1. Welsh_Biatch
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    Welsh_Biatch New Member

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    Narrative Modes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Welsh_Biatch, Jan 14, 2010.

    I usually use first person as I like the way you can get into a characters mind, but I would like to try a different way where the narrator is telling the story from all characters points of view (not sure what its called) is it possible to get into the minds of the character by doing this. Hopefully this all makes sense a few glasses of alcohol have been consumed lol
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Seeing inside a character's head is not limited to first person only. You can also use third person, and it will achieve the same thing.
     
  3. Lionheart
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    Lionheart New Member

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    When I use the narrator's perspective to write my stories, occasionally I'll let the reader hear the characters thoughts word for word by adding those lines in italic... Here's an example I wrote 5 minutes ago for my novel...

    The hallway was small, and narrow, with two doors on each side and a carpeted staircase at the far end heading upstairs. Wooden panels covered all of the walls which also hung several expertly painted portraits of the bloated toad-like Magister.

    That rules out fire based traps, Kalen mused.

    Borgio wasn’t the most intelligent member of the Council, and could quite believably lack the kind of foresight to realize the folly of hiding a flamethrower in a narrow wooden passage, yet the thief knew the Magister’s inflated ego would prevent him from defacing his own image just to catch an intruder.

    But there is something wrong here.

    Then with the twinkle of a smile in his eye, he spotted it. About halfway along the hallway, one of the floorboards protruded upwards just slightly higher than the others, less than a centimeter and practically invisible to the kind of eyes that weren't trained to look for these details.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't use italics to denote thoughts. Write it like ordinary dialogue, but without the quotes.

    Yes, you will see people misusing italics to indicate thought. You will also see people licking metal posts in subzero temperatures. Don't do it.
     
  5. Welsh_Biatch
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    Welsh_Biatch New Member

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    I decided against the third person opting for the first since its more familiar to me. However I have written my first paragraph countless times in both first and third but can't get it to sound right. I think its the worst piece of writing that I have written yet. I find it something I would have written at school.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen to that!
     
  7. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    Why exactly is a story not be written with italics to show internal monologue?

    Anyways, I prefer the third person omnipotent. Maybe it's because I like the idea of considering myself the god of the universe :)O) but nothing's more fun than being able to bounce around from head to head and show the different stories from different viewpoints. I have a love of a huge cast of characters so being able to go from one to another in a relatively short span of time is very enjoyable to me.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The same reason you don't show ordinary dialogue by enclosing it in colons instead of quote marks. It's incorrect, and italics (or colons) have their own, proper uses.
     
  9. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    I've seen italics used for thought in many, many books, but I'm not saying that means it's necessarily correct, just that that's probably not common knowledge, I guess. What exactly is the italics properly used for in a book?
     
  10. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My guess is that was the publishers call. But unless the publisher wants them in italics, you should avoid using them in this case. :p
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Italics are used to indicate a foreigh phrase, Italics are used to place an emphasis on a word that would not ordinarily receive the empasis in a sentence. Italics are used to denote a title of book, movie, song, etc.
     
  12. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I agree that they're very commonly used to show internal thoughts. However, the real problem is italics can easily become an overused crutch for lazy writing. IOW, there are other (usually better) ways of showing a character's viewpoint than constantly reminding the reader the character is "thinking" or "recalling" something. Plus, simply converting the italics to non-italics usually results in an outcome that's a little ambiguous (without rewriting somehow). Plus, there are plenty of fine writers who don't use quotation marks at all for actual dialogue. So, internal thoughts would require some way to distinguish them (though there are more ways than italics to do that).

    In Dan Brown's DIGITAL FORTRESS, they're used all the time for this purpose, and it's one of the first things I noticed about it (personally, I think this is a real good example of a writer substituting a crutch for better writing). I do think think they have a place in showing unusual significance for all kinds of things, including mantras, poetic musing, and other internal thoughts. But the key (to me) is significance. In my own writing, I think of words or passages I want to italicize as places where I ought to consider something else, something better, instead. If I feel I can't do that without sacrificing the significance I want to give something, then I use italics, and I have not found editors objecting to that.

    So, I don't think they're uniformly considered "incorrect" for this purpose (given St. Martin's Press and many others responsible for printing italics to show internal thoughts are perfectly respectable publishers). I just think of italics used for this purpose as potentially annoying if they seem to carry no weight.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    On the other hand, if you intend to get published, you should follow established standards.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    QFT

    The manuscript that is turned in is a very different beast to what ends up between the cover of a book.

    There is a standard.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To start with, you should focus on contemporary works. Publication standards do change over time, and Joyce's writings were penned nearly a century ago.

    Also, the dash convention for dialogue is from French literature, and even there it is obsolescent.

    As for italics, some of that takes place at the publisher/typesetter's option. As a writer, you should not be relying on such a stunt to make your dialogue clear. Many publishers do NOT resort to typographic tricks to make unspoken dialogue stand out, so you should write to not rely on it.

    Also, you may get away with a couple of rule violations, each one stands an increased chance of annoying a potential publisher enough to chuck your manuscript into the reject pile. They have plenty of manuscripts to sort through, and you are competing against tens or hundreds of submissions by authors who know and follow the standards. As an unpublished author, you cannot afford to be noticed as the guy who doesn't know the ropes.

    As standards go, it's true that italicised dialogue is one of the softer ones. But you will never go wrong by writing thoughts in normal text, and writing it so it is clear without depending on italics. Depending on italics if lazy writing as well as not being standard, and it can come back and bite you with a busy submissions editor. Why risk it?
     
  16. aniolel
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    aniolel Member

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    The use of italics depends on the person style. Some despise it, and others don't mind it. In fact, i have seen both: non-italics and italics. And you're right, it is up to your publisher and their rules, which my writing friends who are well versed in this topic tell me. I am not saying that cogitate is wrong here. Quiet the contrary, I am saying that both of you are right, in one sense or another. However, when you want to be published writer, make sure you know what the rules set by the publish house, or your publisher. Personally, I have not read in any creative writing texts that it states that is wrong. I have read, however, in the book Dialogue from the series does that state it is okay to italics internal thoughts. A warning is not over do it, or it will distract the reader.
     

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