1. Thornesque
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    New Line for...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Thornesque, Sep 27, 2013.

    ...thought?

    I didn't want to put that word in the title, 'cause I didn't want to open the gateway to claims that this is a repetitive thread.

    I guess my problem is that, nearly every time my character starts thinking something, I feel the need to treat it the same as I would treat a new line of dialogue. Is this the proper way to handle thought? Or should it just be thrown in with the rest of the narration? An examle:

    The top part needs some serious editing, I know. But, in reference to the second bit, which is where the thought comes in. It doesn't feel like it belongs with the rest of the narration. But is that incorrect? Should it, in fact, be tacked to the previous paragraph?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    It's a new paragraph for anyone's dialogue, be it inner or out loud. You don't need a new paragraph unless it's a new speaker/thinker or the rest of the paragraph isn't about the same person.

    As for you example, here's a good place where italics would have distinguished between narration and thought. It sounds like narration, in which case it wouldn't need a new paragraph.

    “What a shame.” [Who is saying this?] Nothing about the woman’s face hinted that she may actually feel some remorse. She was simply being political. After all, what sort of person wouldn’t be upset over loss-of-life?

    I wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t known him.
    [This seems like a new paragraph regardless, but it definitely sounds like narration and not inner dialogue, so perhaps I'm unclear what your question refers to.]
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  3. Steerpike
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    I think you could do it either way and be correct. I also think that by separating it, you bring additional emphasis to that sentence. It stands apart from what came before. So if it feels right to separate it, then do so. I often start a new line when I want to emphasize something by separation, even if it could have been included in the previous paragraph.
     
  4. Thornesque
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    Okay, so this is the second half of the question (because, I felt the two issues should be handled separately). Following the line of thought, I have this:

    This, I'm truly torn on. I honestly feel that the two could stand either separately or be put together and still read properly. Correctness, I'm unsure of, and if it could be done either way, I'd really love some opinions on the matter, as far as the reading is concerned. Just for the sake of the argument, this is the two put together:

     
  5. Steerpike
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    I'd still be just as happy seeing it with the sentence "I wouldn't have cared, if I hadn't known him" standing on its own. It provides emphasis, and it's also a transition from what came before and what comes after. It can work as a complete, self-contained thought that bridges the narrative before and after, and I think you'll achieve a different effect by separating it out than you will by combining it with either.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    OK, forget my post, I took your thread title as, "A new line for thought?" Now I don't think I read you right.[
     
  7. Thornesque
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    The discussion is taking place between only two characters. Given the previous lines, it's clear which of the characters (the non-narrator, who is the only other character in the scene) is speaking.

    Yeah, it's not a question of italics or no italics or anything like that. It's just whether or not a new line should be used for the thought, and then if the next line should be a new line, itself, as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  8. GingerCoffee
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    That's fine, it only mattered because I mis-read your question and thought you were writing narration but intending to write a character's direct thought.

    I still think, new paragraph, because "What a shame" and "I wouldn't have cared if" take two different directions.

    If you wanted one paragraph, you need to tie the two things together like these examples:

    "What a shame." It wouldn't have been if.....
    "What a shame." Of course, if I hadn't known him then it wouldn't have been so bad....

    But the way you've written it in the OP, you change direction.
     
  9. Thornesque
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    Well, it's two different characters talking. Let me explain more clearly (I never realize how vague I am until someone unintentionally points it out).

    There are two characters in this scene. The first is my narrator, a woman named Imogen. The second is a friend of hers, Romilda. They're discussing the recent death of a man that, as Imogen later states via narration, was her employer, friend and lover, and was also a prominent member of the society to which they both belong.

    Romilda is the one that says, "What a shame," while, of course, Imogen is the one that thinks, "I wouldn't have cared," which is meant to be a direct thought, rather than part of the actual narration.

    And, just to add further clarity.

    This is meant to be past-tense, first person (as the rest of the book, save the prologue, has been). So the parts where we're referring to a "she," are the things that Imogen is noticing about Romilda, who is clearly entirely unaffected by this recent death, though she feels she's meant to act as though she is.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    OK, see my first post then, glad I didn't delete it.

    Anytime you change heads, you need a new paragraph.

