4 Reasons To Use Internal Thoughts In Your Writing

While there are just as many writing tricks as there are ways to tell a story, there are some specific ones that can help make your book something special, and one of those is internal thoughts.

If you’ve never heard of the concept, it’s where you let the reader inside a character’s head by writing what they’re thinking but not saying out loud.

Why is this such a good trick to use? Because it gives the reader something extra, like letting them in on a secret. That and the following other reasons are just some perks that internal thoughts can bring to your manuscript.

4 Reasons To Use Internal Thoughts In Your Writing

Internal Thoughts Ensure Motives Don’t Come Out Of Nowhere

As the writer penning the story, we know it inside and out. We’ve plotted, planned, and rewritten countless drafts so any motives are seared into our brains. We know when and why things are happening, but sometimes, we don’t put those reasons on the page.

Yep, it happens. We forget to let the reader know something that is perfectly obvious to us.

The good news is that you can fix such an oversight via internal thoughts. If the reader knows why your MC had a sudden outburst because they internally debated what was going on around them first, it makes things clearer than if they’d just huffed off in the middle of the scene.

Including a hint as to what your character is thinking and feeling makes their actions more realistic and their motives easier to accept, so if you can work those kinds of internal thoughts in, definitely try to.

Internal Thoughts Make Your Characters Relatable

While we might not always understand the actions of characters because we’d never do what they would in the same situation, an internal thought a character might have could be what strikes a familiar chord instead.

Often, it’s those thoughts that people think but never say, including the good, the bad, and the witty. Giving these thoughts to your characters makes them relatable because readers will think; I’ve thought that, too!

Imagine all the times you’ve wanted to say something but held your tongue. Could it have made a difference in a situation?

While you might not know in real life, you can see how it would play out in a fictional one, and along the way, you could show readers a piece of themselves, making your characters more relatable, and the reader more likely to have a satisfactory experience with your book.

Internal Thoughts Can Help Avoid Info-Dumping

Working backstory into your character’s history can sometimes come across as info-dumping when you’re laying it all out. One way to avoid this is by putting that same history into internal thoughts.

Your character reminiscing about something in their past, or thinking back to a situation using their thoughts, allows you to impart that info in a more subtle way rather than dumping it in paragraph after boring paragraph.

Internal Thoughts Can Deepen The Reader’s Connection

Internal thoughts allow the reader to get as close to the character as they can. When someone’s innermost truths are on the page, they are giving the reader insight.

If you knew something no one had ever told anyone, would that make you feel closer to them? You’d have an instant bond, a deeper connection. You’d feel special because you know something about someone that no one else in the world does. That’s the power of internal thoughts, and why it’s a good idea to include them.

That perk, as well as the others listed in this post, should demonstrate why internal thoughts are a good idea if they suit your genre and the tale you’re telling. As with any writing element, however, it’s important not to go overboard.

Readers don’t need to know every little thing that pops into your character’s head. It’s an exhausting way to write and read. Use your discretion, double-check with beta readers that you haven’t gone internal too much, and enjoy the depth an excellent trick such as this can bring to your writing.

— K.M. Allan

Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

32 thoughts on “4 Reasons To Use Internal Thoughts In Your Writing

    1. Yes! It’s a bit of a good all-rounder tool 😊. I think internal thoughts actually work especially well for unlikable characters since they’re usually the things people won’t say out loud, and a horrible person would lean toward horrible thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. petespringerauthor

    We’ve had a lot of discussions about this topic in my writing group. I’m all for them as long as they’re not overused. I think it’s fun to have a character saying one thing (e.g., pretending to be complimentary of someone’s clothing) when their internal thoughts express an entirely different opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, yes! I love that kind of contradictory writing too. It really lets you see the true nature of the character. Does the majority of your writing group like internal thoughts? Or are there some writers who don’t like/use them?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. petespringerauthor

        A couple of people in the group never use them, and one writer, in particular, seems to be against them. She feels it works better to reveal a character’s true feelings through body language and other nonverbal cues. I respect her opinion as she is an excellent writer, but I disagree.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with you. Unless someone is very exceptional at writing body language and nonverbal cues in a way that means every single reader will understand correctly what the writer/character is trying to say, I think internal thoughts are a bit more foolproof.

        Liked by 1 person

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  3. Perfectly written, and I love the reasons WHY you feel that internal thoughts for our MC’s are so important. 🙂 After reading this blog post, I actually feel inspired to write a short story where I focus on internal thoughts and having more practice with that writing element. Thank you for sharing this with us. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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