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  1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Character thoughts quotes or no

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by doggiedude, Feb 19, 2016.

    I'm wondering if quotes are needed when a character speaks to themselves.
    example
    Frank noted that the man had gone from scheduling a quick few minutes to an afternoon in a couple of short sentences, “typical salesman” he thought to himself.
    or
    Frank noted that the man had gone from scheduling a quick few minutes to an afternoon in a couple of short sentences, typical salesman.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer the second version, though I'd use a period instead of a comma and have "typical salesman" as its own sentence.
     
  3. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    I'm with Steerpike on this one. Quotes are for dialogues, using them for thoughts would just confuse the readers as to when a character is thinking and when he/she's speaking aloud.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Agreed. Use quotes for spoken dialogue, and don't use quotes for thoughts.
     
  5. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with everyone else.
     
  6. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    The convention is often italics for thoughts, but limited POV blurs this a bit. In this case, "typical salesman" naturally fits in with the rest of your narration, so you don't need to use quotes or italics. (Though like Steerpike says, it should be a separate sentence.)
     
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  7. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    and more rewrites begin ;)
     
  8. Penfist
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    Penfist Member

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    The man had gone from scheduling a quick few minutes to an afternoon in a couple of short sentences. Typical salesman.
     
  9. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like using italics for thoughts.
     
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  10. Penfist
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    Penfist Member

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    By the way, this would be a more powerful thought if it wasn't passive voice. ;)
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It isn't :D

    (at least, I think not - grammarians?)
     
  12. Penfist
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    Penfist Member

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    I'm certainly wrong often enough. I'll wait for the grammarians to weigh in.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Where do you see passive voice? I'm just about positive it's not, but I could be missing something.
     
  14. Penfist
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    Penfist Member

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    Well, I've reread this: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/passive-voice/ and this http://www.edufind.com/english-grammar/passive-voice/

    It's tricky for me, so I always write to avoid anything with had or has in it. I would have replaced with went. Probably off topic so I'm going to go back to the original question about whether or not to use quotes and say: avoid quotes.
     
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  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I do the same thing.
     
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  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not passive voice. General rules like being wary of "has" or "was", etc., are harmful. Passive voice is not very common and it's not so horrible on the rare occasions when it does come up; I'm not sure why it's such an object of fear.

    Edited to add: I'm not griping specifically at you. The mortal terror of passive voice, combined with a failure to understand what passive voice is, is extremely common. And I don't get it.
     
  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I like to interweave the thoughts into the narration to make third-person with perspective, which I think is the best way to switch between perspectives without being jarring.
     
  18. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    uggg ... I was always terrible at that stuff. Active/ passive/ third person/ all of that Englishy stuff. I can make complete sentences and usually people can understand me. I may follow most of the rules but I couldn't identify the ones I'm following if my life depended on it.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a fan of using italics for direct thoughts, but not for the entire thinking process. In other words, use italics only for the actual phrases the guy thinks. If I were using italics for thoughts (as opposed to tagging them or writing them some other way) I'd write this as:

    The man had gone from scheduling a quick few minutes to an afternoon in a couple of short sentences. Typical salesman.
     
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  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Passive voice is my mortal enemy as well. :confuzled:

    As others said, anything in "" implies speech, so if typical salesman was in "", your narrator would actually be vocalizing it.

    Thought processes and whether it should be italicized or not is a tricky one. There's a whole thread dedicated to just this issue. For me, I often like to italicize direct thoughts.
     
  21. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Italicizing them is ultimately your choice and there's not a lot of argument to be had from either side, both are equally justifiable.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    One test for passive voice is to see if you can add "by zombies" to the end of the sentence and have it still make sense.

    The man had gone from scheduling a quick few minutes to an afternoon by zombies. - makes no sense

    The man's scheduled time had been changed from a few minutes to an afternoon by zombies. - does kind of make sense (zombie secretaries)


    The chemicals were added to the solution by zombies - does make sense, and is kind of cool (zombie chemists).


    But the best thing is probably to understand what passive voice is - it's when you don't really know who did the action in the sentence. In "The man had gone" it's pretty clear the man is the one making the change, right? So not passive.

    And the second part is to recognize that passive voice is not inherently weaker and certainly isn't grammatically incorrect. It's a totally useful tool to use when appropriate.

    In other words, I agree with @ChickenFreak, as usual, and just wanted to talk about zombies a little.
     
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, this.


    He was being listened to by a large crowd is passive voice.

    A large crowd was listening to him is NOT passive voice.

    Perhaps a more effective way to flag up passive voice (horrors!) is to search for the word 'by.' :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    But what if the sentence was, The chemicals had been added to the solution by zombies. Would that still be passive?
     
  25. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure that's not passive voice? @ChickenFreak halp.
     
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