A pause for reaction and reflection in a story should be purposeful and effective.
Getting inside the head of a character is an important part of telling a story. We want to know what makes that character tic, and for that reason, moments of introspection are needed. These pauses in the action of a story need to be handled wisely, so as to not bore the reader with mundane monologues (or dialogues) that ultimately distract from the objective.
In her video series on the editing process, novel writer and editor Ellen Brock shares her tips for making introspective scenes more interesting. Check out her video for more detail on each point; we’ve also provided a list of her recommendations below.
To make an introspective scene more interesting, try these three steps:
1. Give your character something to react to.
There must be some kind of catalyst that has initiated this pause in the story.
2. Introduce the dilemma right away.
Don’t leave your reader guessing as to why a character is suddenly away from the action of the story. A dilemma creates conflict and establishes the problem that the character needs to resolve.
3. Make sure there is a clear conclusion.
These moments of introspection have a clear lead in (an event of causation) and a clear lead out (a plan to move forward).
When a character takes time to consider a moment of conflict in their story, it is important that the writer manages that pause in a way that is deliberate and purposeful. We hope this was helpful to you and happy writing!