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Old 2009-08-20, 20:49   Link #1
Timdog
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Why is there so much inner thought in anime?

I've noticed that a lot of anime have the inner thought of the characters yet most Western stories don't seem to have this. Is this due to culture? I know not all anime is like this, but it just seems very common. And do you think it helps or detracts from the story. In my creative writing class (yea I know, not like that is the be all end all of writing), my professor taught us that too much inner thought is a bad thing and instead what the characters are thinking should be shown through their actions and other things like symbols instead of actually saying, "Joe thought to himself, '...'".
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Old 2009-08-20, 20:55   Link #2
4Tran
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The amount of internal monologue probably arises from anime's manga origins. It's nothing for a manga panel to show monologue or to use narration, and so when the same scene is translated to animated form, that aspect gets carried along. If most of the anime that you watch is based on manga, then you'll probably come across this more often than if you watched anime based on either novels or games.

Whether it's a good method of storytelling depends on the execution more than it does on the technique used. A lot of the time, monologues are used as storytelling shortcuts, and these tend to be indicative of lazy writing. Monologues used to suggest isolation or to aid in characterization tend to come off a lot better.
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Old 2009-08-20, 21:01   Link #3
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Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
The amount of internal monologue probably arises from anime's manga origins. It's nothing for a manga panel to show monologue or to use narration, and so when the same scene is translated to animated form, that aspect gets carried along. If most of the anime that you watch is based on manga, then you'll probably come across this more often than if you watched anime based on either novels or games.

Whether it's a good method of storytelling depends on the execution more than it does on the technique used. A lot of the time, monologues are used as storytelling shortcuts, and these tend to be indicative of lazy writing. Monologues used to suggest isolation or to aid in characterization tend to come off a lot better.
Hmm... I see what you mean. Come to think of it, of all the examples where there is no inner thought or very little of it, there was no manga to precede the anime/movie. That does seem to make sense.
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Old 2009-08-20, 23:36   Link #4
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Originally Posted by Timdog View Post
I've noticed that a lot of anime have the inner thought of the characters yet most Western stories don't seem to have this. Is this due to culture? I know not all anime is like this, but it just seems very common. And do you think it helps or detracts from the story. In my creative writing class (yea I know, not like that is the be all end all of writing), my professor taught us that too much inner thought is a bad thing and instead what the characters are thinking should be shown through their actions and other things like symbols instead of actually saying, "Joe thought to himself, '...'".
I'd say that the "difference" arises from your subjective point of view. It's quite possible that you have not read broadly enough in the field of English/Western literature. Pick up any number of Booker Prize-winning novels, or even the shortlisted ones that did not win, and you'd easily find complex stories driven by complicated characters whose thoughts are seldom linear or entirely clear.

If you're up for a real challenge in piecing together a character's "inner thoughts", I'd recommend James Joyce's Ulysses. It's a landmark in English literature that made "stream of consciousness" narrative popular.

I like manga just as much as any forum member here, but I'm under no delusion about how lightweight an art form it is when compared to a full-blown novel in any language.
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Old 2009-08-21, 00:32   Link #5
Irenicus
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Your professor's comment is a creative writing class thing more than anything, I think. Many starting writers have the tendency to "tell" instead of "show," to use an extremely common cliché. As was said above, it's a problem of lazy writing more than a problem of point of view, but it's a lot harder to explain "lazy writing" than to rely on the old cliché as an explanation.

At first I thought you were talking about an anime vs. other cartoons comparison, which would be more interesting. For example, I don't remember any instance where anime-esque inner thoughts are expressed in a Disney cartoon...or a Miyazaki movie. Hmm.

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I like manga just as much as any forum member here, but I'm under no delusion about how lightweight an art form it is when compared to a full-blown novel in any language.
That's a rather unfair comparison, I think. A large number of the more experimental manga simply don't make it overseas. Its relatively short existence and confined geography compared to the novel also puts it at a severe disadvantage. There are an incredible amount of forgettable novels out there both past and present after all, especially genre-based ones (romance novels of various languages, fantasy novels, all those weird 19th century genres, etc.) but we largely remember only the classics.
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Old 2009-08-21, 00:36   Link #6
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Miyazaki movie
That's a very good point. Ghibli's (excellent) anime films don't have nearly as much "inner thought", so it definitely is not explained away by culture and/or medium.

