Gremble’s Narratology, Part II

So mode and voice and focalization are all well and good, but narratology didn’t dazzle me until I read Dorrit Cohn’s Transparent Minds (1978) because it is all about the issue that is the absolute nearest and dearest to my heart: how writers convey a character’s consciousness to the reader. What are the techniques for conveying a character’s thoughts, emotions, and opinions to the audience?

And most crucially: rather than telling the reader what they’re feeling, how do you make the reader feel what they’re feeling?

So Cohn’s interest is how the author goes about telling the readers what’s happening in a character’s head, which, hearkening back to the previous installment of Gremble’s Narratology, means you’re writing either non-focalized narration (aka, a PROMISCUOUS narrator who has NO SHAME about getting all up inside EVERYBODY’S heads) or internally-focalized narration (aka, a monogamous or at least serially-monogamous narrator).

For third-person fiction (still not touching first-person yet), Cohn has isolated the three different techniques for conveying character-consciousness. I stress that she (and I) are calling these techniques, not styles — the style of a work might be characterized by preferring one technique over the others and using it to a more marked degree, but what I’m talking about today operates on a syntatic, line-by-line (sometimes clause-by-clause level), not on the level of the work as a whole.

And again, practically everyone who writes in narratology has made up their own terms for these concepts, but I’m going to use Cohn’s. So — briefly, and in the chronological order in which they were developed, these techniques are:

1) Psycho-narration: the narrator tells us what is going on in the character’s mind, what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling. ex: He wondered what he should do.

2) Quoted monologue: verbatim rendering of the character’s thoughts. ex: What the hell am I going to do? he wondered.

3) Narrated monologue: the character’s thoughts transposed into the narrative mode (third person, usually past tense). ex: What the hell was he going to do?


Psycho-narration is what Cohn calls “the narrator’s discourse about a character’s consciousness” (14), and it is easily the oldest method for communicating feels. As in, Gilgamesh-old, when it tells you that Enkidu “was pleased” to learn that he would meet Gilgamesh, for he “longed for a comrade, one who would understand his heart.”* (Yup: not slash fanfic, but still kinda Brokeback. You’re welcome, guys.)

This was about the only technique available for the majority of pre-modern literature**, and continued to be the preferred technique right up until, oh — probably Joyce, which I suppose means he was good for something after all. It’s not bad per se; modern literature of all varieties still lean on it to a large degree (tried and true, after all), it just turns out that it’s better when used in combination with other techniques.

Furthermore, it’s not always as straightforward as “He felt X” or “She decided Y” — there are a wide variety of different shapes that psycho-narration can take, but the giveaway is usually the presence of a verb before the content of a character’s interiority — felt, suspected, wondered, knew — or having an adjective assigned to their emotions — it made her furious to think that __, he was glad that __, she was indifferent to __.

So the best way to identify it is to step back and ask, Does this sound a third-party explaining to me how the character is feeling?

…And I’m sure there’s a better way to formulate that question. As a rule of thumb, it’s not particularly catchy, but there you have it.

* From the Penguin edition, trans. by N.K. Sandars
** Except for The Tale of Genji, which was written ~1020 and does narrated monologue like a mofo.***
*** See Stinchecum’s “Who Tells the Tale?”

Examples (with psycho-narration underlined):

Castiel was vaguely aware that self-pity was meant to appear at some stage in the cycle of inebriation. He wondered if maybe this was it. (x)

“No, we heard that guy on the radio report it,” says Jordan. “Seriously, Ramirez, what did you say to him to make that impression?”

“Okay, back up!” exclaims Carlos. “What, exactly, did he say?”

Henriette clears her throat. Her Spanish, like her English, has a light French accent, but she lowers her voice and Carlos has no trouble imagining the words coming out of the radio: “Carlos sonrió, y todo él era perfecto, y me enamore inmediatamente.

Adriana spits beer across the table.

“Does me enamorae mean what I think it means?” calls Fleur. (x)

Stone just smiles at him charmingly. Teddy Stone is, like his name suggests, upper-crust and too attractive, the kind of man who gets whispered about at office parties and women call home to their mothers for after one date. He’s dark-haired and blue-eyed, rakish and all grown up, with a square jaw and a chin ass that some people might find attractive. House takes satisfaction in that he learned the phrase “chin ass” from Wilson and so can assume Wilson does not. (x)

It had been a while since Ianto actively feared Jack. Not that he’d forgotten what Jack was capable of — that knowledge was always at the back of his mind. Perhaps he’d finally learned to live with danger, perhaps he’d seen worse things than death by Jack. (x)

Ianto knew, had known from the start, that among the endless spill of sand in Jack’s altered hourglass, Ianto Jones would barely make a few grains. At best, they would be a little shinier than the average by virtue of looking nice in a suit and making good coffee.

