Internal Dialogue- Exposing the Thoughts of Your Character

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By Michelle Lynn Senters-

Today, we are talking about internal dialogue- the thoughts and conversations inside the mind of a character. When I saw the following video, I immediately thought of internal dialogue. The video was made by flying a drone and camera INSIDE a fireworks display. Watch the video and see if you can make a connection between being inside fireworks and being inside the mind.

Wasn’t that extraordinary? Before I saw this footage, I understood fireworks from only one perspective. My perspective was that of a spectator, BELOW the fireworks display. Until now, I never had the perspective of being INSIDE the fireworks.

As I watched the film, I felt like I was personally there. I imagined the rush of wind and the heat of the blasts against my face. I imagined the familiar smell of burnt sulphur and the sound of the explosions. I was INSIDE.

Authors offer the same experience for their readers through the use of internal dialogue. By sharing the inner thoughts of a character, the reader gains a perspective that is highly personal. The reader goes INSIDE the mind and experiences the history, feelings, concerns, and inner conflict of the character.

Use inner dialogue to:

  • convey feelings- anger, fear, excitement, worry, shame, joy, embarrassment, etc.
  • show personality.
  • expose motive for behaviors or growth.
  • show inner conflict when a character is struggling or trying to make a choice.
  • show secret thoughts that other characters in the story are unaware of.
  • show connections between the current situation and past experiences of the character.

Rules of Inner Dialogue:

  • Inner dialogue is sometimes marked with italics. Do not use quotation marks to mark inner dialogue. Quotation marks indicate that something is spoken aloud.
  • Maintain the “voice” of the character

Activity

  1. Look at the faces below. Notice the eyes of the characters and the expressions on their face.
  2. Choose one character that inspires you.
  3. Determine what is happening to the character. What do they see, feel, taste, touch, or smell? How are they feeling? What do they want? What are they experiencing?
  4. Determine what the character is thinking. What conversation is going on in their mind?
  5. WRITE the internal dialogue of the character. Use the character’s VOICE to show feeling and personality. Remember, these are the private thoughts of the character.

Check-In

In the comment section below, write your first name, age, character number, and paragraph of inner dialogue.

Internal dialogue

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Michelle Lynn Senters is the Founder and Director of KIDS ARE WRITERS. She spends her days working as a Reading Interventionist and spends her evenings writing books for children and adults. You can learn more about Michelle HERE and at www.michellelynnsenters.com.

IMPORTANT: Students, NEVER reveal personal information while commenting. NO last names or contact information. I will delete any comments that contain personal information or comments that are inappropriate or off-topic.

26 thoughts on “Internal Dialogue- Exposing the Thoughts of Your Character

    • ‘Oh dear, mother is going to be so mad at me. How could I have known those delicious flowers were off limits. They were so good! I absolutely loved them, especially the blue and red ones. Mother is going to be so mad. What should I do? Oh I know, I will lie down and give her big puppy eyes and she will forgive me for sure!’ “Tanner, what have you done!” *lays down and looks at the woman* “Awe, ok fine, I forgive you.”

    • OMG! You really really mean it! You really mean it and I mean really truly mean it?!?! I guess you mean it because that is definitly your serious face right there. I will be very serious too. Mmmmm. Oh I cant stand I have to be exited I……………

  1. Kaylie, 13. Sorry, Bella. I don’t want to take your idea, but I really like the puppy too. 😉 I picked picture 14. The paragraph is supposed to be in italics…but there was no button for it.

    ‘I’m sorry. I really really am. But the toilet was so…good. Yum. Sorry. I didn’t know I’d fall in. Why do you look mad? It’s not like I dragged the water around the house. Oh wait–I did that with mud last week. I’m really sorry. Does this mean I don’t get any more treats? Or belly-scratches? Can I sleep in your bed tonight? Please? Does this face I’m making change anything? Are you sure? Why are you looking at me like that? What does adorable mean? Wha-ohhh…that feels nice! Yeah…keep scratching there. Yea-OHH! Yes. That’s the spot. There you go. Now how about that treat?’