Do live-action Japanese series have as much inner thought? I think I remember Nodame Cantabile's drama adaptation (of the manga) having quite a bit of it. I think it might just be that manga tends to use it a lot, and a lot of anime is adapted from manga so....
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Old 2009-08-21, 01:52   Link #7
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There are an incredible amount of forgettable novels out there both past and present after all, especially genre-based ones (romance novels of various languages, fantasy novels, all those weird 19th century genres, etc.) but we largely remember only the classics.
While it's certainly true that a vast bulk of novels are forgettable, the same is arguably true of manga as well. Or for any art form for that matter.

So, all things being equal, we should consider the relative strengths of each medium when it comes to storytelling. I'm most certainly not underestimating the potential of graphic novels (ie, the more glamorous name for a densely written comic book) to tell complex stories, such as the ones created by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, I'd be hard pressed to find one that could match the narrative and thematic complexity of many modern novels.

Put it this way: The pictures and colours you see in manga or anime are necessarily the product of an artist's interpretation of an idea, whether from his own imagination or from an original source material. As viewers, we have one degree less of freedom to let our own imagination bring characters and scenarios to life.

That's why in any thread or sub-forum here, you'd constantly find people who complain how so-and-so character doesn't match how they'd imagined him or her to sound like, to look like, to behave, and so on.

This constraint is not present in a novel. A well-written novel exites a reader's imagination, and takes him to worlds that are otherwise impossible in real life. A reader is given free play to interpret the material to his own liking. Does this mean that novels are always better than movies, manga or anime? Why, no, of course not. For one thing, I much preferred the Silence of the Lambs movie over its original novel, which I felt to be sloppily written, jumping all over the place instead of focusing in its main themes and characters.

Others will of course disagree. But that's precisely the point I want to drive across: It's entirely subjective.

So, I take objection to the OP's suggestion that Western stories appear to lack "internal dialogue" compared to anime. I don't think it's true, based simply on the narrative richness of the stories I've read in English and which, in my opinion, surpass anything yet achieved in graphic art forms. I think it's a narrow opinion that comes from insufficient exposure to the kind of literature already available in the West.

Visual art has the capacity to make an impact that lasts, yes, but literature, on the other hand, leaves ideas that shape our thoughts for a lifetime.
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Old 2009-08-21, 02:12   Link #8
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Excuse me, but you don't seem to remember the roots of anime. Anime prior to WW2 were like cartoons. They aimed to be humorous or inspiring to kids. After the WW2 defeat, their modern looks and artistic style were provided by Osamu Tezuka. Now, Tezuka made sure that his works will inflict feelings to its viewers with different camera angles, background that changes acording to the person's feelings and even state some cruel facts around injustice.

Cartoons on the other side were not given the option to be philosophical. Walt Disney didn't make works aiming to make the audience think about unhappy things. America was at its prime and people had no reason to want to watch disturbing imagery, unlike Japan which just experienced a catastrofic loss, both in morale and manpower. Remember that it was nuked, its prideful navy was destroyed and it even lost the emperor worship (a positive feature for them) after being taken over by a foreign power for the first time in its history.

Meaning, America had no reason to question its morals (at least up to that time). Japan on the other hand was full of "Why did we lost? What went wrong? What does the future have for us now that we are dominated?" So many works were kinda looking into that.

Another reason is the MacKarthy era in America. The American extremists were so afraid of communism that they banned a ton of artistic expressions in all media. Sencorship was inforced in all forms of entertainent. So, all the directors had no choice but to follow a formula where Americans are wright, there is always a good ending, death, sex, cursing and violence are forbidden and even go through evaluation of their Americanizement. Many artists and directors were exiled for not making "politicaly correct" works. In fact, this term was invented just around that era, showing how much narrow minded the American thought had to be. You probably heard of the comic book public burnings or Lucky Luke having a straw instead of a cigarette on his mouth after awhile. Well, unlike Japan America was forced NOT to use inner thought to question its ideals.