But still, it hurt, to stand before Jack and see not one trace of recognition. He’d never thought it’d matter, since he wouldn’t be around to see it, but… clearly some part of him had been young enough to hope. (x)

“Another thing, which by now you may have realised, is that You-Know-Who himself had a Veela strain,” Slughorn said. “His beauty and charisma had a great deal to do with the origins of his army, and of course his Veela wiles enslaved some loyal followers like Bellatrix Lestrange to the last.”

Harry thought back to Tom Riddle in the Pensieve. He supposed he’d been quite easy on the eyes. If you liked them tall, dark and mind-blowing. (Drop Dead Gorgeous, by Maya [no longer available])

“I suppose it would be too much to ask whether you considered anyone else? I’m not the only queer man in MI6. Clarke in Logistics is –”

“An arrogant twat with perpetual halitosis?”

“Well.” There was little to be said to that. And James Bond was vanishingly low on the list of people Q was keen to have sex with, but he already knew he was going to say yes. He never could resist an invitation to tinker with something until it worked better. (x)

After [Okazaki] is done, Hikaru sits back and lets enlightenment wash over him. “So people like you really exist,” he says, feeling he has come across something pretty profound. “Wow.”

“Wow is really not the word I’m looking for here,” Okazaki says miserably. “Do you think we could pretend we’ve never met before and maybe you could leave?” (x)

This excerpt also provides — in the form of “lets enlightenment wash over him” — an example of a particular subcategory of psycho-narration that Cohn mentions briefly and terms psycho-analogy. (Which is a bit too many psychos for me, not to mention that the term “psycho-analogy” has since been co-opted for a type of psychiatric assessment exam, but I don’t have anything better to call it.) It is a form of psycho-narration that uses metaphor or simile to evoke the quality of the character’s thoughts.

Psycho-analogy, like all figurative language, is more likely than other types of writing to polarize into the really good — evocative and original metaphor — and the really bad, metaphors that are cliched and subtle like a sledgehammer. And, because all good drama flirts with melodrama, your mileage may vary, and what sounds trite to you may sound like poetry to someone else. ::le shrug::

“It’s… been a long time since we saw each other,” Dean says instead, because he’d hated admitting Sam was a fucking addict to himself. Scraping it out of his throat to tell Cas of all people feels like the first time he broke a bone — pain sharp enough to knock all the breath out of his body. (x)

Cecil deflates slightly, a confused soufflé of half-baked emotions. (x)

Dean bites back a laugh. He doesn’t remember much about Susan, always knew her through the lens of her husband, but it never feels right to laugh when Cas invites Dean in on these jokes, a little like he’s trampling her grave for no good reason at all. (x)

“Malcolm, no, no,” she begged, but no amount of pleading could stop this. The pain guttered like a candle reaching the end of its wick. Fear faded into a cold, muddled confusion. Into quiet. Into a queerly light, floating regret.

Into darkness…

…and then nothing at all. (x)

Matt shrugged, shifted the phone in his hands and said, “He’s a good guy. He’s a good cook and he’s great with Molly — she adores him — and… he’s a really decent guy, Mom. You’d like him. He’s polite and–”

“Matty,” she said, and she hadn’t called him that in a while, “is this like Steve Waugh back in the eleventh grade?”

It was as if someone had turned the gravity up high and dragged all Matt’s organs to the floor. He took a shallow breath and managed, “Steve?”

“You know,” she said gently, “like you and Steve?”

Matt would have sworn on his grandfather’s grave that his Mom didn’t know about Steve. (x)

As you can see, narrating a character’s mental state can take many different and often very creative forms. And although psycho-narration has gotten sort of a bad rap for being the “telling” rather than the “showing” method of narrating consciousness, telling is not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it’s the only tool for the job.

Because psycho-narration — unlike the techniques that follow — allows for the expression of feelings without words. A person can feel anger before they find the words to express why and how. If someone is dazed, without a single coherent thought in their head, pretty much the only way to convey that is, “She was dazed, without a single coherent thought in her head,” and then maybe toss in a psycho-analogy or three “…as if her mind were a slate that had been abruptly wiped clean” etc.

