William Doonan

I write books and stories.

Guest Blogger – James R. Callan

with 13 comments

Greetings Friends,

Today, novelist James Callan has some choice words about Internalization, the subject of his new book.  Hope you enjoy.


 How many times have you said, “What was he thinking?”  Sometimes that may be in disbelief: how could he have done that?  Or perhaps: what he said doesn’t sound like him. Or maybe: what is his real motivation for that? Or even: he’s not saying anything, but he’s got to be thinking about it.

And more often than not, we never know what he was thinking.  Even the NSA cannot know what we are thinking – unless we choose to put it in an e-mail or a phone call.

That’s where the fiction writer has the advantage. We can know what one of our characters is thinking.  And we can share some of that with the reader. This is a great weapon.

We do this with internalization, internal dialog.  Internalization has three important advantages for the writer.  First, it can tell the reader how the character really feels about something rather than what the outward appearance of the character might reveal.  (For my examples, I’ll put the internalization in italics.)

Example: Two women meet at a class reunion. Natalie says to Janice,

Hi. Glad to see you here. Someone had said you wouldn’t be able to make it this year.” 

Here we have two friends meeting, apparently glad to see one another. But suppose we have a little internalization from Natalie.

And if I’d known you were coming, I’d have stayed home. 

We get two attitudes from Natalie; “Hi, glad to see you.” And “I’d have stayed home.” Which is the reader going to believe? Without a doubt, the internal thought. Why? Since no one else can hear this, why wouldn’t it be the truth?

Second, internalization can reveal the true moral compass of a character.  This is different from number one above which is just her true feeling about a specific thing.

Example: Ryan leaned against the booth, hoping no one else came to try and pitch a quarter into one of the small dishes. I hate these charity things. If the poor people would get out and get a job and work like I do, they wouldn’t be poor. If I didn’t think this might help me get Mildred in the sack, I wouldn’t be within a mile of this sham.

This tells the reader much more about Ryan than Natalie’s bit of internal dialog. This goes to the core character of Ryan.

The third advantage of internalization is the most important: the reader will believe it. Internal thoughts are private. No one else is privy to them. We can think them. It’s okay. They’re private. So, they might as well be the truth.

We all have some feeling that we don’t share with anyone, not our mother, or best friend, or spouse. So, we know the internal thoughts of a character will be true.  We will believe them.

Three quick caveats. Internalization can only come from the POV character.  Second, don’t overwhelm the reader with too much internal dialog. That means, don’t use long segments, and don’t have too many segments. It will lose its power and you may lose your reader. And third, don’t give the reader access to the internal dialog of many characters, even if they have the POV at the time. That may lead to confusion. As a rule, limit it to the protagonist and possibly the antagonist.

Internalization is a powerful tool. Use it, but use it wisely.

Internalization is discussed at length in James Callan’s new book, How to Write Great Dialog, Oak Tree Press, 2014.


After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He has written articles for a national magazine, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his fifth book released in 2013.  His work has also appeared in a number of anthologies. In addition to writing, Callan presents workshops in the U.S., Mexico, and on the Internet on various phases of writing



Written by williamdoonan

January 14, 2014 at 2:49 am

Posted in Writing

Mummies in print!!!

with 2 comments

On behalf of BookYear Mysteries, I am thrilled to announce that my illustrated horror mystery ‘The Mummies of Blogspace9‘ is now available in print!

No longer will you have to pore over a tiny Kindle screen.  Now, the genuine organic free-range paper pages turn crisply, backlit only by whatever you have going on.


The Mummies of Blogspace9 is a taut, high-stakes thriller about a team of archaeologists who inadvertently dig up more than they bargained for. Demons of antiquity are not easily amused, nor are those who’ve sold their souls to protect them.
“None of us knew what was at stake. And that’s the thing about archaeology – you never know what you’ll find when you start digging into an ancient pyramid. Maybe some burials, mummies even. But surely not a five hundred year-old secret worth killing for. Had I known at the onset that seven weeks later most of my friends would be dead, I would have left Peru in a heartbeat. But of course I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that a demonically-possessed Spanish Grand Inquisitor would haunt the crap out of us, or that a pair of undead conquistador knights would help us find the secret to putting down walking mummies. And surely, I wouldn’t have just sat around had I known that something was watching from inside that pyramid, some malevolent force that could animate the dead. But it’s all true, as you’ll come to realize.”
Spend a few hours reading the five-star reviews, and Be sure to get your copy today!

Written by williamdoonan

January 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Visions of Sugarplums: One Elf’s Descent into Madness

leave a comment »

I am trilled to announce today that the fine folks over at Every Day Fiction have chosen my flash fiction piece to turn into a podcast.  Seriously, they did a great job with this, so if you want to listen to eight minutes of pure fun, press this word coming up, the one that says LISTEN.  Yeah, that one, the one that just said listen.  And if you like the story, please be sure to vote the number of stars on the page.  If I get enough stars, I win riches and fame!


have a listen at – http://www.everydayfiction.com/podcast-edf149-visions-of-sugarplums-one-elfs-descent-into-madness-by-william-doonan-read-by-brian-j-hunt/

Written by williamdoonan

December 23, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Mediterranean Grave is free today!!!

with one comment

Stop the online presses!!!!
Today only (and also tomorrow) Amazon is giving away copies of Mediterranean Grave for FREE!!
Here's the cover- it came out great!

Here’s the cover- it came out great!

Supplies of these e-books are limited, so be sure to download your copy today. And remember, they make great stocking stuffers!

Henry Grave is an investigator for the Association of Cruising Vessel Operators. A World War II P.O.W., Henry is as cunning as he is charming, and at 84 years of age, he fits right in with his fellow passengers. The cruising yacht Vesper is anchored off the Greek island of Thera, in the caldera of an ancient volcano when Henry comes aboard. An Egyptian federal agent was onboard to guard a valuable Minoan cup, but the agent was murdered and the cup, stolen. With the help of a Nicaraguan soap opera star, a New Age spiritualist, and a blind pickpocket, Henry draws on skills honed in a Nazi prison camp to track down a killer who might have his own reasons for taking this particular cruise, reasons unrelated to the sumptuous meals, delightful shipboard activities, and exciting ports of call.

12 million people take a cruise each year.
Most have fun.
Some die.
Henry Grave investigates.

Written by williamdoonan

December 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Who is Nikolai Gorodish

leave a comment »

If you’re like me, you’ve been trying to answer this question for a very long time.  Please join me over at NovelSpaces to help resolve a vexing plot issue.


Written by williamdoonan

December 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized