Thoughts and Internal Voices

Here’s another “what if” statement. I’ve been in a “what if” mood lately…

What if you could hear people’s thoughts?

I think, at some point, we’ve all wished that we could read someone else’s mind or hear the thoughts of another human being. But if you think about that more deeply, you’d think that it probably wouldn’t be such a great idea after all. People think many terrible things, a lot of which would surprise and shock and make others think less of that person. We might find out secrets we were never meant to hear. It’d be like opening Pandora’s box, in a way.

In XIII, one of my characters can hear the thoughts and voices of others. Not the thoughts of every single person in the world, which would be overwhelming, but only the thoughts of certain other characters, and I couldn’t say who they are because that’s a spoiler. It’s difficult to portray people’s thoughts in writing. William Faulkner did it in a stream-of-consciousness style, and that’s what I’ve been trying to emulate, but thoughts can’t really be written down.

I realized that today as I was driving home from work. My own thought patterns kept wandering. One minute I’d be thinking of what I’d be having for dinner and the next minute I was thinking about writing and the next minute I was thinking about personal dramas. There wasn’t any continuity or flow or “artistry” about it. It was a jumble. Or maybe that’s just my mind. Another person’s thoughts might be a little bit more organized and less scatterbrained.

Either way, it reminded me of how difficult it is to capture the thoughts of others in a realistic way… and how I honestly would never want to be privy to the thoughts of another.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts and Internal Voices

  1. There’s a great Buffy episode about this very thing, not that I’m a Whedonite or anything. 😉 Sounds like a cool thing for your character though.


  2. I have a character who can do anything. I wrote a conversation between her and a friend about this once. The friend (Pete) was trying to figure out what another character was thinking. “Don’t ask me,” said Randi (the omnipotent one). “I don’t read minds, you know.”

    Pete laughed. “I thought you could do anything.”

    “I didn’t say I couldn’t; I said I didn’t. If you’d expect ever read one, you wouldn’t ask why.”


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