Why are novels better than movies?

Inner dialogue is the way we build characters and make them unforgettable.

I’ve heard it always, and I know it’s true.

People read a good novel.

They go to the movies and watch the novel come to life on screen.

Time after time, they walk out of the theater and say the same thing.

The movie was good.

They liked the book better.

Ever wonder why?

This is what I believe.

In the movies, we see the characters and know what they look like.

That’s all.

We watch the action.

We watch the characters watch the action.

We see them smile or frown, cringe or arch an eyebrow, spit in disgust or nervously rub their chins.

That’s all we can do.

In a novel, however, readers are permitted behind the curtain. They can crawl inside a character’s head and know what he or she is thinking. We better understand why they react the way they do. We learn all about their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their motivations.

Sure, dialogue is important in books and on the movie screens.

Dialogue is the best way to tell a story.

But don’t forget that crucial inner dialogue characters have with themselves.

Inner dialogue is the way we build characters and make them unforgettable.

For example, in Night Side of Dark, I could have described Ambrose Lincoln as a tall man with broad shoulders and a face chiseled from porous granite. Dark brown eyes and unkempt brown hair that always needed combing. A perpetual scowl. A scar below his left eyes. Wearing jeans, a black sweater, and boots.

You might be able to see him in your mind.

But you wouldn’t know him.

He’s little more than a stick figure.

Instead, I used inner dialogue to help you better know and understand Lincoln and his plight on earth.

***

I wrote:

Thoughts of her had been rattling around in the misplaced fragments of his mind long before Ambrose Lincoln crawled out of the darkness and heard the clatter of steel grinding against steel as the train knifed its way through the gray side of a dark night. No moon. No stars. No scattered shards of light on the land outside. All Lincoln saw were forms and shapes and shadows, and only the shadows concerned him. He did not trust the shadows.

Shadows carried guns.

One had shot him.

But that was long ago.

Or had it ever happened at all?

And why did his chest hurt in the bitter cold of winter, and why did he carry the ragged scar of a scalpel across his chest, and why couldn’t he remember why someone had wanted him dead, or had he merely been an innocent bystander in a Netherworld where no one was innocent or a bystander?

They had taken his mind.

They had removed his memory.

A man without a memory is a man who fears nothing.

That’s what the doctors said.

That’s what the doctors told him each time the electrodes touched the tattered nerve endings of his brain, each time the worn purple switch sent jolts of electricity racing down the dark tunnels of everything he had known in life and could not find anymore. The electricity had wiped it all clean.

Memories.

Regrets.

Emotions.

You fear nothing.

            And no one.

            Not even death.

He could still hear their voices as clearly as he heard the rain peppering against the windows of the train. A strange cold wrapped itself around him as Lincoln sighed and leaned his head back against the seat.

The doctors had lied.

Lincoln had lied.

He knew what the doctors did not know.

He knew what the doctors would never find out.

He could remember, not everything, but enough to know he had been trained and schooled and brainwashed and given assignments no sane man would accept. And when it was all said and done, they had left him out in the cold, just Ambrose Lincoln and the shadows. After a while, he became one with the shadows, and they belonged together.

The shadows had chased him.

The shadows had threatened him.

The shadows had wanted him dead.

But the shadows had never lied to him.

***

Lincoln’s thoughts are his own personal demons.

Inner dialogue lets you know why he does what he does.

Inner dialogue explains the tormented man he has become.

Please click HERE to purchase your own copy of Night Side of Dark from Amazon.

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  • All an actor can do with that is look tortured and anguished; not much detail. And voiceover is so old, I’m surprised they still use it.

    But then I’m prejudiced. I write novels. Very interior novels. Stuff happens – and someone thinks about it and uses it to change and… grow? Well, some of the characters.

    It doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of my kind of action; but humans are thinking beings, some of them, and like to be challenged, some of them.

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