1. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Style Italics for emphasis

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by A.M.P., Jul 1, 2014.

    I know this must a be a silly butt question but I Googled it and pretty sure I am not wrong...

    If you want to add emphasis on a certain word such as: Bill ate five pizzas rather than writing it without the italics and then saying "She said with emphasis" or "She said with emphasis on the word five".

    I know it's an accepted way to add inflection.
    I am just having major brain issues at the moment and need confirmation from another human being >.>
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Seems like a clumsy way to denote emphasis. But if you want to do it that way you'd need to say, emphasis on the word, five. Otherwise the emphasis is on the whole statement.
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee
    That's what I'm saying.
    Add italics on a word for emphasis rather than making a following sentence/dialogue tag explaining which words need inflection so the readers knows.
     
  4. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Adding emphasis is one of the primary functions of italics. Things get mucked up when we start using it for interior monologue (thoughts). Then it' can be hard for reader to tell which is which.

    You could say, "she said with emphasis" or "she stressed the word five," but it's kind of over kill. The context of the dialogue might translate the emphasis naturally. If it's not dialogue, the italics would be your only real option.
     
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  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Go with the italics. Having a tag that states which word was stressed is clumsy IMO.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    It's not interior, it's 'internal'.

    As for confusing the reader, that could just as easily be said to be the opposite, not using the italics blurs first person narration and internal dialogue, confusing the reader.

    Whereas the lack of quotations and the length of the italicized text makes if pretty hard to confuse thoughts with intended emphasis.
     
  7. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with the crowd here. Using a tag that explains the inflection when there's already a tool at your disposal designed for that exact purpose is a clear-cut example of spoonfeeding the reader something that should be shown. Italics exist to emphasize words (among other things) and can give a very particular read of either narration or dialog without "telling" the reader how to interpret the scene.

    But, as with everything else, don't go overboard.
     
  8. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Yes, you're right. It is "internal." Although a case can be made that both are accurate (but I won't take that stand right now). ;)

    I completely agree with your second and third comments though! :agreed: It's less likely to confuse readers if you use italics in bot cases. Another option would be to bypass direct interior monologue (internal, if you will--one of those instances in the arguable zone) and use indirect, coming very close to character thought's but without changing tenses. This is usually how deep 3rd POV is written. It eliminates the need for italics for anything other than emphasis. It's all a matter of preference, clarity, and consistency these days.
     
  9. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    100% italics for emphasis.
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Italics are a modern tool, used for many purposes in modern writing. Some people buck and pitch at the mere thought of seeing italics in a story, but none of these people are actually going to be misled by italics in a story, either—at least not if the italics are used in a sensible way.

    Nobody is going to get mixed up if you write: Bill ate five pizzas. (Especially if this sentence is taken in context. Example: somebody has just suggested Bill ate only three of them.) Nobody is going to think this means an internal thought or that it's a foreign word, or whatever. They'll know you're emphasizing 'five.'

    Later on, if you skillfully use italics for an internal thought, nobody is going to think you're trying to create emphasis either. It'll be clear from the context.

    Over-use of italics draws attention to itself and can distract readers from your story. Big blocks of italics are difficult to read and should be avoided. But hey. Be aware of these pitfalls, and you'll be fine. Use italics for whatever you want to, as long as the reader is not confused about what is happening, and won't have difficulty reading them. You're writing a creative piece, not a school report. Have fun, and use all the tools at your disposal to tell your story in an entertaining way.

    Italics are a relatively 'new' creative writer's tool, mainly because before the days of wordprocessors they were difficult to produce. But just as we accept other gifts that wordprocessors give us, I'd say don't be afraid of italics. They reduce the need to 'explain' things, and keep the flow of the story moving briskly along. It's a new world.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
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  11. A.M.P.
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    Thanks everyone!

    I knew I wasn't crazy when I noticed myself using italics instead of informative dialogue tags. I just needed the confirmation, I guess :D
     
  12. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Don't read this thread...it will make your head hurt.
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/italics-for-thoughts.32989/
    I'm nearing completion of a novel where the MC argues with her conscience repeatedly. Italics are used to separate the conversations. Some would have me hung in the town square for such boldness. :crazy:
     

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