  2. Emily, 13, picture 6, (imagine the following is in italics)
    Ugh, will she EVER shut up? At first I tried to listen, I really did. But then I just got bored, and then annoyed. I thought that if I acted like a statue or something, maybe she would just stop talking. But no, that was just too much to ask wasn’t it? She saw right through it! Now I’m stuck here, tethered by the bonds of marriage, destined to live my life absorbing the meaningless chatter my wife spouts and pretending to care. I loved my wife, I still do. I just never imagined that she would stay like this. I thought it was just a phase when we first met, that maybe she’d outgrow it or something. I’d never guessed that even after we were married, she would continue with her babbling. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to live like this. I guess I’ll just have to learn. Wish me luck…I’m gonna need it.

    That was really fun! I love writing things that convey a strong sense of emotion:)

  3. Ruthie, I chose 13, I think. The girl laying in the grass. Okay, here I go.

    Oh wow, this grass is soft! No, it’s tickling me! Oh, it’s both! Oh well! The sun is really bright! At least that makes it warm. I really don’t want to leave this spot. Hey! It could float to school with me! No, that’s surreal. Oh well! I can always fantisize!

  4. I chose the old man in number 11…
    What day is it? Humph. What kind of question is that? I’m a 75 year old man and you expect me to know what day it is just like that? Humph. Oh, wait. Wait. Think old man, THINK! What day is it? Ugh. How could I FORGET our 50th anniversary? Think. THINK. I gotta have a plan. A plan. She is just looking at me with expectant eyes…. Oh, those eyes. I remember those baby blues the first day we met. I remember handing her a shaking fist full of daisies I picked from the neighbors yard. AH, HA! THAT’S IT! Grocery stores have daisies! Time to clear the throat and lay on the charm.
    “Of COURSE, I remember honey. How could you think I would forget TODAY? Why, I remember the first time I saw you…”

  5. I just dropped in to say hi to everyone at the virtual writers’ camp. I’m at a different one, working on my next book, but I know my friend Felicia is here. Have a great time, everyone (and that internal dialogue post is inspiring – thanks!)

    • Welcome, Jemima! We’d love your input on the student’s work. Feel free to comment and give the kids encouragement! You may even want to post your own work here. We’ve got a few adult participating, too.

  6. Erik, 12, Picture 7, The emotion is admiring.

    Don’ that girl gotta lotta spunk, ain’ tha’ right? She come here, askin’ for mah help, an’ sh’ ‘as no way a payin’? No one come to Witch Mama Ethel widdout a type a payment!… Oh? Whad’s dis? Shi’ll gimme a quarter a da treasure, if sh’ finds it, huh? Hmm… Money, be’s nice, but Mama Ethel don’ need money. Y’know whut? I could use another Skeleton Ball, I haven’ commun’d wid da dead in a while. Let’z tes’ da girl, see wha sh’ can do, see if sh’ could really get da treasure. I’ll sen’ ‘er on mah own li’l ques’.

  7. Eli, 11
    I am doing the #10. The baby is thinking: No i don’t want a bath, let me play with my dinosyoar! (The baby does not say everything corrty) The mud was fun though. :(

  8. Zsa Zsa, 9.
    I am doing #14, The pleading puppy.

    Doggy: please give me a treat! I am so hungry I could eat my whole bag of food! I will be the best dog ever!

    Ok I just want to tell you to make a happy ending (which I LOVE happy endings and puppies <3) he gets the treat. 😀

  9. Jordan,10 and I choose number 8.

    WHY DID YOU EAT ALL OF ZA WAFFELS WHY!!!!!!! THOOSE WERE MY TASTY POWDED SUGER WAFFELS YOU FIEND!!!!!!!!

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