1. Lazy_Otaku271
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    Lazy_Otaku271 New Member

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    Wouldn't you like to know.

    A Thought On Thoughts

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Lazy_Otaku271, Mar 13, 2011.

    I was wondering about how to express thought in my writing. I normally use single quotation marks around the thought ('I wonder what is for dinner?') and double quotation for speech ("I'm going to get a burger."). But I've seen others separate thoughts in different ways, such as italics.

    So I was wondering which one I should use, and with way would be expected by a publisher if I ever decide to try and publish a story. What do you guys think?

    P.S.: Sorry about the food examples. As you can tell I'm kinda hungry at the time of posting.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You should present them as ordinary unquoted text.

    This may help: He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue.
     
  3. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Single quotes would be very confusing, since single quotes are often used for dialogue in the UK and other commonwealth countries.

    Italics are fine in my book; I've seen a lot of folks say that you shouldn't use italics, but I've also seen a lot of very good authors use italics, so I would say to use them if you want, just don't let them be a crutch by relying on them, rather than the words themselves, to indicate a thought. If you choose not to use italics, though, use regular text.
     
  4. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Look at how your favorite author handles thoughts.

    Here's an example of how I handle thought.

    "Unlike North, Godfrey relied on maps--not that North had anything against maps, but it was just that to get a map of the area, he would have had to make one himself. It was easier to lie. After all, Godfrey trusted him. It made him more gullible than most people."

    As you can see, though the POV character North is thinking these things, it's written in a way that describes what he's thinking rather than quoting it word for word. I don't think many people think in actual, intelligible sentences anyway. I think in concepts, feelings, and vague abstractions myself. Thought doesn't translate directly into English.

    Of course, if you're using a thought like "Why did it have to rain tonight?", just leave out the quotes.

    "Why did it have to rain tonight? She pulled the hood of her jacket over her head and stalked out."
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    " " looks like speech to me.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't use quotes or italics or anything for thoughts--I'd just write them. Two examples (not great ones; it's late!) follow:

    Third person:

    Jane prowled the kitchen distractedly. What did she want for dinner? What did John mean by that remark? Was he angry? Was he offended? Was he being sarcastic? What was she doing in the kitchen anyway? Oh, right, dinner. Forget this cooking thing; time for a burger. She collected her jacket and keys and headed for the door.

    First person:

    I crashed around the kitchen, distracted and grumpy. What did I want for dinner? And what did John mean by that remark? He sounded angry. Or offended. Or sarcastic. I never can accurately detect sarcasm; there ought to be a law requiring that it be labeled or something. I found myself staring at the label on a can of cat food and decided that cooking was far too risky in this mental state. So I grabbed my jacked and keys and headed out for a burger.

    ChickenFreak
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do mine like Chicken Freak being first person most of my stories are thoughts.

    Where I have after much deliberation opted for italics are when someone else is reading my MCs thoughts and they are having a conversation with the other person answering my MCs thought questions.

    I wish the irritating idiot would just leave.

    I will go when I have accomplished the task I came to do.

    Although I could but he thought after every sentence and he said after the others I chose this.
     
  8. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    My preferred method is to use italics when talking about direct thoughts, i.e. what a person is saying in their head, and plain text when talking about indirect thoughts, i.e. just saying what they are thinking. Here's a completely contrived example:
    as opposed to
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Publishers expect no italics and definitely no quotes.

    I realise there are writers who break those rules, but they are well-established...
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually it is generally the publisher that breaks the italics rules.

    I've chosen mine as a combination of a choice of style and a courtesy to the reader in a fairly unusual situation.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. Many writing sins are committed at the typesetter's station. Unfortunately, this is one that fools many new writiers into thinking italics are just an attribute they can apply anywhere they feel a need to make text stand out.

    There are specific rules about when to use italics, and unspoken dialogue is not one of them.

    This has been endlessly debated here, and each member will ultimately accept or reject the recommendation to render literal thoughts in unadorned, unquoted text.

    You will never go wrong by following the recommendation, and it will force you to make it clear by context that it is literal thought. On the other hand, you will annoy at least some submissions editors if you do use italics for literal thoughts.

    However, it's your manuscript.
     

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