This is part three in a three part series. I haven't thought of anything else--yet. Mwa, ha, ha!
Part one discussed dialog and part two addressed narration.
Anyway, let's move on to internal thoughts. I'm not sure you need a lesson in what these are, but here goes. Internal thoughts are the internal thoughts of the narrating character. They are not spoken out loud and are usually offset by italics.
I'm just going to get this out there. I'm am not the hugest fan of internal thoughts. I think they are appropriate in many situations, but I think sometimes, just sometimes, they are overused. Here are a couple of reasons why:
1. Repeatage. Remember the old mantra of saying something once and moving on? I think many, many times, authors use internal thoughts to say something again. Just to get the point across that hey, this is important. And I don't think that's necessary. It's just a more annoying way to say something you've already said.
The same rule applies here that applied to dialog. Don't have your main character thinking about stuff they've already said out loud. Or have them think it and THEN say it out loud.
2. The herky jerky. Sometimes I think internal thoughts cause a disruption in the flow of narration. You've got a great thing going. Don't interrupt it with internal thinkage. This is especially true while writing in third person, because internal thoughts are in first person. And this constant switch back and forth is a bit jarring if done repeatedly.
I'm also not a proponent of having the character think to themselves, Think, think. You can do this. Um, they are thinking. They're thinking, Think, think. You can do this. Not actually thinking about the problem, so yeah. Not a fan. Also, the reader does not need to know everything the main character is thinking. We don't need a stream of conscious thought spewed out on the page and stalling the forward motion of the writing.
Now internal thoughts are a good way to get an "Eureka!" moment into the writing. Like when your main character realizes something for the first time, but wouldn't say out loud. I also think internal thoughts are great when a character thinks something that surprises them. Most of the time it completely surprises me too, but getting inside their head can really help to flesh out a character. So they have uses--and in the hands of a capable author, internal thoughts don't detract from the story, the writing, the flow. They're like seasonings--they make it better.
Basically, I like to get most of my information across through narration and dialog. Internal thoughts are great for getting closer to a character, but not an effective tool to reveal major plot points or drive the action forward. In many cases, I think it's wise to look at the internal thoughts in your writing and see if they can be eliminated and woven into the narration or dialog surrounding them. Again, that doesn't mean I've never met an internal thought I didn't like, I just think they should be used like red pepper flakes. In moderation.
What say you? Were you as shocked as I was about American Idol's winner? Did you see Glee? Are you ready for a new season of "So You Think You Can Dance?"? Does my hair look like a toupee? What is that on the mirror? Do these capris make me look fat???
Whoa. Was I really thinking all of that?