1. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    I've been thinking.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MJ Preston, Jul 2, 2010.

    Ah, there you are. Okay I have a grammarical question in regard to writing thought and proper format.


    Which of these two sentences be grammarically correct.

    1. I wonder if he's sitting there brooding about our fight? he thought.
    2. I wonder if he's sitting there brooding about our fight, he thought.
    3. I wonder if he's sitting there brooding about our fight? He thought.


    I know we often follow dialogue with a comma, but what of the thought? Do we apply the same rule when not using "I" or first name.

    Feedback?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The second, but without the italics. Italics do not belong in unspoken dialogue.

    What he is thinking isn't even a question.
     
  3. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    deleted
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You may see many things in print that should never appear in manuscript.

    Italics are one of the most misused elements in writing. There are legitimate uses for italics, including foreign language words, placing emphasis on a word that would not ordinarily be stressed in that sentence, and titles of books and films.

    But too many writers use italics as a magic elixir to indicate "This text is different from the other text around it." No authoritative grammar or style book endorses the use of italics for unspoken dialogue, even when they do specify the correct uses of italics. That includes The Chicago Manual of Style, which is about the most detailed reference on writing standards you are likely to find.

    As for the question mark, one would not be called for in the sentence with the tag removed:
    As in spoken (quoted) dialogue, the comma takes the place of the period to link it to the tag.

    He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would have thought that this one would come down to the publisher's house style. If the publisher says to italicise free direct thought or direct thought then do it. Otherwise I agree that you shouldn't unless it's a deliberate stylistic choice for a good reason. It's not actually wrong, but it's intrusive so you'd better know what you're doing. Given the original question, I don't think the questioner is there yet.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The PUBLISHER can choose to typeset it that way for printing. The WRITER never should do that in the manuscript.

    Know the difference!

    If you want to cover your bets, in case a publisher ever asks you to italicise thoughts, use a named style in your Word document. I created a named style in my manuscript template called Internal dialogue, and I mark all unspoken dialogue with that style. I define the style as identical to regular paragraph style, to conform with manuscript standards. But I can change it in an instant for the entire manuscript to italics, if I encounter the odd publisher that prefers it that way. Or I can make it bold red if I want to easily find all my unspoken dialogue easily in a proofread.

    Get out of the habit of depending on italics to make it clear that it is literal thoughts. The writing should do that, not the typesetting.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    gotta add a great big "AMEN" to all that!!!

    good writers don't have to resort to fancy fontery to let readers know when someone's thinking...

    and publishers don't all have the same house style, so how can you do what a publisher tells you to do, before you even have a publisher?
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The way Cog says. All modern word processors have that capability.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    read what you quoted from my post again, dig... one can't do what a publisher says to do, till one HAS a publisher...
     
  10. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    Good advice all around thanks. I'll be unitalicizing in due course.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but what Cog suggested was use styles in the word processor. So the work flow would be:
    1. Just use normal font for thought as you write.
    2. If a publisher wants thought set in italic, create a "thought" style and go through [1] applying to all thought in the document.

    Now the document can have plain text or italics for thought, as required, at the click of a couple of buttons.

    [1] I think Cog is optimistic thinking that the publisher will just use italics without asking you to do all the grunt work involved.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I got into the habit of using a named style early on. I mark all internal dialogue with the style as I write, so it's ready for change immediately.

    The debate over italics/normal text for unspoken dialogue has been endless. None of the various authoritative writing guides come out and say you should/should not use italics for unspoken dialogue, so it's no wonder there is so much confusion over it.

    I've done a lot of research to find the answer to this question. What I have been able to determine is:

    1. The guides that do enumerate the correct uses of italics in writing do not include marking unspoken dialogue.
    2. The guides that specify how to write unspoken dialogue do not endorse the use of italics.

    The most detailed of these guides is The Chicago Manual of Style (mine is the 15th Edition), and it does specify both the correct uses of italics and the options for showing unspoken dialogue. Nowhere does it endorse the use of italics for unspoken dialogue.

    I have continued to search for a definitive statement by a reliable source, with no change in results. So te best conclusion is that the use of italics for unspoken dialogue is not standard and should therefore be avoided. But if you favor a belt-and-suspenders approach, leave it as plain text but mark all instances so you can change it non-destructively with a few keystrokes.

    And above all, if you make sure your intent remains clear even without italics, your writing is that much stronger, It will stand on its own regardless of whether the publisher chooses to decorate the thoughts with italics.

    You may also want to have a special style for italics within unspoken dialogue. Two proper uses of italics are to emphasize a word that would not ordinarily be emphasized, as in the prvious sentence; and to indicate words or pjhrases from another language. In these cases, you want to revert to normal text if the unspoken dialogue is italicized. Fortunately, these are relatively uncommon occurrences.

    I'm basically lazy. I don't want to have to do a painstaking edit because one publisher prefers the nonstandard form, so I do the work up front, when I know my intent for the passage I am writing.
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am told (though not reliably) that the fundamental difference between Anglo-Saxon common law and the Napoleonic legal system is that under common law everything is permitted unless the law explicitly forbids it, and under the Napoleonic code everything is forbidden unless the law explicitly permits it. I think that's the fundamental difference between our approaches. You can't find a rule permitting it, so you consider it forbidden. I can't find a rule forbidding it so I assume it's permitted. :)
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The various writng handbooks would be more than doubled in size if they attempted to enumerate all possible things writers should not do.

    A simple observation: there is a tendency for new writers to slap italics on any text they want to stand out as "different", including but not limited to unspoken dialogue. I suspect that many of them, deep down, would rather change the font face instead, except they know that is verboten.
     
  15. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    What if a character reads... say, a letter. Italics? I mean, technically it's internal, but it's recounting something that's written down.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Block quote, i.e. a section indented relative to the body of the text, not enclosed in quote marks. Shorter passages are quoted within the text exactly like spoken dialogue.
     
  17. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    OK. Thanks. That's the only situation in which I'd use italics, so...
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The word "only" when enumerating the things that they should do would do the trick.
     

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