Day 21 – Streamline the Internalization

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today’s subject is internalization—those sentences and paragraphs of conversation inside the POV’s head. I am to look at judgment and reactions, unnecessary filtering, and italicizing.

Janice suggests a search on question marks, the reasoning being that a litany of internal questions could indicate the character is telling readers what they ought to be thinking instead of showing the character reacting.

Filters distance readers from the POV character, which may or may not be what you want. They may explain things that are obvious or lead a writer into telling or crafting passive sentences. Some filter words are: saw, heard, felt, knew, watched, decided, noticed, realized, wondered, thought, and looked.

Immediate thoughts are often italicized. Italics should be used sparingly or not at all. You can change an italic thought into internalization with a simple tense change, such as Is he asking me out? to “Was he asking her out?”

I did the question mark search and found several thoughts that could be restructured. I also eliminated some of the sentences in longer paragraphs. Other good search criteria are: such as, she felt, he realized, I knew.

Results: It is interesting to note that when I search for one thing, I often run across another that needs tweaking. I am more aware of things to look for at this point, and am encouraged that as I write my next story, somewhere in the back of my mind I will pick up on some of these needed changes as I go.

Take-Away Value:

Congratulations! You have completed three weeks!

You should feel stronger now, able to see things in your story you didn’t even know to look for before. Internalization is an important way to let the reader know what the POV character is thinking and feeling. This will bring them into your character’s head and let them see the world through their eyes.

There last three lessons have been more time-consuming for me than the previous ones. Has it been the same way for you?

See you on the next page.




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