Psycho-narration doesn’t presuppose that we’re analytical enough to put our mess of thoughts into words, doesn’t assume that we think in complete sentences. This is a matter of continued debate for psychology-types — do we think words? Do we always think in words? I think the answers are pretty obviously “sometimes” and “no,” but hell, everyone’s brains work differently anyhow. What’s true for me might not be true for other people — though for me, I’m pretty sure that most the time my thoughts aren’t verbalized. Hence, the need for psycho-narration.

A fic that uses this to excellent effect is Synecdochic’s Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose, leaning heavily on psychonarration to portray a man shell-shocked and grieving, but doing his damnedest not to think about it, a man going through the motions without being entirely present anymore. It’s a situation in which an external narrator is better-equipped to describe his psyche than the man himself, because psychonarration can tell you what he’s feeling without requiring that the character be able to acknowledge or explain those feelings himself. And heightening that sense of distance, between the man’s feelings and his ability to articulate them without a mediating narrator, is the fic’s paucity of narrated monologue and complete absence of quoted monologue — which leads us to our next section…

Quoted Monologue

This is the next step when it comes to getting a deeper and more immediate (literally, as in, lacking a mediator) view of what’s going on inside characters’ heads: their verbatim thoughts. Setting aside, for now, the question raised in the previous section (just how verbal are our thoughts?), this does allow a more direct view into a character’s consciousness. They get to speak for themselves, rather than being summarized or paraphrased by a narrator.

Quoted monologue is often accompanied by phrases like “he thought” or “she asked herself” (which are called inquit tags — useful term!). In older novels, it’s often put in quotation marks, and sometimes presented as the character talking (aloud?) to him/herself. In modern novels, italics have largely taken over the function of denoting quoted monologue. These are intended to represent an unfiltered, word-for-word report of the thoughts passing through the character’s head.

It turned out to be surprisingly difficult to find fanfic examples of quoted monologue — fanfic tends to find other means of conveying thoughts than tapping directly into the twitter feed that is the character’s head. Cohn doesn’t identify different types or uses for quoted monologue, but as I went through the literature (lol) in search of example sentences, there were two primary uses that jumped out at me. The first is for moments of realization, when a thought crystallizes in the character’s head fully-formed, coming almost as a surprise to them too:

Wherever they are, it’s too far from town to be lit by anything but stars.

We’re going to die before anyone finds us, thinks Carlos, strangely emotionless about the idea. As if he’s burned through his ability to feel things. (x)

It took him a little fumbling to get the DVD in and get it to play. When he did, a strange man’s face came up on the television — strong jaw, cleft chin, spiky brown hair.

“Ianto,” the man said. “I’m really, really not happy about this.”

Oh, god, Ianto thought. I’m in a horror film. I’m in Saw. (x)

“My good boy,” Jakob Lehnsherr says. His hand rests briefly atop Erik’s head, and the pressure of his fingers is comforting even through his cloth cap. Even as he faces his own death, he is thinking only of his son.

I can’t, Erik thinks. I can’t lose them again. (x)

Three days earlier, she’d gotten her final training scores, done the math, and thought, That’s it, then. Twelve years of steadily dwindling hope, finally snuffed out for good. (my untitled unpublished Dredd fic)

The second preferred situation for using quoted monologue is when it’s actually unspoken dialogue — a character’s thoughts are addressed at someone, either at themself or at another person, something that has occurred to them to say, but for whatever reason they’re refraining from saying aloud:

She watched him work for a long minute. Her baby was so unaccountably… grown. She didn’t think she’d ever get over the surprise of it. She kept expecting to look up to see Aidan chubby-cheeked and bright-eyed, singing learning songs to Bethany while Carver tried to hit them both with a wooden spoon. That little boy was in every line of this big, strapping man, and yet, some days, she had to search to see her first-born child behind the careful walls he kept surrounding his daily heartbreak.

Oh my darling, Leandra thought wistfully. How the world has failed you. (x)

“I can’t believe it. You were my hero when I was a boy.”

And this time, you were mine, Erik wants to say. (x)

He’s the one who can’t pull his weight, after all, can’t find a job, some man of the house he is, his wife doesn’t respect him, his daughter doesn’t respect him…

“—and Annie’s out doing god-knows-what until all hours of night, thirteen years old and that girl’s going to be turning tricks soon if you can’t get her in hand, Craig—”

She doesn’t listen to me, he cries out inside. (Dreddfic)

“All right. I brought you in to consult, I guess I should listen to you,” he said, but he sounded disgruntled about it. “You’ve seen and survived him twice, after all.”

