Does internal dialogue start a new paragraph?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Internal dialogue can indeed start a new paragraph in a story. When a character’s thoughts, internal monologue, or stream of consciousness becomes lengthy or complex, it is common for writers to start a new paragraph to visually separate it from the external dialogue or narration. This formatting choice helps readers distinguish between what is happening in the external world and what is occurring inside the character’s mind.

By starting a new paragraph for internal dialogue, writers provide a clear visual cue to indicate that the narrative has shifted from the external world to the character’s thoughts or inner reflections. This separation allows readers to engage with the character’s internal experience on a deeper level, as it creates a distinct space for their innermost thoughts and emotions to be explored.

For example, let’s consider a fictional scenario where a character named Emma is having a conversation with her best friend Sarah:

Emma’s heart raced as she looked at Sarah, contemplating whether or not to confess her true feelings. “Sarah, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” she stammered.

Sarah raised an eyebrow, curiosity evident on her face. “What is it, Emma?”

In that moment, Emma’s mind raced with a flurry of thoughts. Should she risk their friendship for the possibility of something more? Would Sarah reciprocate her feelings, or would it ruin everything they had built together? As she grappled with these questions, Emma’s internal dialogue began to consume her thoughts:

I’ve known Sarah for years, and she’s always been there for me. But lately, my feelings for her have grown stronger. What if she feels the same way? What if we could be more than just friends? But what if she doesn’t feel the same? Will things ever be the same between us? Can I bear the thought of losing her as a friend? These thoughts are driving me crazy!

In this example, the internal dialogue starts a new paragraph after the external dialogue between Emma and Sarah. By doing so, the writer emphasizes the shift from the spoken conversation to Emma’s internal contemplation. This separation allows readers to delve deeper into Emma’s thoughts and emotions, giving them insight into her internal struggle and the complexity of her feelings.

In addition to starting a new paragraph, writers may also use italics or other formatting options to further distinguish internal dialogue from external dialogue or narration. These visual cues help readers navigate the story and understand when the character is engaging in self-reflection or having a personal conversation with themselves.

When it comes to internal dialogue in a story, starting a new paragraph is a common and effective way to visually separate the character’s thoughts from the external world. This formatting choice allows readers to engage with the character’s inner experience on a deeper level, providing insight into their thoughts, emotions, and personal dilemmas.