Also, Puppet theatre. Japan was quite traditional up until 40 years ago. So, its marionette plays were about puppeteers using strings or flip carton images to tell fairy tales about samurai heroes fighting oni and stuff. Unlike television animation in the western world, depicting what exactly happened, string and carton puppets working on the spot was much harder to do the same. So the puppeteers were doing narration to explain the plot as it was going on and even changed the background with cartons depicting the mood of the scene. So, it was all mostly an inner monologue that actual dialogue. Another thing that went straight into anime.

And finally, lets not forget that Japanese tradition had a habit of making even mundane action to look like a spiritual journey. Drinking tea was to them a whole procedure of showing respect and honor. So was calligraphy, poetry and even bathing. Nothing was irrelevant to tradition, meditation, and honour. So, unlike most of the West, everything was already an inner journey of training and concentration. Not hard to see why all their works seem so ... mental.

There are more reasons but they elude me right now.
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Old 2009-08-21, 03:14   Link #9
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To the extent that Japanese culture and language rely more on contextual nuances than most other Western cultures and languages, I'd agree that it's highly possible that anime's "internal dialogues" reflect the nature of Japanese society and exprience.

However, I think the perceived differences are much more complex. And, in any case, it's arguable how far anime can convey "internal dialogue" effectively any way. Anime is about the art of moving pictures. There has to be some kind of action onscreen, otherwise it wouldn't be animation. It'll just be a drawing.

The Sky Crawlers is one recent anime movie that relied heavily on "internal dialogue", but the end result was a show that many viewers found turgid and obtuse, because they couldn't figure out what exactly was going on.

It's in this sense that I argue against glorifying the supposedly "intellectual" heft of anime versus equivalet Western art forms. Sure, it's great to love anime. I do too. But let's not delude ourselves about its supposed importance in the world of art.
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Old 2009-08-21, 03:23   Link #10
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So, I take objection to the OP's suggestion that Western stories appear to lack "internal dialogue" compared to anime. I don't think it's true, based simply on the narrative richness of the stories I've read in English and which, in my opinion, surpass anything yet achieved in graphic art forms. I think it's a narrow opinion that comes from insufficient exposure to the kind of literature already available in the West.
I did not address the OP's point there directly, but I will say here that I agree with you completely. Some of the most powerful modern literary works speak through a very personal, introspective voice. I'm familiar with English literature at least, but I assume this is for many other languages as well. For one, Haruki Murakami's famous "Boku"...

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Visual art has the capacity to make an impact that lasts, yes, but literature, on the other hand, leaves ideas that shape our thoughts for a lifetime.
That, however, is debatable. Images can communicate ideas as can words, though differently. In the right circumstances, they can be powerful -- very, very powerful. Someone brought up the image of the tank man in one of the Tiananmen discussions a while back; that was an excellent example of what images can do.

Artistically, I understand your point that if you show more of the full picture, then the reader will have less room to imagine. And that a medium like manga adds another dimension compared to the novel (an animation, of course, adds yet another level, if not more). But this is hardly the only point of view on it. Colors and voices can impede imagination -- or they can further inspire them. I for one find Spirited Away's colorful world inspiring. Alice in Wonderland's many visual incarnations only further enrich the original text's mystique: one reader imagines her own Alice, then she sees one incarnation different from her own, then another, and another. Minimalists can still cut down on things, leaving room for the reader to fill in. It can be done. It has been done. You said it: it's all subjective. If manga and other comics can be called shallow, then it is not because of the limitations of the mediums but rather the lack of history behind them, how the few masters who left their imprints are not yet numerous enough to compare to the venerable novel in artistic prestige.
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Old 2009-08-21, 11:16   Link #11
Ichihara Asako
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I think it really depends on the type of series, to how acceptable "inner thought" storytelling is. In an intense drama/thriller, you probably want things completely explained via actions and events, while in a harem, the protagonist can just reflect on how he met X girl, and that saves time and effort (on numerous fronts) portraying it. When a few simple seconds of thought would probably do in most such cases, who really cares about the past, you're watching the current story in the present for events that are unfolding now.

