Do your characters think? I mean, do they sit there and stew over something? Do they stop the story so they can come up with a plan or analyze what just happened? Not sure? Better put on your introspection detection glasses. Watch for these signs to see if your character is too “into” himself (because he’s internalizing, but because he’s vain):
-Does the character spend more time in his thoughts than he does speaking with other?
-Do you use introspection as the only way to reveal his character traits and personality?
-Does the character mull over every event?
-Does he calculate every risk?
-Is the internal dialogue fitting with the character and the story?
The two biggest mistakes a writer can make with introspection is letting it go on too long or writing it in an unbelievable way. Meaning: the character wouldn’t really think that way or that NOBODY would. Ex. The sky was the most amazing shade of pink and she wanted to become a cloud so she could float in all that pinkness. Oh, how wonderful it would be to fly like a bird and soar though the skies. Blah, blah, blah. How is that moving the story forward? What is that telling us about her? Not much. When you use internal dialogue, make sure it serves a purpose.
Introspection is a great way to show character, but it can’t be the only way. Remember, whenever the characters stops to think, he’s keeping the story from moving forward. Just imagine the scene as if it were on a stage. If the actor has to stop and wait while his character thinks things through (even if he’s thinking out loud), will the audience loose interest? At some point, they will. We want to see things unfold. We need to watch characters interact with each other or react to situations. But that doesn’t mean you should remove all introspection.
It’s all about balance. Isn’t that always the way?
Have you read a book where there was too much or not enough introspection?