1. Just a small smackerel
    Offline

    Just a small smackerel Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oklahoma

    First person, past tense, thoughts

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Just a small smackerel, Mar 24, 2009.

    I have read Cogito's He said, She Said post, and while I found it quite helpful, there are some things I still need to clear up.

    As mentioned in the title, my novel is written in the first person with the past tense. Now, when I have her thoughts that she was thinking in the past, not her reflecting, should I italicize?

    It seems to be preferred to not use italics at all for most people, which I have been told doesn't seem to work in my story.

    Example:

    Can what I italicize flow with the rest of the sentence? Can it stand as just plain text?

    Any advice? Should I italicize? Put an inverted comma around the thoughts?
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    You should not italicize. Instead, the writing should make it clear.

    You could set the literal thoughts in their own paragraph, possibly with the sentence that preceds (and introduces) those thoughts.

    But you begin your paragraph with literal thoughys formatted the same way as spoken dialogue, which is fine. So just why are you switching styles in mid-paragraph?
     
  3. Just a small smackerel
    Offline

    Just a small smackerel Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Well, originally I had left it in plain text as you are suggesting, but someone told me that it was confusing, that it was messing with the tenses, so I began to question it.

    But thanks for clearing that up for me.

    :love:

    It's really appreciated.
     
  4. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i don't see any sense in putting what are thoughts in quotation marks, which are correct only for spoken dialog... if her 'head' is speaking aloud, then they'd be ok there, but that doesn't make much sense, unless she's a schizoid dealing with an alter ego personality and is talking to herself... why the additional thoughts should be in italics, i can't imagine... it reads fine without them, so why overcomplicate things?...
     
  5. Just a small smackerel
    Offline

    Just a small smackerel Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Phew.
    That's actually what I was wanting to hear.
    Because looking at what all I had to italicize in the other chapters in my story, it would have taken me forever to unscramble what to do.
    :love: :love:
    So both of you, thank you.
    It's good to know that should I have a question, it can be answered here accordingly.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    According to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition, section 11.47, quoting is an option for unspoken dialogue:
    That said, I would personally prefer not to quote it, unless not quoting leads to other syntactic sins I could not avoid by rewriting, such as a question mark in the middle of a sentence. I haven't found myself painted into such a corner yet, but I concede the possibility - more so for writers unwilling to adjust the dialogiue for the sake of syntactic clarity.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    cog...
    you seem to be not taking into account the fact that CMS rules 'n regs were meant mainly for journalism, not for fiction...
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Still, absent any authoritative source for fiction saying otherwise, I have to consider quoted unspoken dialogue as permissible. And I have seen it used in novels by seasoned authors.

    At least it beats the misuse of italics. :)
     
  9. Atari
    Offline

    Atari Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Cogita and uh-- Mammamaia are both absolutely, 100% correct, and indisputably so. I merely want to say something to you about your excerpt:

    I felt that the italicized thoughts REALLY delved me into the character's thinking. The italicized marks just immediately drew me into a 'thinking' state of mind and it was very engaging.
    So despite that the two above are undoubtedly correct in their assessment and advice, I still like the way you have written it.
     
  10. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    When I read, my head perked up. “Hey, what power am I . . .” I thought she was taking to someone in the room because of the quotation marks. Matter of fact, I didn’t know they were her thoughts until cog said so.

    The sentence, my head perked up, followed by quotation marks really seems like she is talking out loud.

    Because you are writing in third person, I don’t even think you have to use tags like I thought.

    This is how I would personally do it. I would also change head to mind.

    Premonitions, ESP, Intangibility. They each had a power all their own. My mind perked up. Hey, what power am I go going to get? We all get one right? That’s why I couldn’t fly or go through things, because each one of us gets something different? What? Do we serve as invisible superheroes or something? My brain began to work with the ideas.

    Maybe we're guardian angels? Is that what's going on? We have all been chosen for that job, to make miracles happen? Hm, I never thought my true potential would come to me in the afterlife. Kinda a bummer.
     
  11. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Ah, okay. I see what the problem is here. You switch from using one style to another to showcase the thoughts. Most people who write in first person *do* use italics to showcase thoughts, but not if they start out by using a different style. It's not necessary to italicize (despite the majority of people who do so) because it's already established by the first person p.o.v. writing that the thoughts and feelings belong to the MC. I'd disagree that you should use quotations, however, because when I read it, I was like "who is this person talking to?" and it didn't make sense until I read the forum posts following to realize it was all internal dialogue. I'd just dispense with quotation marks unless it's actual dialogue that you're writing, rather than internal conversation.

    Just my thoughts on the topic.

    ~Lynn
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i seriously doubt the 'most' and 'majority' you refer to are the best professional writers, since a good writer has no need to use fancy fontwork to let the readers know when a character is thinking... it's only the beginners/unseasoned writers that i find using italics and among them, i do find it's a majority, sad to say...
     
  13. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Mammamaia, when I say majority, I'm talking about the published seasoned authors I've read. Not the people new to writing. Just thought I'd clarify.

    I will agree that a lot of new writers use them distastefully, though, and to such a ridiculous extent it's well...ridiculous :p
     
  14. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    I think the reason we see italics so often in novels is because the publishers want them there, not necessarily because the author's wanted to use them.

    You can tell the italics are often not needed. The author did a great job of showing that they were thoughts, but for whatever reasons the publisher thought it would make it less confusing for those few readers that might get lost.

    I think it could have the opposite effect, though. Here are some italics kiddies, so you know the character is thinking. Wouldn't want ya to get confused now.
     
  15. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Lol yeah basically. I'd agree that whether or not you use italics, publishers may put thoughts in italics anyways to make sure the readers don't get confused. That makes sense to me :)
     
  16. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Leave that choice to the publisher, though. You will be far better off if your writing does not depend on typography to be clear.
     
  17. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Yeah, agreed. It's definitely best that your work be clear without changing any text styles because that allows it to be understood even before words become italicized.
     
  18. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    words of wisdom well worth following...
     

Share This Page