Mind Prisons

I recently read an article about not “imprisoning readers in a character’s head.” It was a weird thing for me to consider, since I’m a very balanced writer in that I disperse action, dialogue, thoughts, and descriptions fairly evenly. But apparently, there are people who trap readers in only a character’s thoughts, instead of letting the story happen.

Be careful of this pitfall. If all we’re getting on a page is a character thinking, see how many pages it’s been since there was action or dialogue. If it’s been more than one or two, cut your character short. If that’s hard, then suddenly throw in a line of dialogue that throws your character off that thought train. You can even have your character say that they would have preferred to consider what it was for a longer time but got derailed and would have to go back to it.

Just make sure you have the outside world. If you were only in your head for hours at a time, without anything or anyone else, then you’d probably like to see something different for a while. Your readers are the same way, and they may not be as patient as you are.

Yes, I’m sure you think your character is fascinating and innovative in his/her/its thoughts, but your life is made up of other things and people–don’t trap your character in their own mind. It’s frustrating to readers when there isn’t variety.

So change things up. Let your character have these thoughts if you truly think they are absolutely necessary to the book/series, but don’t let them take over. Break it up. You don’t think of all your best and most interesting stuff at once (Don’t try to tell me that you do), so don’t let your character do something as unrealistic as have a bunch of interesting revelations at once. Let them think it out, have time in between, mull it over, let it go for a while. Let them lie in bed at night thinking but drift off after a page or two. Or even just skip to morning, whether they sleep or not. You can summarize. We don’t need their thought process for everything.

Anyway, here’s the article I’m referring to:


Just take a few minutes to let it settle within you. And then get to editing.

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