character was invented by Gustave Flaubert.
"At last he began to think it was all a joke; someone's spite, the jest of some wag; and besides, if she were dead, one would have known it. But no! There was nothing extraordinary about the country; the sky was blue, the trees swayed; a flock of sheep passed. He saw the village; he was seen coming bending forward upon his horse, belabouring it with great blows, the girths dripping with blood."
From Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (First Publication 1856)
Here's another example of the indirect interior monologue from a recent work.
"He recognized that to conventional people for whom everything was ready-made and rigidly unalterable what he was doing would never look correct. But to dare to be nothing more than correct had never been his aim. The objective was for his fate to be determined not by the ignorant, hate-filled intentions of a hostile world but, to whatever degree humanly possible, by his own resolve. Why accept a life on other terms?"
From The Human Stain by Philip Roth (Copyright 2000)
Interior monologues pour out sometimes in a stream of consciousness, taking several forms such as dramatized inner conflicts, imagined dialogue, rationalization, and self-analysis. Stream of consciousness occurs when thoughts come as random as they can. Some free verse poetry, especially prose-poems, use the stream of consciousness tool effectively. T.S. Eliot's The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock is a good example for the stream of consciousness poem.
The term stream of consciousness comes from The Principles of Psychology by William James to describe the continuous, associative nature of thoughts. Most writers, while using this tool, omit punctuation to show this process of constant movement and to emphasize that the mind, while thinking, does not edit anything.
Here is another example from Joyce's Ulysses. Joyce was one of the early users of the stream of consciousness.
"Where is my hat, by the way? Must have put it back on the peg. Or hanging up on the floor. Funny, I don't remember that. Hallstand too full. Four umbrellas, her raincloak. Picking up the letters, Drago's shopbell ringing. Queer, I was just thinking that moment."
Another example of the stream of consciousness is from a more contemporary poet Reetika Vazirani, It's a Young Country Copyright 2002.
"We leave for a better job
cross the frontier wish you
were here in this hotel Two of us one
we are with John Keats on his cot
in the lone dictionary I'm falling
on dilemma's two horns
If you are seducing another
teach me to share you with humor
Water in my bones and the sound
of a midnight telephone..."
Wishing you much success and a colorful fall season.
Until next time...
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Your Drama Newsletter Editors: Adriana Noir Fyn-feeling Elfish Joy
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This Issue's Tip:
Characters, especially in longer works, always do three things: 1. Looking back, remembering where they have been. 2. Assessing where they are and what they are doing 3. Looking ahead, making plans, and imagining possible actions and reactions.
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