Internal Conflict Blogfest hosted over at Alliterative Allomorph brought up an interesting question in my mind.
See, I didn't enter the contest because I don't write a lot of internal conflicts. I herky-jerky looked through some of my work and couldn't find much. I found some, sure, but I didn't like it. If I had the patience, I probably would go back and edit it out.
And I didn't read many of the entries, either. I read some, sure, and I liked em, but it made me realize something: I don't prefer the use of internalization during storytelling.
And that got me to wondering why? Why don't I internalize? Why do I skim over passages in books that are hardcore internalization?
This morning laying on the couch with my wife -- we're sleeping on the couches because she's pregnant and she's more comfortable on the couch -- I got to thinking (internalizing) about show v. tell, and internalization.
Cue the epiphany!
Internalization is telling, not showing. There's no action associated with it. It's stagnant, a pause in the story.
Not that there's anything wrong with telling. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle told all of his Sherlock Holmes stories. You never saw Sherlock in action, but you heard about it.
Now let me demonstrate my point.
Should she go to his house, knock on his door? Would he even care that she still loved him? Would he forgive her? The thoughts swam in her head with the wine and she couldn't decide if she'd be better off knocking on his door, seeing him standing there with that look on his face, her being humiliated, or if she could live with herself never knowing whether he'd sweep her into the foyer and forgive her sins right there on the carpet.
But she couldn't just walk up to him, not after what she'd done.
Still. She had to know.
Okay, that was telling internalization. Hardcore, right? That's a typical scene in some genres. Nothing wrong with it, but there's no action associated with it, and I'd skim through it during a read.
Here's a re-write with more action.
She cut off the lights as she turned into the cul-de-sac and darkness swept over his house. She parked across the street and wrung her hands on the steering wheel and then she opened the door, left the engine running and took two steps away from her Civic before she got back in and closed the door, quietly so nobody would wake up.
She played with the radio, but nothing on sounded good. Billy Idol on the oldie station. Limp Biskit on the modern rock, if you could call them modern. She turned off the radio and stepped out of the car again and this time made it to his front door and stood there beneath the burnt-out porch light, her hand a palm's width away from the doorknob, the doorbell, the knocker, her house key in her hand and then back in her pocket, jangling with the blood through her temples.
Turning away the tears came this time and she let them. She deserved the tears.
Metallica rang out on the oldie station. "Anywhere I roam. Where I lay my head is home."
"Fuck it," she said to the radio, and crying she turned on her headlights, pulled into his driveway, shined the lights straight through his front windows, stepped out and when he answered the door all she could say, over and over: "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
See the difference? Showing. Telling. I'm not against telling -- I believe in breaking rules, trust me -- but at least keep some action in the scene.
I think Donna did a good job of mingling internalization with action: Donna Hole's Conflict.
That's just an example of mixing the action with the internalization. You can check out AA's full list of entries and see what other writers did a good job of mixing the two.
Me? I don't mix well. I like action in my stories.
But that's just me.
How about you? Actionator? Internalizer? Is internalization telling the story, and does is slow down the pace? Or is it a necessary part of storytelling that increases a character's depth?