1. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    Dream Time

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by walshy12238, Aug 21, 2011.

    I'm sorry if this is in the wrong spot; if someone wants to move it, feel free to do so.

    Anyway, I'm at a point in my novel where I have to describe a dream my MC is having. Should I write it in italics, or just leave it in normal text? I've never had to do something like this before, so I don't know what the norm is.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say absolutely normal text.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!... good writers don't have to resort to fancy fontery to let readers know when someone is dreaming or thinking...
     
  4. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    OK, thanks guys! :)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Normal text. It's just a scene change. Not all scenes need take place in linear chronology, or even in conventional reality. Your job as a writer is to properly manage the scene transition, through the use of words.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Any time you use italics should be used for a single word, or a single short sentence at the absolute maximum. Italics' purpose in fiction is to create emphasis, so using it too much will deflate any effect it would have had.

    Also, it's annoying on the eyes to read italics for several pages.
     
  7. Peutra
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    Peutra Member

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    The Percy Jackson series jumped through dreams/visions to reality without as much as a paragraph separator.

    If I hadn't read "And then I woke up", then I'd never had known it was a dream.
     
  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I agree it's annoying reading a block of italics, but want to clarify the reason not to use italics isn't based on quantity, but quality. One sentence of amateurish italics is no less amateurish than an entire scene.

    And I wouldn't even say the purpose is to create emphasis. There are a lot of ways to create emphasis, like tone and mood and subtext and character traits and context, etc. Italics is usually the easy way out for people that write weak dialog, as good dialog shouldn't need italics to understand which word a character is emphasizing, just like it shouldn't need an exclamation point to understand a character is exclaiming.

    Most of the time...

    ...sometimes the ironic use of exclamation points or italics is effective, to point out the character is exclaiming or emphasizing things that are abnormal. Like that, what, why the emphasis on things, when the important word seems to be abnormal.

    At least that's my opinion! (see how that exclamation point makes that sentence awkward and unconventional in meaning, as it doesn't seem at all humble to put an exclamation point there, lol).

    Okay, sorry, will stop giving examples, but it's a good tool to have.

    edit:

    Oh, and to the original point, handling dreams is solved with the best advice to handle anything in fiction: stay true to the reality of the moment you're creating. If the character knows it's a dream, then indicate it directly. If the character doesn't know it's a dream, then proceed with the action as such, with the expectation it's as real as the character is experiencing it.

    It's bad when the narrator is nudging the reader, pointing out the character is dreaming when the character doesn't know it, as that removes the reader from suspension of disbelief and a connected experience, and all that.
     
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  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are three principal legitimate uses for italics:

    1. To emphasize a word or two that would bnot ordinarily receive emphasis in a sentence. Example: His aunt arrived from Detroit. (implying that someone else was expected to arrive from Detroit)

    2. To indicate a foreign word or phrase within an English sentence. Example: She walked in on her husband and her sister in flagrante delicto.

    3. For titles of books, movies, pieces of art, and similar creative works; also the names of vessels. Example: He brought a copy of Duma Key aboard the Island Princess for his leisure time reading.

    Italics should not be used as duct tape to shore up flimsy writing.
     
  10. TyperShark
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    TyperShark New Member

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    Whenever I think about italicizing a section of a novel, I ask myself if I really need to. If you're a good writer, your readers will "see" the italicized text by the way you write. It makes writing more of a challenge and it seems to help me make even my descriptions richer.
     

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