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Thread: Writng thoughts...

  1. #11
    Moderator Steerpike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penpilot View Post
    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.
    Good point. I'd find it strange if an author used tags and italics together.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member FifthView's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
    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.
    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 by FifthView; 8-12-17 at 3:26 PM.

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  4. #13
    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 by Roc; 8-18-17 at 1:09 PM.

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    Moderator skip.knox's Avatar
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    Senior Member Rkcapps's Avatar
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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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    Senior Member DragonOfTheAerie's Avatar
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    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.

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    Moderator T.Allen.Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
    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.
    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.
    "What lasts in the reader's mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what's it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse."
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