1. godsandgenerals4ever
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    godsandgenerals4ever Member

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    Character thoughts: how do you like to render them?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by godsandgenerals4ever, Mar 31, 2012.

    I like rendering the thoughts of my characters in italics a la Judy Blume, Dan Brown, and Tom Clancy. They set them apart from spoken dialogue in a creative way that tells the reader exactly how to tell the two apart.

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    How do you like to render the thoughts of your characters, folks?
  2. killbill
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    killbill Member

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    I think editors and publishers mostly decide if 'thoughts' should be italicize. I prefer to write without such visual tricks because it forces me to write with clarity. A reader should be able to know if a sentence is 'thoughts' from the context.
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Again?

    Forget what you see in books in print. In manuscript, character thoughts should be rendered in plain text, no quote marks. Use dialogue tags as you would for spoken dialogue, which is to say use them as needed for clarity.

    There are specific situations that call for italics, and unspoken dialogue is not one of them.

    I won't waste more time explaining it in this thread. If you want to know why I assert this, read one of the dozens of threads already posted on this topic. Many dozens, in fact.
  4. Protar
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    Protar Member

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    Personally I prefer to use italics, as it helps clarify for myself so I can see at a glance that the line is my character's thoughts. I see no good reason why not to do this but I will of course be sure to find your posts cog.
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can do a site search and find the countless other threads on this subject... a much better option, imo, than keeping yet another thread going on the same topic, thus making the senior members here have to repeat themselves... or, [as with me] not bother sharing their opinions and expertise at all, having already done so too many times to count...
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

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    From somewhere I once read that you should underline any text that are meant to be italicised later. I have no idea if this is actually true.

    But for myself, I'm sticking to underlining for now, because it marks them out and more importantly, you can find them very easily on the print preview screen. Should any agent specify that they don't like it, or my editor says to remove them, then it's a simple matter of print preview, zoom in and undo the highlight. It's an awful lot easier than if you find someone who wants internal dialogue marked in whatever way and then having to read every last line of your MS looking for those bits.
  7. Erato
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    Erato New Member

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    I always do character thoughts in plain text. Sometimes I use tags like "he thought" and "she thought," but I don't usually find that I need them. Most of the time it's obvious that the character is thinking the thought.
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Senior Member Contributor

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    I don't use anything to make thoughts more evident, sometimes I add a "dialogue tag" but most of the times I don't, I just try to make it as clear as possible that it's the character thinking. I think we must give the readers a little more credit, most of the times I think it's quite obvious when the character is thinking something even without any particular change like quotation marks or italics.
  9. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine New Member

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    I don't use anything at all, simply because it's not decided by me how to lay it out if I want my work Published. But how you lay out your work is up to you.
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is true. The standard way to denote italicized text in a manuscript is underlining. Manuscript format is based on typewritten manuscripts, and most typewriters cannot generate italics.

    Most, if not all, modern publishers will accept italics as italics in a manuscript, but check the guidelines.
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you do that, make sure you're using a font that italics show up clearly in, since some fonts don't look that different from regular to italic...

    notice that in courier, the difference isn't that easily noticed... which is why i still advise mentees and clients to underline, since editors and those who turn the mss into print, who have to deal with mss all day, every day, can't miss the underline, but can easily miss seeing italics...
  12. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Member

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    I've noticed that a lot of YA fiction uses italics and it seems a lot of writers don't have much faith in a reader's ability to comprehend unspoken dialogue. In the end, if it doesn't make sense without italics then the problem is the content and not the form. There are numerous ways to show an audience a thought, as outlined above.
  13. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix New Member

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    This. It's possible to spot the thoughts of a character because of the sentence itself -- at least in my opinion. I don't believe there's an actual need for italics... But whatever, just makes my life easier.
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen to that!
  15. Ettina
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    Ettina New Member

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    I usually just work them into the regular text. My style's a little different in first versus third person.

    In first person, everything is basically what the protagonist is thinking, so I can just directly throw in thoughts. Here's an example from one of my stories(the protagonist Jilar is a kind of a zombie vampire cross, and his brother Tariq hunts undead):

    In third person, I usually go by describing the thoughts instead of saying them word-for-word. For example (in this story kids are being tested to decide if they have the potential to become monks, a kind of mage serving an Eldritch God):

  16. aimeekath
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    aimeekath New Member

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    This.
  17. Show
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    Show New Member Contributor

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    I got no clear method. I decide as I write. Saves on stress.
  18. Ventis
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    Ventis New Member

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    I write in free indirect style. However, sometimes I want to stress something, and make it the character's direct comment by switching from the third person to the first. That sentence is always in italics - or underlined, if it's in a manuscript style.
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