The perils of writing interior monologues in narrative journalism

Matthew Ricketson

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


The interior monologue is perhaps the most controversial element of what is variously called narrative journalism, literary journalism, creative non-fiction or narrative non-fiction. Many practitioners and critics argue it is impossible to accurately convey a person’s innermost thoughts and feelings while some say that it is possible, if difficult. A small minority are unconcerned by any issues that may arise in journalists and other non-fiction writers writing interior monologues for the subjects of their stories. There is certainly no consensus on the issue. This paper examines what it is about the interior monologue that makes it so contentious. It draws on a review of contemporary practice and criticism, including an analysis of views offered by 19 leading practitioners interviewed by American scholar Robert Boynton and on interviews conducted by this paper’s author with leading Australian practitioners: John Bryson, Helen Garner, Chloe Hooper, Malcolm Knox, David Marr and Margaret Simons, and on analysis of the work of another, Estelle Blackburn. This review of contemporary practice is presented as suggestive rather than conclusive. It finds only seven of the 26 practitioners have written interior monologues.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Strange Bedfellows or Perfect Partners Papers: the refereed proceedings of the 15th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, 2010
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherThe Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780980757330
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventStrange Bedfellows or Perfect Partners: The role of literary studies in creative writing programs - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Nov 201027 Nov 2010


ConferenceStrange Bedfellows or Perfect Partners: The role of literary studies in creative writing programs


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