More than that, she thought, but held her tongue. (x)

When characters are talking to themselves we usually call it internal monologue, but it’s almost more like an internal dialogue, two halves of the brain that are not in complete agreement haranguing each other. Tellingly, this often manifests in internal dialogue that addresses itself as “you.”

Hell’s bloody bells, it has been way too long since you got laid, Harry Dresden, I schooled myself sharply, desperately trying to get some kind of rein on a situation that was rapidly spiraling out of control. (x)

No, he told himself. No. Absolutely not. Never again. They will kill him sooner or later. You will not allow this to scratch you. (x)

Then he pulled himself together. In just one day you’ve gone from understanding that this is the biggest sacrifice Erik could ever make for you to expecting it of him. Demanding it of him. Stop being so fucking scared and talk this through.

Charles said, very gently, “You know it’s not too late to back out.” (x)

Leto grit his teeth and followed his master through a pair of ornate doors, not allowing his growing fear to show on his face. You chose this, he reminded himself. For Mother. For Varania. They are free, now; bear what you must. (x)

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the best occasions for quoted monologue are when the character is only a step away actually speaking — it’s a thought you could say out loud, to yourself or to another person, but for whatever reason you’re keeping it behind your teeth. It makes sense that that would be the time for verbalized thoughts: when they’re on the verge of being vocalized thoughts.

Although I haven’t done any quantitative research on the subject (yet), my impression is that fanfic uses quoted monologue less often than published fic does (and perhaps uses it differently as well?). Maybe it’s because we as a culture are moving away from the belief that most thought is verbalized, and so our representations of consciousness are changing to reflect that. Maybe it’s because fanfic is pioneering new, more expressive ways of conveying character subjectivity (a theory I will develop over the course of Gremble’s Narratology), that it doesn’t have to rely on quoted monologue.

This is important, because I believe that quoted monologue is also the technique that runs the highest risk of failure, of not “ringing true” — either because it doesn’t feel like a realistic representation of a mental state (too organized, too verbose, too self-aware in its malice, etc) or because the author hasn’t properly captured what it’s like to think a certain way or believe a certain thing, and that is never more obvious than when you’re presuming to put words directly in someone’s mouth.

By contrast, psycho-narration is not particularly subtle, sure, but if you say “rage rose in him,” any given reader can fill in the blanks with what being filled with rage means to them personally, and roll with it. But if you give a verbatim transcription of their thoughts — particularly if it’s an unlikable character, or a character that you don’t identify with much — and you can’t bring much honesty or empathy to the writing of those thoughts, then you leave less room for readers to fill in their own plausible interpretation and run much a greater risk of getting it wrong.

For example: I don’t know what it feels like to be a fundamentalist Christian. For that matter, I don’t know what it feels like to have faith at all, because the evidence would indicate that I’m hard-coded for atheism. It’s not a choice; I’m just not wired to believe in the metaphysical, or to want to. Moreover, having faith is not even a mindset I can plausibly imagine. There are some groups whose interiorities I can hazard a guess at — because their experience may share some parallels with mine even if we don’t overlap in the particulars — but god-bothering? No idea. And accordingly, I would hesitate before writing a fervently religious protagonist, and I wouldn’t dare write one from any recognizable religion, not without a fuckton of research first and probably pestering a bunch of religious folks about what faith feels like to them, because otherwise I can guarantee you I’d get it entirely wrong. Still might. And maybe I’d be able to fudge it in psycho-narration with vague phrases like “He trusted that God had put him on this path for a reason,” but insincere quoted monologue is going to ring so, so false.

(You ever follow right-wing media, and hear what beliefs they put in the mouths of The Left? “They want to ____!!” …Yeah, it’s going to sound like that.)

So either believe it — make yourself believe it, if only briefly — or don’t write it at all.

Narrated monologue

Narrated monologue — in my explanation of Cohn’s narrow formulation of it — is the character’s thoughts (ala quoted monologue, see above) but narrowly transposed to match the narrative mode. Going with the standard narrative mode of third-person, past-tense, this would turn quoted monologue like “What am I going to do?” into narrated monologue like What was he going to do? “I” becomes “he” as the voice shifts from the character to the narrator, and “am” becomes “was” as we adopt the literary convention of past tense.

In other words, narrated monologue is a reflection of the character’s active thoughts and is often strongly in their own idiom (i.e., reflects their unique turn of phrase), but grammatically it looks like narration. It can be harder to identify than the other two, but a good test for it is whether changing the tense/pronouns could turn it into quoted monologue.