Of course, there are many factors involved as to how effective and viable this method is; probably too many to quantify. However I certainly think saying it is "lazy" is a little uncalled for, since I tend to prefer characters just gloss over events that really don't matter to the present story as opposed to long flashbacks, or stringing together things that are exposed over the course of the story that don't actually end up having any impact on it at all. It's often simply redundant character development for the sake of fluffing out word counts or something, which irks me.

So yeah, I think it's fine for characters to think to themselves, as long as it's information that isn't particularly vital to the story that would be better getting properly animated focus of its own, but is still of some sort of value that the viewer should know (a lot of text from the more wordy source can be skipped over, since the detailed art/animation and scoring covers it in anime).
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Old 2009-08-21, 17:53   Link #12
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Simple -- if characters are thinking things instead of talking out loud to themselves, there's fewer mouth movements to animate.
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Old 2009-08-21, 18:39   Link #13
Timdog
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Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Your professor's comment is a creative writing class thing more than anything, I think. Many starting writers have the tendency to "tell" instead of "show," to use an extremely common cliché. As was said above, it's a problem of lazy writing more than a problem of point of view, but it's a lot harder to explain "lazy writing" than to rely on the old cliché as an explanation.

At first I thought you were talking about an anime vs. other cartoons comparison, which would be more interesting. For example, I don't remember any instance where anime-esque inner thoughts are expressed in a Disney cartoon...or a Miyazaki movie. Hmm.


That's a rather unfair comparison, I think. A large number of the more experimental manga simply don't make it overseas. Its relatively short existence and confined geography compared to the novel also puts it at a severe disadvantage. There are an incredible amount of forgettable novels out there both past and present after all, especially genre-based ones (romance novels of various languages, fantasy novels, all those weird 19th century genres, etc.) but we largely remember only the classics.
Heh, show don't tell was the mantra of my creative writing class. I'm glad I've gotten several viewpoints here since I have such little exposure to art in general.

I can see how it's easier to just instruct people to show and not tell when they are starting out.

Perhaps I've just never noticed it in the literature I've read since it seems to flow more easily into the narrative but with anime it sometimes seems a little out of place (might just be my POV). Plays often have "inner thought" through soliloquies and such but I guess it just seems a bit weird listening to a person's inner thoughts as they occur instead of them speaking directly to us. Many movies use the main character as a bit of a narrator, but that seems to work well for me since they are simply telling us how they felt at that time, we aren't hearing their thoughts as they happen. But with written works, it doesn't seem as weird and jarring. I just know that the few times I've seen inner thought used in Western works, it just seemed so out of place. But again, sometimes it does seem to work when it's the character doing a narration using past tense to describe how they felt at that time, like they are telling us their thoughts after they occurred instead of us hearing them right away. I guess it just seems more natural to me while when you actually hear their thoughts, it just doesn't seem very natural.
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Old 2009-08-22, 01:48   Link #14
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I can see how it's easier to just instruct people to show and not tell when they are starting out.
Well, we do have a creative writing thread in this forum. It's difficult to tell how you're getting it "wrong" without seeing examples of your writing so, if you like, you can always post a few samples there.

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Heh, show don't tell was the mantra of my creative writing class. I'm glad I've gotten several viewpoints here since I have such little exposure to art in general.
Broader exposure will definitely help, especially if you're intending to take writing as a profession. However, the "exposure" is not just limited to other forms of art or writing, but also to life in general.

Most fiction writers openly admit that their characters are partly inspired by people they know in real life. They aren't necessarily based on real people, but are often adapted from them.

Just as how an artist would study anatomy to make his drawings more life-like, an author would also benefit greatly from studying how people behave, how they feel, how they think. You need to develop greater empathy for other people, to bring your own characters to life, as realistically as possible.

That brings me to this point you've raised:
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Originally Posted by Timdog View Post
I just know that the few times I've seen inner thought used in Western works, it just seemed so out of place. But again, sometimes it does seem to work when it's the character doing a narration using past tense to describe how they felt at that time, like they are telling us their thoughts after they occurred instead of us hearing them right away. I guess it just seems more natural to me while when you actually hear their thoughts, it just doesn't seem very natural.
It's difficult to say whether the above is a flaw of the Western works you've read or just your subjective opinion. Examples would be helpful.

In any case, like your professor said, in modern creative writing, it's usually better to "show" rather than "tell", for the simple reason that you've already observed: it'll seem unnatural otherwise. This may sound strange, but once you get to know people very well, you'll begin to realise that we often do not "think" the way we honestly feel.

That's why, for dramatic purposes, it's far more effective to show how your characters behave than to take your readers through a monologue. Readers relate to action a lot more easily than they do to dialogue. Speech is just a statement of intent, but will your characters really behave the way they intend? Ah, that's the million-dollar question, isn't it?

Now, it may be a quirk of the English language or Western culture, that somehow makes "inner thought" sound insincere. I've had lively debates with a colleague over the comparative strengths of Mandarin versus English. I've observed, for example, that certain heartfelt emotions are expressed much better in Mandarin than in English. Because of the wealth of poetic idioms available in Mandarin, it's possible for a writer to say a lot, while actually saying very little.

But the moment we try to translate the same sentiment into English, it immediately sounds corny and downright disingenuous. For example, our local politicians are fond of spicing up their English speeches with flowery analogies and high-flown imagery, and the end result is almost always painfully awful. The speechs never fail to sound insincere and, worse, they always end up being tediously long-winded.

However, when a few them switch to Mandarin (or some other Chinese dialect) to deliver their speeches, the effect is entirely different, despite the same liberal use of high-minded idioms. For some reason, such speeches often end up sounding more passionate, more patriotic. I'm not sure why, but they do.

It may well be the case that most of my country's politicians just aren't very proficient in English, and end up mistaking bombastic language for linguistic expertise. If that's the case, I wish they'd just stick to whichever language they're most comfortable with, to deliver what they want to say, as concisely and as emphatically as possible.

And that same rule applies to your writing as well. Don't burden your readers with excessive monologue. Very often, they aren't necessary, because if you can show how your character behaves, according to how he thinks and feels, then we don't really need to "hear" his thoughts at all. Readers can easily put two and two together, once the facts are known.

Hope that helps. Keep at it. Writing is a muscle that grows stronger with practice.

Lastly, if you haven't already done so, try reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The entire novel is written in first-person narrative. Everything in it happens inside the protagonist's mind. What's interesting, however, is that the protagonist is autistic. So, what he sees is very different from what normal people perceive.

The book, in my opinion, is a prime example of "internal dialogue" that's used very effectively, and in an English novel, no less.

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Old 2009-08-22, 09:31   Link #15
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I think one thing a lot of people are missing here is that it's simply cheap to animate. Just throw in a slow pan shot and a voice over, and you have your animation, even though you only had to draw one frame.
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Old 2009-08-22, 12:20   Link #16
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Well, we do have a creative writing thread in this forum. It's difficult to tell how you're getting it "wrong" without seeing examples of your writing so, if you like, you can always post a few samples there.



Broader exposure will definitely help, especially if you're intending to take writing as a profession. However, the "exposure" is not just limited to other forms of art or writing, but also to life in general.

Most fiction writers openly admit that their characters are partly inspired by people they know in real life. They aren't necessarily based on real people, but are often adapted from them.

Just as how an artist would study anatomy to make his drawings more life-like, an author would also benefit greatly from studying how people behave, how they feel, how they think. You need to develop greater empathy for other people, to bring your own characters to life, as realistically as possible.

That brings me to this point you've raised:


It's difficult to say whether the above is a flaw of the Western works you've read or just your subjective opinion. Examples would be helpful.

In any case, like your professor said, in modern creative writing, it's usually better to "show" rather than "tell", for the simple reason that you've already observed: it'll seem unnatural otherwise. This may sound strange, but once you get to know people very well, you'll begin to realise that we often do not "think" the way we honestly feel.

