Saturday, June 21, 2014

Writing Lessons from Anime: Interior Monologue and Thoughts

Guilty Crown. Attack on Titan. Sword Art Online. These are some of my favorite animes. For years I couldn't put my finger on it, but something made animes stand apart from other shows or movies both animated or live action. I wrote a post on several tips about what you can learn from them, but the thing that sets these Japanese animated television programs apart is the use of thoughts.

Interior monologue and thoughts are used to show the point of view character's thought process in books. Both are essential to bringing the reader close to the character.

Thoughts are direct thoughts from the character always in present tense.
Example: I hate him! 

Interior monologue is without italics and from a third person perspective usually.
Example: He had to find a way out!

Like in books, animes use thoughts in the progression of the shows. Since thoughts are the genuine interior of the character, this brings the audience closer to the characters than just what they show on the outside or even in their private moments. Though many other forms of televised media use brief bits of narration or flashbacks, thoughts show the real character.

I'm going use video clips to help with this post. All of the designated sections are PG, and I'm going to keep them spoiler free. :) The clips will automatically start at a certain point but I can't figure out how to stop them  at a certain point so I will say where to stop. None of these clips are mine. I'm just using them for examples because they're great shows.

In this clip (that I had to delete because YouTube so kindly removed it -_-'), we see Naruto expressing his distress internally about the exam. His lips don't move so he is thinking this. It would be awkward if he expressed this out loud, and we wouldn't be as close to Naruto if we just saw the facial expression.

Anime put the thoughts/interior monologue in same places as in a book. By watching over five hundred episodes of anime over the years, I've noticed there are four different types of interior monologue: General Commentary, Solving, Reflection, and Internal Comment.

1.) General Commentary - This is the basic thought process of a character, including a bit of talking to oneself on the inside. This happens throughout books and animes on a regular basis.

For this type of interior monologue, I'll use a clip from Guilty Crown. There are several instances of interior monologue particularly at 0:41, 0:59, 1:24, 2:24 and 3:04.

In this clip, we get the hang of Shu's (the main character, guy with brown hair with white highlight) voice and how he thinks. We get that he's shy, introverted, and self conscious from hearing his thoughts. Your character's thoughts will define the personality of your character. So keep character voice in mind while writing out general thoughts. 

2.) Solving - This is when your character is working out a problem in their head. This usually happens during action sequences. Action as in not necessarily when the character's life is directly in danger but when something big is happening.

In many Naruto episodes the characters figure out their enemies attacks during battles. Thinking through their strategies and predicting moves. This is important so your readers are up to date with your character's thought process. If your character commences a plan and your readers don't know how he came up with it, they can feel out of sync with the characters, and it can take them out of a deep point of view.

3.) Reflection - This happens during rest periods or times between action sequences usually. Sometimes animes do them during a battle, but I wouldn't recommend that too often since it can dispel the tension you built up. The character can reflect on situations positively or negatively contemplating on what happened and sometimes what to do next or how it has/will change them.

I'll use a clip from Attack on Titan, clip one finishes at 0:30.

In this clip, Eren is reflecting on the past. Earlier in the show, the humans in the city were totally unprepared for any Titan (the enemy) attacks. But now that the humans have learned they have more of a chance. Have your characters take time to reflect during rest periods. Usually those are the best times to show character arcs coming along. 

4.) Internal Comment - This is a comment or reaction or opinion of a character that he could express out loud but wants to express internally. Usually this type of interior monologue happens during conversation.

For this type of interior monologue I'll use a clip from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. (Example clip ends at 6:53)

In this clip, Colonel Mustang (guy with black hair and bangs) is obviously annoyed with Maes Hughes (the dude that just barged in). Though this isn't a typical way that anime shows thoughts, it is still Colonel Mustang expressing his opinion of Maes inside because he doesn't want others to hear.

Your character may want to express an internal opinion be it positive or negative in interior monologue or thoughts. Including a bit of interior monologue like this lets us know what he's thinking about this person or situation. This is also effective to do when inserted between dialogue when the character says something but is thinking something else or lying.

On a final note, don't forget to put in your interior monologue and thoughts frequently to keep your reader in the head of the character. Interior monologue more so than thoughts. And if you've noticed when the character in each clip starts thinking, the camera zooms up on the character. Before you write the character's interior monologue include an action beat that will make the book's "camera" zoom up on the character.

Example: Suki put her hand over her mouth. Oh my goodness. Not Hiro.

Interior monologue is a great asset for your writing when you learn how to use it to its fullest and so fun when you finally tap into your character's voice. ^ ^ Ganbette ne (Good luck)!

Do you have any questions about interior monologue? Have you seen any of these animes? 

You may also like:
What Anime Can Teach Us About Writing
Five Tips on Writing A Good Main Character
How to Write a 3D Villain Part 1
How to Write a 3D Villain Part 2
MomoCon and Fans!

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment