Writng thoughts...

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by pmmg, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. pmmg

    pmmg Grandmaster

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    So, I get that there are no real rules for this type of thing, and usually I muddle through with whatever punctuation seems to fit best, but I wonder which of the below you would prefer for writing out thoughts that read like dialog, but are not really spoken.

    I just wrote this one, and the question popped up for me again.


    1) This could be it, she thought. This could be where she fell.

    or

    2) 'This could be it,' she thought. 'This could be where she fell.'

    or

    3) "This could be it," she thought. "This could be where she fell."


    (Edited to add italics)

    or

    4) This could be it, she thought. This could be where she fell.


    Or perhaps something entirely different?

    For me, I tend to never use double quotes for this, but occasionally use single quotes, and perhaps at times use italics.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  2. Aurora

    Aurora Mystagogue

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    I always italicize thoughts.
     
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

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    Persnally, I like italics for direct thoughts.
     
  4. pmmg

    pmmg Grandmaster

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    Really, I did not include that one as an example as I thought it would be the least favored... Shows what I know.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Staff Moderator

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    I don't italicize thoughts, though it doesn't bother me either, as it does some people. In the examples provided above, I wouldn't use italics OR tags.

    To give an example that requires some words added to your original:

    Renee knelt just at the edge of the manicured park grounds. A tree matching Kylee's description stood only a few feet away, the grass around it trampled and pressed to the earth. This could be it. This could be where she fell. She put on her gloves and approached the tree carefully.

    In that example, you're in such a close POV you don't need direct thoughts. If I was in a more distant point of view, I might go with italics, but I tend not to write in distant POVs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Staff Moderator

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    Apparently there is a contingent of people within publishing that dislikes it.
     
  7. TheCrystallineEntity

    TheCrystallineEntity Dark Lord

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    My characters are telepathic, so even their 'speech' is in italics.
     
  8. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

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    Once italicized, you don't really need the she thought. Personally I dislike italicizing anything that isn't a direct thought. If italicizing for stress, IMO, do it rarely.
     
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    I always use italics for thoughts. Anything else looks strange to me.
     
  10. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    IMHO, if you're going to use italics like that, don't bother with the tag "she thought." It's already implied by the italics that these are her thoughts.

    For me personally, it's pretty rare that I use thought tags like "she thought." I write close POVs, so it's very rare that I'd use italics either.

    I'd simply cut to the chase and write, "This could be it. This could be where she fell."

    To me, it's simple, clean, and IMHO, without the "she thought" keeps you closer inside the POV's head space.
     
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  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Staff Moderator

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    Good point. I'd find it strange if an author used tags and italics together.
     
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  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istari

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    Yeah, Herbert used tags with italics in Dune, writing third omniscient.

    She's been caught in the sandslide, he thought. Buried in it.

    But that's not the only way he did it in the book, or not quite. Sometimes he's more direct, with a colon:

    And she thought: How stiffly formal I speak to my own son!

    He does this a lot.

    Sometimes he just leaves off the tag or intro altogether.

    It's probably a stylistic thing—plus, a decision to emphasize the thought, draw a slightly sharper attention to it. I'd say that even with such a goal, that's stylistic insofar as he made the personal decisions to emphasize the particular thoughts.

    I do think that close/intimate third can benefit from blending the thinking with the rest of the narrative: less separation between narrator, character, and ultimately reader in that case. Not italicizing the thoughts or using a tag.

    Even in third intimate, I'd have no problem with italicizing some thoughts when the author wants to make a distinction between literal thoughts (word-for-word) and the more nebulous sense of impressions rather than thoughts; or, for drawing special emphasis.

    Edit: I suppose with third omniscient, an author might want to deliver the sense of dipping out, dipping in, dipping out...rather than being submerged in the POV.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
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  13. Roc

    Roc Lore Master

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    If I put in my two cents, I would say use: [thought], she thought. No italics. As someone mentioned, there is an emerging standard in the publishing industry to erase distracting grammar—too many commas, apostrophes, capital letters, etc.—and italics is one of those things. Some people refer to it as open style, rather than closed style. Essentially, it's now modern not to use italics. Many of the posters here who use italics have done so for a long time, and that's how they do it, and there's nothing wrong with it. To me it's like double spacing after a period—it's fallen out of fashion (though it's a rather apples/oranges example for me to use).

    Grammar rules are ALWAYS changing, and it's best for new writers to use the new ways, as publishers are more likely to pick them up and sell to a "modern" audience (quotes around words to emphasize are also falling out of favor too).

    Perhaps we will one day move towards a heavier style of grammar, but it's now modern to use a light style.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    New ways, new ways ... I dream of wires.
     
  15. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Mystagogue

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    I tend toward the same as Steerpike and Penpilot. There has to be a specific purpose if I tag "she thought" - like clarity for the reader. Again, that's because I write close third person. As long as you're comfortable with a way, choose and stick to it. It's like your signature.
     
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  16. I realized that i haven't really considered this much. Probably because I write in such a close POV that direct thoughts can be blended with the narrative without much trouble.
     
  17. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    This is my chosen method too. I like to blend the thought directly in with the narration. As long as it's clear the POV is thinking these thoughts, no more is necessary. There are occasions, however, where you may need the tag, "he thought", for clarity, but most times it isn't necessary.

    Reading thoughts in italics doesn't bother me as a reader. However, as a writer, I choose to reserve italics use for enunciation/emphasis in dialogue.
    For example:

    "Girlfriends? Yeah, every night he has a new one. Are you trying to tell me she's the one?"

    This use of italics is meant to cue the reader the italicized word is said differently, and for emphasis, much like we hear in spoken language.

    My thinking is this.... Choosing to use italics for enunciated dialogue is more important to me since I can achieve the same effect without italicizing thoughts.
     
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  18. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

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    I'm the exact opposite, I hate italics for emphasis, too much will make me quit reading a book. Annoys the bejeebers out of me.

     
  19. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Too much of anything is typically bad... Well, most things.

    But, yes. I use italics for emphasis sparingly, when it is needed for dialogue to be said a certain way.
     
  20. pmmg

    pmmg Grandmaster

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    Fifth, I am very impressed that you would even know this about Herbert. I read a lot of books (many years ago), but unless I had read them very recently, I don't think I would recall this detail at all.
     
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