Month: October 2023

  • Too much internal dialogue?

    Too much internal dialogue?
    Too much internal dialogue?

    One of the mainstream published novels I read recently had far too much internal dialogue. Internal dialogue is the stream of thoughts, which can be in monologue or dialogue, that many people have in real life. Though, interestingly, not everyone experiences internal dialogue.

    In fiction, showing a viewpoint character’s thoughts is an excellent way to strengthen characterisation. We can see the character’s changing emotions and thoughts, the questions they ask themself, their hopes and doubts.

    Internal dialogue shows us the interior life of a character, adding an extra dimension to a story.

    However, too much will interrupt scenes, cause lengthy breaks in external dialogue or action which can lead to readers struggling to pick up the story again. Too much will also slow down pacing.

    Imagine a scene where a conversation is taking place, and the conversation is constantly interrupted by an extended section of internal dialogue. The character might ruminate over what’s being said, and that’s fine and good, but if it goes on too long the external scene becomes fragmented and hard to follow.

    In the case of the gothic thriller I was reading, the internal dialogue also added far too much unnecessary word count.

    I think part of the issue was that the author was often using internal dialogue to emphasise the stakes, as if they didn’t trust the reader to work it out for themselves. But it would run on too long and become counterproductive.

    Stakes should add to tension and pacing in more dramatic scenes, but stringing out the internal dialogue actually blows the pace. The author’s editor could have suggested cutting it back. I could see loads of places where cutting it back would boost not just pacing but the stakes by keeping things more focused.

    I’ve read two books by this author and felt both were failed by the lack of proper developmental editing. There were also other issues including weak characterisation in relation to other characters. It was hard sometimes to tell the other characters apart. Less bloated sections of internal dialogue could have made room for better drawn characters.

    After I finished both novels, I checked the Amazon reviews and many other readers had the same issues.

    Do you want feedback on your novel?

    I’m currently open to new clients. And I’m adding a new version of my Opening Chapters Edit service. Previously this was always a developmental edit, featuring a report and comments in the margins of your manuscript. However, I’m also offering a manuscript critique version. This is basically just a report with no margin comments.

    If you’re interested in either of these services, or a full developmental edit or manuscript critique, you can check out my services page here.

    Or you can email me at to discuss your manuscript and what you’re looking for.

  • Why choose an opening chapters edit?

    Why choose an opening chapters developmental edit?
    Why choose an opening chapters developmental edit?

    As a developmental editor I offer a number of editing options to potential clients. The most obvious two are a manuscript critique and a developmental edit.

    Manuscript critique

    In the case of the first, you get a lengthy report focusing on not just the main issues in your manuscript, you also get some lower level feedback. And I’ll also tell you what you’re getting right! This option comes with a reading list that’s specially targeted for your needs. I recently offered a lower priced version of this option which requires only three reads. My preference is four.

    Two reads for me is what I would call a Beta Critique. It’s beyond a beta read, but not as extensive as a manuscript critique.

    Manuscript critiques don’t include margin comments, unless you opt to purchase an add-on service. For example:

    • You want margin comments for the first 5000 words of your manuscript on top of the report.

    Other word count options are available.

    Developmental edit

    With developmental editing you get a report and margin comments throughout the manuscript. This is a much more detailed type of editing and takes longer. It also gives you more feedback.

    Opening chapters developmental edit

    On top of these services, I offer an opening chapters developmental edit. The usual length here is the first 10,000 words or 15,000 words (it can vary). This is a great opportunity to test out developmental editing without having to commit to full developmental editing costs.

    You can also learn a lot from an opening chapters edit:

    • Does your story open in the best place?
    • Do you have a good opening hook?
    • Are you dropping in too much backstory?
    • Is your main character well established in the opening chapters?
    • Do your opening chapters and style of writing conform to the genre you’re aiming for?
    • Are you adopting the right tone?
    • Are you using too much internal dialogue?
    • Is your dialogue properly formatted?
    • Is your opening well paced?
    • Are you using the best POV for your story?
    • Do you have head hopping issues in your story?

    In addition to these and other issues, if you include the synopsis, I can check to see if the opening of your novel is fulfilled by the ending. With the synopsis I can also address character arc, theme, etc.

    With the opening chapters developmental edit, you get a report consisting of a few thousand words, plus margin comments and a reading list.

    NEW: Opening chapters manuscript critique

    However, I’m now offering an alternative to the opening chapters edit – one that mimics a manuscript critique, where you only get the report, no margin comments. Because this takes less time, the price will be lower.

    It could be that you’re at a point where you need lighter feedback on your beginning. Or maybe you’re on a lower budget.

    If you do choose an opening chapters edit, you are entitled to a discount on a full edit later.

    Feel free to contact me about opening chapters edits and reports. We can discuss your project and what you’re looking for. I will do my best to meet your needs. My email is