1. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Quoting thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jowettc, Feb 3, 2012.

    I have it in my head, from I do not where, that when a character has a thought it should be quoted thus:

    'Blimey! That was a lose call!' he thought.

    As opposed to:

    "Blimey! That was a close call!" he spluttered. (Which would be the verbal expression.)

    Am I nuts? Should it just be:

    Blimey! That was a close call! he thought.
     
  2. SplashPlane
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    SplashPlane New Member

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    I would consider using italics for thoughts.

    Blimey! That was a lose call!
     
  3. Ziggy Stardust
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    Ziggy Stardust Active Member

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    It should be this: Blimey! That was a close call! he thought.

    You don't even need "he thought", it's obvious that he's thinking.

    You use ' for quoting inside a quote. "He said, 'hello'".
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  5. SplashPlane
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    SplashPlane New Member

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    I will not forget italics! :mad:
     
  6. Xatyrn
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    Xatyrn Member

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    Heheh, I use italics. I guess if your story is in first person nothing is really necessary, but it all depends on the circumstances and such.
     
  7. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    Haha I love italics too.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I vote for no italics, no quotes, usually no "he thought" attribution. Just write so that the thought is a part of the narrative:

    A door slammed. Jane looked up, eyes widening. Oh, for God's sake--tonight, of all nights, he comes home early from the pub? She snapped one last picture, then tucked the camera into her purse and closed the desk drawer gingerly, wincing as the runners squeaked. She grabbed her shoes and left through the French doors, still in quiet stocking feet. She allowed herself a shudder when she made it to the cover of the hedges; a close call, much too close a call.

    ChickenFreak

    (Edited to stuff in more thoughts.)
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Italics have specific legitimate uses. Indicating literal thoughts is not one of them.

    You might get away with it with a publisher. You might not. But you won't end up in the rejection pile for doing it the right way - normal text, no quote marks.

    Worse yet, you may have no clue why you got rejected. It probably won't be the misuse of italics alone. But it still could be the mistake that annoys the submissions editor just enough to tip the scales.

    And before you start listing all the books that do exactly that, italicizing thoughts, know that what ends up in print and what is acceptable in manuscript are entirely different things.
     
  10. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Thanks all for your thoughts. Its all helping me with my writing - Thanks!
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    dittoing cog, as usual!
     
  12. 160thSOAR
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    160thSOAR Member

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    I have used italics to indicate thoughts in my writing for the longest time, and now I realize that I've been doing it wrong. I wish I'd known this earlier. Honestly, I think my writing will flow better this way, but it will be hard to get through my old habit of italicizing thoughts.

    Quick question: If you wanted to do a block quote on this website, how would you do it? The tab key doesn't work, so you can't do the usual two tabs in. I suppose the colon would be one indicator, but I'm uncertain.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Read the site FAQ for tips on using the editing features.

    You can wrap text in either [NOPARSE]
    [/NOPARSE] or [NOPARSE]
    text​
    [/NOPARSE].

    This is text enclosed in an INDENT tag.​


    You cannot do a first line indent (of a paragraph) in the editor.
     
  14. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I agree about ditching the italics and doing it the way agents/editors like it. If they decide they want italics somewhere for whatever reason, let them make the change. You can't go wrong that way.

    I don't like 'spluttered' for dialogue attribution. Yes, I think 'said' works best almost every single time, but 'spluttered' is trying too hard. It's also an awful word in my personal opinion.

    So for your line, depending on the distance between the narrator and the character, you could keep the 'he thought' or take it out -- up to you. I also think the second exclamation point is unnecessary. The less exclamation points you need, the better, in fact. So,

    Blimey! That was a close call.

    or

    Blimey. That was a close call, he thought.
     
  15. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Okay. I see as many websites that advocate the use of italics for thoughts as I do for those who refer to them being the spawn of the devil. In this day and age of personal choice, I fail to see why people would staunchly suggest that their method is the "correct" method. Again, it would depend on the publisher as to whether or not they're going to accept such things, but one would safely assume that if the story is worth its salt, then such physical features as italics wouldn't deter someone from wanting to publish a story. The editor, after all, will get the final say on such things, anyway... Having said that, though, if you've used italics left, right and centre to the extent that they seemingly appear on every damn page, then yes, I could see that being problematic.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No AUTHORITATIVE source endorses the use of italics for literal thoughts.

    You'll never go wrong by NOT using italics for literal thoughts. Why risk it? There is absolutely no benefit to using them, and you WILL write better if you don't rely on them for your clarity.

    But everyone will make his or her own choice. I personally think it's foolish to knowingly ignore standards, but there are certainly those who turn up their nose at standards. My feeling is that you can be a rebel in far more productive ways.
     
  17. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cogito is dead on the money here. I've said it time and time again, publishers and editors want to see very specific standards in your manuscript. If you don't follow them, you identify yourself as an amateur and they will often stop reading your work, even if it's good. They aren't just looking for good writers, they are looking for people who can toe the line, who they know they can work with because they are professional.

    I'm not just talking out of my ass, my mother is published and worked for many years as an editor. Her number one complaint (and reason for rejecting material) was that the writer broke 'the rules' before clearly demonstrating that they knew what 'the rules' were.

    Also, if your writing isn't strong enough and clear enough that the reader needs italics to figure out when someone is speaking in their head, you may need to rewrite it.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    can't ditto cog and TDF strongly enough!
     
  19. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    This is an argument that will run around in circles. If I can see italics used to denote thought in published works, then the rule cannot be as wrong as you've claimed it to be. Needless to say, there will be those editors out there whose nose will be put out of joint because of this, but there will doubtless be just as many who are willing to publish because they feel the story will sell.
     
  20. Moira
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    Moira Member

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    :D Hahaha.
     
  21. Miss Jo
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    Miss Jo Member

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    I'm so used to seeing thing in Italics I never would have know it was an industry standard no-no. I understand that your characters should be well thought out but isn't there a time where internal reconciliation or giving the reader some extra input would make that a proper format?
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Huh?
    How does anything in the story alter manuscript standards?

    And keep in mind, what you see in print is NOT manuscript format. Many stuntsare permissible as publishing decisions that have absolutely no place in a manuscript.

    You can't just wish changes in the standards.
     
  23. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    This. I wish I'd said this earlier. It's kind of the point. Thank you Cogito. What you see in a book is not the same as submission format and why would you want to get used to using something that isn't part of submission format? That would be like deliberately encouraging a bad habit.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!... that, too...

    i see no sense in new, unknown writers stubbornly reducing their work's chances of being represented and/or published, instead of maximizing them by sticking to the most acceptable/accepted standards of ms format...

    wait till you're famous before bucking the norm and the odds...
     
  25. Miss Jo
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    Miss Jo Member

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    I admit I know nothing and am simply trying to learn what even is acceptable formats. Thanks for the info, you've given me new things to research :)
     

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