Italics for thoughts?

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Victorian girl, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Doesn't know why people get upset and/or annoyed that some topics aren't decided for the world when they've finished saying their piece on writingforums.org. And wonders if these people have heard of the 'Unwatch thread' function.
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A new person joined the discussion. This thread is a sticky to prevent the discussion coming up again and again as new threads. It's not much of a welcome to complain about an old thread being bumped by a new member.

    :superhello: Welcome @Owen Gaines. Don't mind the grumbling. Italics for thoughts are disliked by some and an accepted convention by others. The world is big enough for both camps.
     
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  3. crystalwizard
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    crystalwizard New Member

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    I always use italics for thoughts. I can't use quotes, those are for dialog that's aloud. I can't just use plain text, that's for IM. I'm not going to use bold, so that leaves italics.
    I want the reader to know my character is thinking actual dialog.
    And there are times when I have two characters that are telepathic. Their entire conversation is thought based. Quote marks would not work there, either.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    :superhello: Welcome @crystalwizard.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, you've hit on the one flaw with italics for thoughts. Reading them out loud. I've encountered that myself, in my own writing. (I do use italics for thoughts at times.) When I read the passages out loud at my writer's group, I have to develop a slightly different voice to get the notion across. Yet it's do-able.

    Terry Pratchett's books—that not only use italics for lots of things, but also use different FONT styles for different characters' voices—appear on commercial audio books all the time. So it's do-able. Just one of those things that you need to consider.

    Also consider this: a book is primarily meant to be read. By a person, sitting alone, reading. In that instance, there isn't really a problem with thought italics, as long as they're not presented as a lengthy wad of text which can be hard on the eye. But a line or two ...works fine. It's a device that's been in use for a long long time, and readers understand it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    . zombie.png
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can just use plain text. You choose not to. That's fine and a choice that you have every right to make, but many authors do indeed use plain text.

    Telepathy, now, that's an entirely different can of worms.
     
  8. Lechaim60
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    Lechaim60 New Member

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    I personally think it depends on what kind of narrative style a writer is working in. There's no standard answer to this question. By convention, symbols do something in the reader's mind regarding the text - and ever since indirect free style and stream of consciousness techniques were developed there have also developed options. Flow thoughts seamlessly and unmarked in the general narrative or set it aside in some way, through signal phrases, indents, quotations, italics, or some combination of the above or others. I think as long as it is suiting the purposes of the writer and narration, pretty much anything goes.
     
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  9. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go on, I give in. What's IM?
     
  10. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't even read the post and I'm going to dive in and say 'internal monologue'.
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Instant messaging.

    Plain text is the clue.
     
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  12. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is?

    Well then my next question is, what's 'plain text' ?
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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  14. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Still a little confused. I already knew what Instant Messaging was (even though it didn't click when I saw the IM - chiefly because I don't see any link with fiction writing). I also now know what 'plain text' is, thanks to a link in that wiki article, but Plain Text is a computer term.

    What do either of these terms have to do with anything that's being discussed here?
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I suspect you are being too literal. I think it was more of a joke.

    We'll have to wait for @crystalwizard to clarify for us. For all I know my tangent was completely off base.
     
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  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Could be that @crystalwizard has one of those accents in which he/she is in the habit of dropping h's. He (she?) really means HIM, and the all-caps mean he's talking about God. He talks to God in plain text. :D
     
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  17. Shnette
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    Shnette Member

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    Yeah, I use itals for thoughts too - and writer sarcasm.
     
  18. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    I do use italics for thoughts and internal monologue. It seems, however, to be a contentious issue. I would be happy to do this another way or continue.

    Have at it.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There's a very long thread on this somewhere, with a lot of opposing viewpoints.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And thus they are merged for sake of maintaining this strangely divisive topic contained.
     
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  21. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Is there an equally authoritative guide for UK writers?
     
  22. Brie Marie
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    Brie Marie New Member

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    I've had this dilemma in the past. An important thing to take into consideration is the POV. If it's in 1st person, italics are unnecessary because the whole story is the MC's thoughts. Personally, I don't use italics in any 3rd person POV stories, either.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I was tempted, in a fit of evil, to start another thread where I innocently ask:

    "I say, chaps, what's the consensus on using italics for thoughts?"

    But I like my account to remain unbanned :D
     
  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever understand why this topic has the capacity to twist knickers the way it does. It is the must utterly ridiculous thing. That people should have such inflamed passions about italics as to clutch pearls, and throw gauntlets at the mention of opposing thoughts is to know that we humans have reached the pinnacle point on this planet through shear randomness or as the latest episode on that cosmic TV show "The Real Primates of Earth" (think The Real Housewives of Whereeverthefuck)
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    On some distant world, an alien teen is watching Earth by means of advanced technology allowing instantaneous transmission of sights and sounds, and every so often his parent walks in and says "Why are you watching this crap?"

    Meanwhile, among literary primates on the third rock out from our sun, someone mentions the Oxford comma:

    [​IMG]
     

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