1. Sentry1157
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    Sentry1157 Member

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    Dreams - Italicize or Not

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sentry1157, Dec 24, 2010.

    I'm curious, when a character is having a dream, does that require the text to be italicize or does it matter?

    I've seen some books do it both ways...so *shrugs*
     
  2. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    To be honest with you, I do not use italics in my story. In the event that he is thinking about something, you can use italics, but most editors does not require you to use them. If you don't use them, you might need to indicate that the character is having a dream, something that I did too.

    Dream:

    The long trip drained my energy as I thought about the suffering I left behind in California. I needed advice, I needed to talk to someone, anyone. But as I stepped off the bus at Broadway, the people walked past, keeping to themselves. I felt alone.

    I was out of my element, something I was sure was written all over my face. I worried that some thug might bother me, and just as the thought played out in my mind, I looked up to see a man glaring at me. “Oh, great,” I moaned.

    He took the pistol out of his pocket.

    “You‘re not going anywhere!” he grumbled as it triggered. “You’re going to die finally!”

    I raised my hands as my body shuddered.

    “Bow!” The bullet forced me to wake up and leap out of the couch.


    Notice I didn't use italics for a dream sequence, but I'm a begining writer, so I can't give the accurate answer you want. Sometimes people use italics in stories, and I seen them. In my opinion though, I don't use them, especially if the dream takes up an entire chapter. If the character is having a dream in the middle of the chapter, I would use italics, but since the entire chapter in mines is a dream, I don't use it.
     
  3. Sentry1157
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    Sentry1157 Member

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    Yeah, I was thinking this as well. One of the issues I came across with, in making dreams all italicize, I can't make certain words in the paragraph or dialogue that I want a strong pause for.

    For instance:

    "I will do anything to save her." or How could she!

    It brings more intensity with the story, where if its all italicize you couldn't really pull that off.

    Thanks for your input :)
     
  4. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    No. Please don't italicize entire passages of dreams, it'll make you look like an amateur. And if you're writing well, italics are rarely, if ever, needed even for emphasis in dialog.

    Here are the things I italicize:

    Book titles
    Foreign words
     
  5. Sentry1157
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    Sentry1157 Member

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    So, just out of curiosity, are you saying anyone who has published a book with dreams all in italics are amateur?
     
  6. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    I don't think it especially matters as long as the audience can tell that it is a dream. I have definitely seen the italics in published books; in fact, I think books as famous as The Kite Runner italicize dreams. But there are a lot of counterexamples. All in all, it's probably more up to the publisher than you, since they usually figure out the logistics of printing and that sort of thing.

    But the main point is just so that people know it's not part of the text. If you can do that effectively without italics, then you don't need them. If not using italics makes it unnecessarily confusing, use italics.

    (I hope that's coherent. It's about 1:30 AM here...)
     
  7. Sentry1157
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    Sentry1157 Member

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    Another thought came to me. If a writer choses to italicize, then the reader would always know its a dream. And what if part of the plotline involved the character(s) trying to determine if its a dream or not?

    I think I'll stick with just plain text when it comes to dreams. Because dreams and visions play a role in my series.

    Personally, I'm more coherent late at night, then day time XD
     
  8. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hard to say which authors used italics originally or not. From what I understand is that sometimes the using of italics is the publishers choice. If the publisher wants or doesn't care then thats fine. However you shouldn't submit a manuscript with italics used for dreams/thoughts.

    But also you misread what that person had to say. They didn't say it made them amateur or that published authors with italics in their works for dreams/thoughts are amateur, but that this gives the appearance of amateurish work. This use of italics is often the sign of an amateur.

    Personaly I don't think they are needed for dreams or thoughts. If you need to rely on italics to make it clear then you need to make it clear from the context.
     
  9. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I would vote for "no". Well, it may okay to read short passage in italics, but I'd find it off-putting for longer stretches of prose.

    Personally, I use italics very ;) sparingly, and only to emphasize a word.

    -Frank
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    No, I'm saying that what they published has little to do with what you'll be able to publish. If the industry went by what was okay yesterday, there would be no progression. You have to anticipate what's going to be acceptable tomorrow, and for the most part there's been a serious trend of going away from heavy italics use. Most agents these days, despite genre, expect a writer to write well enough they don't NEED to use italics. Italics aren't a standard indicator of dreams, and there are far better ways to indicate such things, and the quality and expectations of the technical details and craft of writing is higher than ever, and blocks of italics are falling out of favor, so if you use them they'll assume you aren't tomorrow's fiction breakthrough, but stuck in the past.
     
  11. Show
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    I'd go with not. It sets the dream apart a little too much from the story.
     
  12. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    I once read a series of books in which the characters spoke out loud and telepathically to each other. When they spoke telepathically the author used italics, which I appreciated.

    I think in that case italics are ok, but for a dream I would probably vote no.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Here's the deal. The author was not the one to make the choice. You (the greater you) have seen it go both ways because different publication houses have different takes on the matter. Attitudes change slowly in the publication world, but they do change so sometimes what was fine yesterday is a no-no today, and widdershins likewise.

    In China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, there are small intermission chapters where he switches from third to first person and these little chapterlettes are presented in italics. Trust me, he didn't turn in the manuscript that way. It was a choice hashed out during a meeting with his publisher.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    italics in large doses are very hard on the eyes and annoy many readers... good writers don't have to resort to fancy fontery to let their readers know when a character is dreaming, or thinking...

    that some of their works have italics in them for those purposes does not necessarily mean they wanted it so... as noted above, it can be a publisher's preference... but it's still hard to read for most, so i'd strongly suggest you not use them in your ms and make it clear to your readers in other ways...
     
  15. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Yeah, that's one area where I'm on the fence.

    I have a story about robot's (it's a literary story, mind you) where they can both speak and transmit to communicate, and I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do.

    For the most part, I've tried my hardest to make it such that both dialog and transmissions don't even need quotes or italics or anything to make sense, that it's clear regardless, because that's how I think clean, clear prose should be (just like dreams shouldn't only be indicated by italics, as that's a crutch).

    I'm not quite confident in markets to accept a story with no quotes (it's done, but harder to justify to a publisher for sure). So eventually I'll have to decide on something. I deplore italics, so might just do my own thing and make something up, like dialog with double quotes and transmissions with single, or a - before transmitted 'dialog.' Or just leave it as is, with tags, and rely on the context and text to indicate what's going on.
     
  16. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Pops,

    In the Discworld series, Terry Pratchet has the character Mort (death personified) speak in small caps. It's distinctive, but not too distracting.

    Would be hard to read for long passages of prose, but for short dialog it may work for your robots.

    -Frank
     
  17. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Interesting, will have to check it out sometime. Thanks!
     

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