    There's an exception when the narrator is telling us about someone, that's not considered changing heads. But you are describing thoughts two different people are having, that's changing heads.

    I think your bigger problem here is your narration and inner dialogue are conflated.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's a matter of the author's preferred style. There are predominant styles in published fiction, and particularly in fiction published for mass appeal, but there are no hard rules for this sort of thing. You Can head-hop within a paragraph if you like. I've read recent work that does it, and for non-recent work I read a short story (I think by Woolf) that head-hopped multiple times within a paragraph, and maybe even more than once in the same sentence.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    If that's the case, SP, wouldn't one need more tags to keep it straight? And if it's direct thoughts instead of narration, you might have seen the rule broken, but it's treated the same as dialogue and a new paragraph is used.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Well, with the Woolf piece (and this was long ago, so my memory may be faulty) it was almost like a stream-of-consciousness traveling through heads. But Woolf wrote experimental fiction, I suppose you could call it. Not something you're going to sell by the dozens on the Wal-Mart shelves. The more recent stuff that I read that did it, the author was careful to make sure it was kept straight. I'm not sure why a new paragraph wasn't just used, since that is the most common and easiest approach.
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    Sorry, I keep editing my posts (see above). Your description sounds like some literary license liberty, definitely not the norm.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Yep. New paragraph is the norm. But i figure for any "rule," there is probably an author out there who can write well enough to disregard it and still make it work. Writers who are just starting out are more prone to bungling it when they try that kind of thing.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    Sure, but I also think an artsy piece, with stream of consciousness head hopping, is a completely different thing from normal literary conventions. In other words, it's not an excuse to ignore basic editing rules in just any novel or story.
     
  17. BillC
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    What about adding in a little bit of detail explaining that it IS a different thought? (additions in red)

     
  18. Thornesque
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    Because, to me, adding a tag at the end of it really detracts from the sentence.

    For me, the issue isn't whether or not it comes across as thought. If I decide to re-work it later to make it more clear, then whatever. Right now, the issue is whether or not it can stand alone, like it is right now, or if it should be tacked on to either to previous or following paragraphs.
     
  19. BillC
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    Well, as other posters have pointed out above, you could just put it down to literary license. However, for what it's worth (and this is just me trying to be helpful) my experience has been that the conventions of language exist to provide clarity in meaning for the reader. That's why we have accepted spelling and grammatical rules and so on.

    If you're hunting around for a way to make something clear to readers, it may be that you have to bow to convention on occasion. No sense in wasting time agonizing over how to re-invent the wheel, when time is better spent on keeping the wheels of the story moving forward.
     
  20. Thornesque
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    No one is asking about clarity. The only thing I"m asking about, at this point in time, is whether or not, in the given example (and in other similar cases) the "thought" should be a part of the paragraph before it, or the paragraph after it. I am thinking clearly on that level right now, and will deal with the issue of clarity if and when I come to it.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    If this is Romilda: "“What a shame.” Nothing about the woman’s face hinted that she may actually feel some remorse. She was simply being political. After all, what sort of person wouldn’t be upset over loss-of-life?"

    And this is Imogen: "I wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t known him"

    Then the latter needs a new paragraph.


    But, you keep calling these things thoughts, and they are not thoughts. They are you the writer telling us what these people thought. Let me demonstrate an example.

    If Imogen is thinking, this is what it would look like: "I wouldn’t care if I didn’t know him." Or, "I wouldn’t care if I hadn’t known him," if Imogen is thinking but throws a past tense thought in with the actual thought.

    If Imogen or the writer or the narrator is telling us what Imogen thought at the time, it would read like you wrote it: "I wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t known him."

    In the first one Imogen is thinking the words. We don't think in past tense. In the second it is narration, we are being told what Imogen thought, we are not reading what she thought.

    What you wrote coming from Romilda is a bit of a mix between what could be a thought, and what sounds a lot more like narration.
     
  22. thirdwind
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    Since there are two different characters, I would leave it the way it is and add an "Imogen thought" tag in the second paragraph. As an aside, you could have multiple speakers or characters thinking within the same paragraph, but having separate paragraphs for different characters is usually the norm.
     

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