That's why, for dramatic purposes, it's far more effective to show how your characters behave than to take your readers through a monologue. Readers relate to action a lot more easily than they do to dialogue. Speech is just a statement of intent, but will your characters really behave the way they intend? Ah, that's the million-dollar question, isn't it?

Now, it may be a quirk of the English language or Western culture, that somehow makes "inner thought" sound insincere. I've had lively debates with a colleague over the comparative strengths of Mandarin versus English. I've observed, for example, that certain heartfelt emotions are expressed much better in Mandarin than in English. Because of the wealth of poetic idioms available in Mandarin, it's possible for a writer to say a lot, while actually saying very little.

But the moment we try to translate the same sentiment into English, it immediately sounds corny and downright disingenuous. For example, our local politicians are fond of spicing up their English speeches with flowery analogies and high-flown imagery, and the end result is almost always painfully awful. The speechs never fail to sound insincere and, worse, they always end up being tediously long-winded.

However, when a few them switch to Mandarin (or some other Chinese dialect) to deliver their speeches, the effect is entirely different, despite the same liberal use of high-minded idioms. For some reason, such speeches often end up sounding more passionate, more patriotic. I'm not sure why, but they do.

It may well be the case that most of my country's politicians just aren't very proficient in English, and end up mistaking bombastic language for linguistic expertise. If that's the case, I wish they'd just stick to whichever language they're most comfortable with, to deliver what they want to say, as concisely and as emphatically as possible.

And that same rule applies to your writing as well. Don't burden your readers with excessive monologue. Very often, they aren't necessary, because if you can show how your character behaves, according to how he thinks and feels, then we don't really need to "hear" his thoughts at all. Readers can easily put two and two together, once the facts are known.

Hope that helps. Keep at it. Writing is a muscle that grows stronger with practice.

Lastly, if you haven't already done so, try reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The entire novel is written in first-person narrative. Everything in it happens inside the protagonist's mind. What's interesting, however, is that the protagonist is autistic. So, what he sees is very different from what normal people perceive.

The book, in my opinion, is a prime example of "internal dialogue" that's used very effectively, and in an English novel, no less.
Well, I'm definitely not going into writing as a career because I know I'm not very good at it and it doesn't pay very well unless you are very good. I'm much better with video editing, it just seems to come very naturally for me and I can point out why certain things work in movies without even reading up on film theory.

For the translation issue, I overheard a Belgian guy (who spoke Flemish as his first language) say that jokes are the worst thing to translate because they often completely lose their comedic effect and sound very corny and unnatural.

I think inner thought works very well in a first person narrative because we are supposed to feel like we ARE the character so we should be able to know their thoughts. Since you don't get true first person from movies and anime, it doesn't seem as natural to dive into their thoughts all the time. This is mostly because we see everything as an outside observer and not directly through the character's eyes.
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Old 2009-08-22, 15:44   Link #17
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I think inner thought works very well in a first person narrative because we are supposed to feel like we ARE the character so we should be able to know their thoughts. Since you don't get true first person from movies and anime, it doesn't seem as natural to dive into their thoughts all the time. This is mostly because we see everything as an outside observer and not directly through the character's eyes.
Yes indeed, and that's one of the limitations of visual art with respect to literature. Pictures, on their own, aren't very good at communicating thought. They are, on the other hand, superb at conveying emotions.

So, a different approach is required to communicate "inner thought" in movies and animation. Anime, for example, has a tendency to rely on nuances to suggest what a character is thinking, even when he doesn't say anything. The best examples I can think of at the moment appear in the final arc of Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal.

Spoiler for scenes from that anime:

I empathise with the difficulties you encounter when writing. While I do write and edit for a living, I am very far from being a fiction writer. Simply put, I lack the imagination. That said, there are many kinds of writing, and not all professional writers/editors work in fiction.

I'd encourage you to persevere with writing, even if you intend to focus eventually on video-editing, because I believe it would help develop related skills. Just as how pictures can inspire a story, a well-written story can also influence the way you'd edit a picture or movie.

