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Sunday, September 22

Sunday Writing Tip: Cut Unnecessary Internalization From Your Scenes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, check your scenes are remove any unnecessary internal thoughts.


Last week you added thoughts where they were needed, but this week, let’s focus on places where you’ve gone a little too far and let those thoughts ramble a bit.

A common place to to find unneeded thoughts is when there’s a lot of text between lines of dialogue—especially between a question asked and answered, or two statements made by the same character.

For example:
“Are you going tonight?” he asked.
She wasn’t sure. [Many more sentences that show her internal debate about going or not]. “I don’t know.”
Or something such as…
“You’re not getting it.” Which made no sense since I’d explained it seven times now. [Many more sentences of him thinking about what he’d done and how the other person wasn’t getting it]. “You have to focus.”
Other potential places to find too much internalization:
  • Highly emotional scenes
  • Beginnings of scene to setup the scene
  • End of scenes to wrap them up
  • Scenes where decisions are being made
If you’re not sure if you should cut it or not, try reading it out loud. If it sounds slow or drags, you can probably cut it.

For more on trimming internalization in your novel, try these articles:

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