Narrated monologue has come to be considered the most sophisticated method for conveying character consciouness, and has garnered a lot of critical attention over the decades, as in nobody can shut up about James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. (Yeah, they’re nice and all, but for fuck’s sake, sing me something new.) It’s also frequently called “free indirect style” or “free indirect discourse,” but I’m going to stick with Cohn’s term “narrated monologue” here, for three reasons:

(1) “Narrated monologue” is a more concrete description of what’s going on than the hazy “free indirect.”

(2) Calling it a “style” or a “discourse” is very misleading; it’s not a style, it is a mechanism that is deployed on a sentence-by-sentence (or even clause-by-clause) level. Entire books have been called “free indirect style,” when I guarantee you that not every sentence in the book is narrated monologue.

(3) “Free indirect” can also be used on dialogue, and what we’re looking at here is specifically ways of rendering thoughts

Examples, with more analysis than the ones above, because narrated monologue can be harder to wrap your head around:

Arthur says, “There are things I’m supposed to be doing,” but he can’t remember, exactly what they are, and now that he thinks about it his head hurts wondering how long he’s been in Paris instead of in Boston, if he’s missed a lot of classes. Holy shit, how did he let Mal talk him into this? He’s going to fail out of this semester and have to take everything over, and then it’s another six or nine months wasted, an eternity, and so much money, too, down the fucking toilet, and— (x)

This paragraph goes from dialogue (obvs: “Arthur says, …”), to psycho-narration (“he can’t remember”, “he thinks about”, “wondering how long”), to narrated monologue (underlined portion). It follows the rule of thumb for narrated monologue, which is that changing the pronouns (not the tense, in this case, since the story is already in present tense) could turn it into quoted monologue: “How did I let Mal talk me into this? I’m going to fail out this semester…”

Across the way, he saw two men who were obviously gay walking along, one with his arm slung casually around the other’s shoulders. It took Charles’ breath away to see it – both their confidence and the utter nonchalance with which their togetherness was treated by those nearby.

Could he take Erik’s hand? How incredible that would feel, to hold Erik’s hand in front of the whole world–

–but no. His security guards would see them, and after that, they’d know the truth. (x)

I’ll go into more detail in later installments about the textual cues that signal free indirect discourse, but for now, take note of the question (“Could he take Eric’s hand?), the affective phrasing (“How incredible”), and the abrupt cut-off/turnabout as he changes his mind (“–but no”).

It’s slightly depressing that the only two men who have ever shown interest in him mostly just want to sleep with him, Hikaru thinks, but maybe there’s something to be said about having sex once and moving on. After all, he has to defend his title in a few months, and all signs point to the challenger being Touya; even if Tani-whatever wanted to be his, oh my god, boyfriend, he’d probably have to say no. Anyway, as if he knows the guy. (x)

This is a trickier one because the inquit tag (“Hikaru thinks”) makes you want to interpret it as either psycho-narration (the narrator is telling you what Hikaru thinks, yes?) or as quoted monologue. And while it is a monologue, a blow-by-blow of the path Hikaru’s thoughts are taking (and therefore not psycho-narration), it is not being directly quoted, otherwise it would read, “After all, I have to defend my title in a few months… even if Tani-whatever wanted to be my, oh god, boyfriend, I’d probably have to say no.” (Which can also be transposed into “you” instead of “I.”)

Also relevant in this example are Hikaru’s idiom bleeding through into the narration (“Tani-whatever” and “oh god”) and the little phrases/conjunctions that are more common to speech than narration (“After all”, “Anyway”), both of which are highly characteristic of narrated monologue.

And then [a reporter] pushes to the front and around the other questions about what just happened, he asks, “Ms. Stark, is it true you’re sleeping with Steve Rogers, aka Captain America?”

Like she doesn’t know who Steve fucking Rogers is. (x)

Again, use of profanity situates it in the character’s idiom.

But she only keeps making that Jesus mother of fuck face at him, because Dean guesses it’s one thing to participate in the family sport of calling Dean a manwhore and another to see Dean in medias something Dean’s not calling a cuddle. The worst part is no sex was even involved. Jesus Christ, Dean thinks with detached horror, last night, he might have cried. In front of another person. (x)

And here, like in the Inception example above, we start to see something interesting when it comes to using these techniques in combination: that the smoothest progression goes psycho-narration, to narrated monologue, to (optionally) quoted monologue.