As I've said, a good writer strives to show rather than tell. The same process applies to video-editing too. For example, how would you edit a picture or film to bring out the emotions behind a character? An author wonders about the same thing except, in his case, he'd be thinking about the right words to use, rather than about colours, lighting and cinematography.

So, it's helpful to imagine writing as a way of organising your thoughts into a coherent narrative, a way of training the way you think. After all, there's presumably a reason why you're taking up this creative writing class, no?
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Old 2009-08-22, 17:44   Link #18
roriconfan
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I write too, yet the inner though is mostly the narrator giving his emotional opinion about something. That counts as indirect talking, not showing. Seriously, do people still like Tolkien 5 page descriptions of a town? Or reading about body language than inner thoughts to tell how a character feels?
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Old 2009-08-22, 18:18   Link #19
Timdog
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
So, it's helpful to imagine writing as a way of organising your thoughts into a coherent narrative, a way of training the way you think. After all, there's presumably a reason why you're taking up this creative writing class, no?
No real reason except it fulfilled my art requirement.

I'm not sure if I will even pursue video editing beyond the hobby/amatuer level as there are other careers I'm interested in that would make more money and I'm still interested in the subject matter.

I also felt that my creative writing class wasn't a great experience because my professor was pretty bad. Her own writing wasn't very good and she had an incredibily arrogant personality and played favorites. Plus I found that it was much easier for me to work with visual/audio stuff than with the written material. I do understand that having strong writing skills will help and I do have strong "formal" writing skills (research papers and such) but I just find it hard to write fictional works. Most of the time I can very easily picture what I want to say in my head in movie form, but trying to transfer that to paper is very hard. I've always been a very visual thinker so perhaps that's why I find it hard to write fiction since whenver I get imaginative ideas, they are always in a very visual/audible form.
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Old 2009-08-22, 22:25   Link #20
TinyRedLeaf
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Join Date: Apr 2006
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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Seriously, do people still like Tolkien 5 page descriptions of a town? Or reading about body language than inner thoughts to tell how a character feels?
In a word: Yes.

There is a lyrical quality to Tolkien's writing that I don't find in much fantasy writing today. It's hard to describe, but Tolkien was writing in a form of prose-poetry that only a man of his academic background and experience could have employed effectively. I especially enjoyed his choice of words and names for events and characters in Lord of the Rings. He said so himself in one of his many notes: he chose words not just because of the way they sound but also because of the way they look on paper. The words have to be aesthetically pleasing on both counts.

Compare that with the whole host of ugly nonsense words that many sub-par fantasy writers use today, and it becomes easier to see why Tolkien is considered a master at his craft.

Also, Tolkien is hardly "long-winded" when compared to, say, Victor Hugo, who frequently digressed into side stories that are several tens of pages long in Les Miserables.

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Originally Posted by Timdog View Post
I also felt that my creative writing class wasn't a great experience because my professor was pretty bad. Her own writing wasn't very good and she had an incredibily arrogant personality and played favorites.
Ah. That's unfortunate. In my case, it's the opposite. My love for literature was inspired by a high-school teacher who was brilliant at showing us how to critique and evaluate poetry, prose and plays. By a stroke of luck, perhaps fate, she went on to become my literature teacher in junior college, where I was again lucky to have another few teachers who were particularly good in the subject.

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Originally Posted by Timdog View Post
Plus I found that it was much easier for me to work with visual/audio stuff than with the written material. I do understand that having strong writing skills will help and I do have strong "formal" writing skills (research papers and such) but I just find it hard to write fictional works. Most of the time I can very easily picture what I want to say in my head in movie form, but trying to transfer that to paper is very hard. I've always been a very visual thinker so perhaps that's why I find it hard to write fiction since whenver I get imaginative ideas, they are always in a very visual/audible form.
Well, we're all gifted differently. If you're convinced that's where your talents lie, then go ahead. Interestingly, since you've pointed it out, writers think "visually" too. It wouldn't be possible to describe a character, a setting or an abstract concept otherwise. A writer needs to be able to see with his mind's eye. In this sense, he's no different from any other artist. Only the tools differ.
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