Friday, May 6, 2011

Internal Dialogue

Week of May 1—He Said, She Said—Dialogue in Picture Books
Friday, May 6—Internal Dialogue

I’ve enjoyed this week as we’ve delved into dialogue. I’ve learned tons as I’ve searched through the writing of some of my favorite authors. But— TGIF! Aren’t you glad the weekend is almost here? I sure am. Since it’s Friday and you’re probably as exhausted as me, this post will be short, sweet, and to the point.

Today let’s look at internal dialogue. By internal dialogue I mean the thoughts and feelings of characters. Take this line from one of my manuscripts:

What do those old women know about pirates? Bartholomew thought.

Internal dialogue is a conscious thought of a character and often deals with emotions or feelings. But internal dialogue is really not dialogue—there’s no conversation going on. For that reason, the normal rules for dialogue are not followed. No quotation marks needed here, instead use italics for the character’s thoughts. (I will admit occasionally you see internal dialogue punctuated in different ways, but ital seems to be preferred by most authors and editors.) Now if I had written the line above and added Bartholomew said to himself, I would fall back on the normal dialogue punctuation.

“What do those old women know about pirates?” Bartholomew said to himself.

The distinction between the two examples above is a fine line. So be aware that there may be a difference in opinions out there in the real world of picture books.

Since I’ve spent a lot of time this week admiring Tammi Sauer’s writing, let’s end the week with another of her books. I believe Cowboy Camp was Tammi’s first picture book and she uses internal dialogue throughout the story to show the conflicted feelings of her main character, Avery. Here are two examples . . .

   Everyone dug in. It wasn’t but a minute later that Avery discovered he couldn’t stomach a single bite of cowboy food. He had to eat cheese and crackers instead. Whoever heard of a cowboy who didn’t like grits and beans? he thought.

   Everyone started twistin’ and twirlin’ their lassos. It wasn’t a minute later that Avery discovered he had a bad case of rope burns. He had to practice with yarn instead. Whoever heard of a cowboy who got rope burns? he thought.

From: Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer and Mike Reed

In honor of all of the cowboys out there, I won’t beat a dead horse! You get the idea. Internal dialogue reveals the thoughts and feelings of a character and is usually punctuated by putting the thought in italics.

It’s Your Turn!
1. Look back at the manuscript you are currently revising. Are you using internal dialogue? Would it/could it be helpful to do so? If you are using internal dialogue, have you punctuated it correctly?

1 comment:

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I used internal dialogue in the chapter book I'm finishing up. I haven't used it in a picture book.

Tammi is a master!