Portraying a Character’s Thoughts

Imagine watching a play where the characters continually address the audience, giving them insight into their thoughts that the other characters aren’t aware of. It allows the audience to be more involved and gives them the satisfaction of knowing more than the characters themselves!


The same can and should be done in your novel. Readers love it when a character’s thoughts are portrayed on a page for only them to see. It creates a more complex character who is constantly thinking and analyzing everything he or she comes into contact with.


Just take a minute to consider how much of your day is consumed by your thoughts. People’s minds are constantly operating and jumping around. Why shouldn’t a novel’s character function the same way?


The most important time to bring in a character’s thoughts are when they are in contact or conversation with other characters. Have them say one thing, but then think something else that shows how they really feel about the situation. Take this scene below for example:


I got a call from Bob about helping him move this weekend.

“Yeah, sure Bob, I would love to come over and help you,” I responded cheerfully.

Who in the world wants to spend a weekend helping their grumpy neighbor move? I sure will be glad when he’s somebody else’s neighbor and can ask them for favors all the time.

“I’ll be there 8 A.M. sharp, yes sir, see you then,” I said just as cheerfully.
Without the narrator’s thoughts, the reader would understand him to be happy about helping Bob move. However, showing the narrator’s thoughts captures his emotions and mindset about this situation and relates to the reader that he is not enthusiastic about helping Bob move. It rewards the reader with inside information that the other characters don’t have access to.


So, have fun when creating your character’s thoughts! Make them creative. Make them scatter-brained. Make them philosophical. Make them over-analytical. Make them confused. Make them a hopeless romantic. The possibilities are endless!

Portraying a Character’s Thoughts