Getting inside their heads

Lord Langdon's KissLord Langdon’s Kiss was the first book I wrote. Although some readers have asked about it, I haven’t reissued it yet because I thought it needed work. I’m in the thick of it now, about 5 chapters in, and I rather wish someone had told me back then to cut 10,000 words. Yup. 10,000.

Lord Langdon’s Kiss was originally published at about 85,000 words. My other traditional Regencies, the “Three Disgraces” series, are all around 75,000. And Lord Langdon’s Kiss has no more plot than any of them. What it does have is introspection. Tons and tons of introspection. What was I thinking?

I was thinking that it was so fun to get inside my characters’ heads.

And it is. Why people do things is still fascinating to me, and that applies to my characters as much as it does to real people. What I learned from the next story I wrote, a novella, The Wedding Wager, was that I didn’t need to use introspection to reveal everything. Writing a 20,000 word story taught me to tighten, tighten, and tighten some more.

I have a confession to make, though. I still love introspection, but I use it in a more disciplined way now. If a character can express him or herself through dialogue, action or body language, I use that instead. But there are times when a character has good reasons not to want to reveal his or her thoughts or feelings to others, and then I think a little internal dialogue is just fine.

Looking back over some older traditional Regencies, I see that I wasn’t the only one to write paragraphs and paragraphs of introspection. Perhaps one reason for it is the mores of the Regency, when it would have been improper for couples to express their feelings to each other before having an “understanding”. But I also think it’s a more old-fashioned way of writing.

What do you think of introspection? How much is too much? Can there be too little?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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3 Responses to Getting inside their heads

  1. Isobel Carr says:

    I’m pro-introspection (I think my books make that plenty clear, LOL!). The only time it bothers me is when it interrupts action or when it retells something we’ve already seen happen live.

  2. We live much of our own lives in our heads. Why shouldn’t out characters. I’m with Isobel, however, I don’t want it to interfere with the action and I don’t want it to tell me something I already know.

  3. Elena Greene says:

    One spot where I feel I tread a fine line is when a scene has been written in one character’s point of view, to the degree that another character’s reactions aren’t clear. Then in the next scene I want to go delve into the latter character’s reactions to the event, but also have to be careful not to bog down the story with repetition.

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