Cohn observes that this is the optimal order for the three techniques, which sounds awfully mechanical (like that good writing = obeying specific rules, an idea that most creative types are going to rebel against), but that order isn’t coincidental. It would seem to mimic the way human cognition works — that a knee-jerk emotion hits us, and then we find the words to work out what that means, how we feel about it, how we interpret those feelings. Thus, psycho-narration comes first, because it doesn’t require the character’s words. It’s followed by narrated monologue, halfway between quotation and narration, and then often concludes with quoted monologue, when the character finally has enough of a grasp on the situation to verbalize it to him/herself.

“In every instance the inner happenings are presented in “ascending” order, with the narrated monologue wedged between the other two techniques, bridging the gap between wordless emotion and emotional words.” (Cohn, p.135)

Since fanfic tends to be sparing with quoted monologue, it often omits the last step, but examples of the one-two punch of psycho-narration/narrated-monologue are legion:

[And since underlining won’t quite cut it anymore: psycho-narration, narrated monologue, quoted monologue]

Condoms and quite a nice grade of lubricant; Q wished he could have been a fly on the wall when one of the deadliest men in the world was frowning over his lubricant choices. Would [Bond] have flushed when he brought the bottle to the cashier? Probably not. He had amazing control over his face. (x)

With psycho-analogy in lieu of psycho-narration:

He glanced over the board, just in time to meet Charles’ blue eyes. They both smiled, but looked back down immediately – as though the jolt that had gone through Erik at that moment was entirely mutual.

Was it wishful thinking on Erik’s part? Or were his instincts telling him the truth?

My God, he thought. The Prince of Wales is gay. (x)

It was strange being outside with [her mage staff] in the full light of day, and if the sound of crackling flames and snarling darkspawn weren’t nipping at their heels, she may have actually enjoyed the unexpected breath of freedom. She couldn’t remember a time when her magic was the least of the worries weighing her down. She almost felt like a child again. She almost felt… good. Was this how she’d feel every day if Anders had his way and the power of the Chantry was overturned?

Focus, Bethany, she chided herself, picking up speed. Survive today and worry about an improbable future tomorrow. (x)


In reality, the lines between these techniques are not always clear cut. Psycho-narration and narrated monologue can blur when there’s ambiguity about whether the character is merely feeling something, or whether they’re thinking about that feeling. “He hated space pirates” is straightforward psycho-narration, while “Christ, but he hated space pirates” has all the cues of narrated monologue. And sometimes a line can be interpreted either way even in the absence of those cues:

Well, it couldn’t hurt to try. She knew of no one who’d come by harm through praying. (x)

First sentence is obviously narrated monologue — what to make of the second though? Did she think, “No one’s ever come to harm through praying,” which the narrator then paraphrased as something she “knew” (psychonarration); or did she think “I don’t know of anyone who’s come to harm by praying” (in which case it’s narrated monologue).

His perception really was screwed to hell, he noticed hazily. (x)

Again, this would be straightforward psychonarration if not for that pesky little concessive “really,” which makes it ring like the character talking to himself. Honestly, trying to figure out whose voice are we hearing? can be like crossing your eyes and trying to see both the faces and vase at the same time:

He sees it as a personal failure. And part of him knows that is ridiculous. Men are allowed to want, men are allowed to get cloudy now and again, to be happy. But he is not a man, he is a Templar and a Commander and a Champion and an armful of other titles he is unable to live up to properly. He is such a base creature, at heart. Such a weak, physical thing. He wants for only for rest, food and flesh; when he doesn’t want for flesh, he wants for Lyrium. (x)

“Take it off,” he says, bumping at the hem of Cullen’s shirt. So Cullen does.

He’s still not used to thinking on his feet, but he’s excellent at following orders. (x)

Dean Winchester was not, contrary to the opinions of many (often including himself), an idiot. He knew what love was, thanks. It was what kept him running back into fire, time and again, for Sam. For Bobby, sometimes, if he really needed him. (x)

Cohn also observes that when fiction is already in present-tense, we lose half of the markers that distinguish quoted monologue from narrated monologue. Which, particularly in the presence of inquit tags, can render a lot of lines pretty ambiguous — although alas, I do not have any examples.

She concludes by theorizing that as authors continue to develop new ways of closing the gap between narrator and character, the lines will start to blur even further. And as I think this is already happening, and fanfic is on the vanguard of it, that is what future installments of Gremble’s Narratology will investigate.


Again, I invite you to jump in with standout examples of psycho-narration, quoted monologue, and narrated monologue. Questions? Comments? Got a line that you can’t figure out how to analyze? Let me know! And if you catch any quotes that I forgot to source, please to alert me so I can fix it.

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