Gail Gaymer Martin refers to introspection as not only the internalizations (unspoken aloud, but dialogue just the same, that is italicized within fiction novels) but all internal thought processes divulged from the POV character’s head.
It is easy to see the importance of introspection within any novel, especially a Christian romance, when you consider how intimate the reader can get with the POV characters through shared introspection on the page. It is in introspection that the POV character can truly reveal what is in his/her head and heart. Personality and feelings—fears, joys, questioning, confusion, heartache—you name it, can be revealed through introspection. It is a powerful tool for an author to use to instigate a connection between their characters and the readers of their book as well as divulge information.
But it is the author’s duty to be sure that as with dialogue, narrative and action, introspection should always move the story forward. Something new or a deeper understanding must be presented in the context of the segment of introspection. If it doesn’t advance the plot in some way then it needs to be scrapped or modified so that it does.
Through introspection the POV character can reveal their personal goals and motivation. This can be done in dialogue and action as well, but consider a scenario where the POV character wants to hide their goal from other story characters, introspection is a perfect way to reveal it only to the reader. It is through introspection that the reader learns of secrets, or perhaps just their existence but not yet the details, providing intrigue and mystery as the story unfolds.
Introspection is a powerful tool for foreshadowing or revealing intrigue as well. End any statement with “now” and see how it can cause second guessing, questioning? For example, consider this simple phrase: “I like this outfit.” What does that tell you? She’s pleased, content with her choice of attire, right?
Now add “now” on the end. “I like this outfit now.” See the questioning the now evokes? The reader will wonder what happened in the past that caused her change of attitude toward the outfit. Has she overcome an insecurity that the outfit reminds her of? Has someone of interest complimented her on this outfit after an unpleasant experience in it in the past? Or has her body just altered in shape to complement the outfit better since the last time she wore it? Depending on the reader, that simple “now” will introduce a variety of questions, keeping the reader hooked to find out what was meant by that “now”. But like anything, don’t overuse this trick in any one novel or its value will soon fade and become more of a nuisance than a motivator to read on.
Remember that important third strand of a Christian romance? The spiritual component. The character’s spiritual journey can be disclosed through the use of introspection. If a character starts out a non-believer and then we see him/her questioning faith issues along the way, progressing into prayer for help and then perhaps praise, for example, the reader will see the character’s faith and understanding of God progress throughout the novel. A lot of this can be divulged through moments of introspection mixed with dialogue and action throughout the novel. In the same way, the reader can be privy to the romantic development in the novel through introspection, action, and dialogue. By utilizing introspection, dialogue and action to show these progressions you will provide a compelling read that can touch all the senses and doesn’t bore the reader.
Getting inside your character’s head makes him/her three-dimensional and thus introspection is needed to create a believable character. So reveal your characters and their plights through not only dialogue and action, but be sure to use moments of introspection as well.
Again, this is by no means a complete analysis of what Gail Gaymer Martin offers in her book Writing the Christian Romance, it is only my summary notes. For a more in depth study, I suggest you borrow or purchase a copy of this writing resource, it is definitely a wonderful book for Christian romance writers and writers alike to have as a resource to reference often.
Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the topic of plotting from Gail Gaymer Martin’s Writing the Christian Romance.
If you feel so inclined, for a challenge, I ask you to tell us your feelings on introspection in works you have read. Is it overused, underused, too long-winded, or perfect? What balance do you prefer in the Christian romance novels you read?