1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Narrator thoughts

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, Apr 6, 2011.

    In the book I'm writing, since it's in the first person, I chose not to use quotation marks for my thoughts. I wonder if I should write a comma after "thinking" in:

    I just kept thinking if all these people I see dare to do this, I can too.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes.
     
  3. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Thanks.
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Unless I'm forgetting some detail, thoughts should be marked off and capitalized like dialog except without the double quotation marks.

    I think you can write it like this, too:

    I just kept thinking that if all these people I saw dared to do this, then I could, too.

    In this way, the thought is going through the narrator's head but not necessarily in those words. Note the shift in tense.
     
  5. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Sorry, but if you're writing in first person, then what possible reason could you have for indicating the narrator's thoughts? Everything is coming from the narrator's head. His thoughts should be a seamless part of the narrative. I say get rid of the first part. Instead of...

    I just kept thinking, if all these people I see dare to do this, I can too.

    ...try this:

    If all these people I see dare to do this, I can too.

    Ugh. It's hard to get a sense of what I mean with just one sentence. Here's a sample from one of my stories. Hopefully it's a good enough indication of what I'm saying. The objective of the card game they're playing is to get as close to 20 as possible, with face cards and aces equaling 10... Just clarifying so you don't focus on the wrong thing. :cool:

     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    It's akin to how shows like Arrested Development get pulled from the air, and one of the main complaints was that people didn't know it was supposed to be funny, or when to laugh, because they didn't employ a laugh track.

    I personally trust my readers, and assume they'll get a joke without a laugh track explaining when they should laugh (that they'll be experiencing the story closely enough to understand something is a thought, not need it spelled out for them clumsily with an attribution, italics AND quotes, which I've seen manuscripts with all three, lol)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    regardless of pov, thoughts do not go in quotation marks... only spoken words do...
     
  8. sereda008
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    sereda008 Senior Member

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    I would really recommended you to use italic sentences for thoughts finishing with full stops. This is how I have seen it done, and the way I do it.
     
  9. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Why not just integrate it?
    Like:
    'I ran, forgetting the girl behind me. She'd catch up eventually' ,- Crap example xD
    By you italicizing 'she'd catch up eventually' it doesn't make it clearer imo.
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Many contemporaries in the industry seem to favor a close, limited pov where thoughts don't need to be italicized, because they make sense in context to be the thoughts of the main character and not just random stuff the writer is throwing in.

    I address this in my blog, if you care (I don't, heh), in a post about filtering characters. Italics is just another filter added in between the reader and the fully realized character-experience.
     
  11. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    Generally, in first person POV, the narrative reads as though it is somebody telling you the story, as they saw it. This is hard to avoid, really. "John was a good man, with a wife and kids, but he could be a bit too boisterous after a shot of Jack." This is a thought, in and of itself. The narrator is expressing his opinion on John, and everything after "but" is by all rights just a thought on the character. To italicize thoughts, to me, is just jarring in this POV. It works in third person, better in limited but still in omniscient, but in first? I don't care for it.

    In your particular example, though, I would say you need to have something separating "I just kept thinking" and "if all these people I see dare to do this, I can too." Not for the sake of the perspective, just because it is really quite awkward grammatically if you don't throw a comma or colon in there.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good writers don't need to use italics to let readers know when a character is thinking... whether or not this or that publisher's house style is to use them should not affect what you do in your ms...
     
  13. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    yup. At least learn to write without using italics as a crutch, then if your publisher wants to add them in, who cares (personally I do, and would fight that, but whatev, probably not a big deal to most).
     
  14. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    A simple one word response:

    Yes
     

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