Teenage boys don’t think a lot about their emotions.
Teenage boys in books, however, should.
I just finished James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and now I’m on to the sequel, The Scorch Trials. Dashner helps the reader understand what the main character is going through by frequently describing an internal dialogue and set of emotions. The book is fast paced. It’s unlikely that any human person, let alone a teenage boy, would be able to recognize the emotional trauma that the characters in the book encounter. For the reader, however, these insights into the main character’s thoughts and feelings help us get emotionally involved in the story, too.
Dashner expressed in a Writer’s Digest interview that focusing on internal dialogue is intentional:
“Immerse your reader in the story with depth. Another thing I’ve worked hard to improve. In the beginning, I wrote my stories much in the way you’d tell a quick bedtime story. This happened, then this happened, then this happened, etc. I’ve learned patience. Give internal thoughts of the characters—show us what they’re thinking and feeling. Use the five senses when describing setting. Patiently develop scenes, building them to their climax or revelation. It’s a fine line—you don’t want your reader to get bored. But you also don’t want them to feel like you’re just rushing from one cool scene to the next.”
To help the reader really place themselves in the scene, be patient. Describe the thoughts and feelings that a character is having even if the character themselves couldn’t realistically articulate what those emotions actually are.