1. AnarchicQ
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    AnarchicQ Member

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    Telepathy!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AnarchicQ, Nov 16, 2008.

    Ok, so I have characters who communicate telepathically. How should I distinguish between dialog and telepathic speech?
    Italics? Single Quotes? Curly bracket? Asterisks?
    How would you write it and how would you like to read it?
     
  2. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I would write it just like dialog, and let the reader know they are speaking telepathically.
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I use italics myself, since with quotes it looks too much like they're speaking aloud (and I'll wonder, "Why does nobody else hear them?") and without any formatting at all it looks too much like regular narration. (And just telling in the text that they're talking telepathically doesn't always cut it, because sometimes I'll have a couple of characters talking back and forth telepathically while others are talking aloud--I can't rightly say after every sentence which is out loud and which isn't.)

    But you'll find that most others here are against italics. *shrug*
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There's an existing discussion on this subject. I also have a great deal of telepathic dialogue in the story I am writing. Here's the answers I received when I asked the same question. Hope it helps.

    Telepathic Dialogue
     
  5. David Hazeel
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    David Hazeel New Member

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    I would tend to lean towards using italics as they make a clear distinction whilst not looking odd or out of place, as I feel asterisks and square brackets etc would.
     
  6. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    There's no real right or wrong answer. Some may try to tell you there's one proper way but in the end it's just a style preference. Choose whichever you feel a better fit for you and/or the story.
     
  7. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    What you should do is establish a consistent style so that whenever the reader sees it, they know it is telepathic dialogue. "Everyone knows this is a quote because of the quotations around it, am I right?"

    I use italicized quotes when writing telepathic dialogue.
     
  8. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    I prefer using italics. That way, you can distinguish between verbal communication and telepathic and you don't have to "point out" that the characters are using telepathy.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It should be made clear by context, not typographic tricks. It's dialogue, just over a different medium than telephone or radio.
     
  10. Ti Odio E Ti Amo
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    Ti Odio E Ti Amo New Member

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    I would use italics also, simply because it is softer than actually using quotaions, just as if you were thinking something.
     
  11. AnarchicQ
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    AnarchicQ Member

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    Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. It looks like italics might be the best rout to go.
     
  12. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    Going off of what Ti Odio E Ti Amo said, I disagree because italic is usually associated with thoughts, not telepathy. Aka, thinking is softer than telepathy, and telepathy is softer than talking. So I would leave italic for thinking, and do what cogito said.
    Nate
     
  13. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Turning that around, you can say telepathy is thinking, just in a way that other characters can hear. And really, it is.

    I would use italics, because, as has been said already, it can get pretty awkward in certain situations with just using quotation marks. For instance... Jack can speak telepathically to other people. He's using telepathy to speak to Ryan, who is several miles away, but he's also speaking out loud to Frank and Andrew, who are right in front of him. It's fine for a while, even if the author does have to say who Jack is speaking to every time he says something. But now other people are joining the conversation. Jill joins the telepathic conversation, and Jason joins the vocal conversation. And, oh, look here come Michael and Leslie, and there's John too. Wait... Who is telepathic again? Jason? No, that's Michael... Wait, Jack, who are you speaking to when you say you like vanilla ice cream? You're talking to everyone about ice cream!

    ...You get the idea. Point is, if there are a lot of people that a telepathic person is talking to, both with his mouth and his mind, it can get quite confusing unless you clarify who the telepathic character is speaking to with every line of speech, which is just awkward and annoying. Easy solution: italics.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Randy spoke with Jim telepathically from a mile away. "You're asking her out today."

    Okay fine, Jim thought.

    "Well then, get on with it."

    All right, all right, Jim yelled in his mind.

    Jim wiped his hands on his jeans. Then he finally strolled over to Sasha. "Hi." His face felt hot.

    "Hi? That's the best you could come up with?" Randy's voice loud and clear in Jim's mind.

    Oh shuddap, Jim thought.

    "Hey," Sasha said.

    "Go on ask her out."

    "I was wondering," Jim said. "Do you like bowling?"

    "Bowling? Damn, you're helpless."

    You're not helping, Randy.

    "Umm, bowling?" Sasha asked.

    "Say you were joking," Karen said in Jim's mind.

    Jim wondered where Kim was.

    "At the mall," Karen said.

    Jim tugged on his shirt. "I was just kidding about the bowling thing."

    Sasha sipped her soda. "Oh."

    "She thinks you’re a complete moron," Randy said, "good job."

    I don't know, I think if you continued to handle it like this it shouldn't get confusing. Even if you use italics instead of quotes, if more than one person is talking telepathically, you will still have to use tags so we know who is talking telepathically.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    It posted twice for some reason, so I edited this one.
     
  16. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Well, the places where Jim was speaking through his mind are places where I would put italics, just because it's not narration and he's not speaking aloud. I can see quotations working for people speaking (or "thinking") to the telepathic person from some distance away, but not with the telepathic person thinking to other people. The difference is that the people who are far away are... well, far away, so of course they're not speaking aloud. But with the point of view character, it gets more clumsy. He/she could actually be speaking aloud to someone three feet away, since he/she is the point of view character and the reader is right by his/her side. That's when you would have to add in more and longer tags than are really necessary.

    That's what I think, anyway. Maybe some people could make it work with all quotations, but I don't think I could. Not without making it sound like it was all slapped together in five minutes.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For what it's worth, I NEVER advocate using italics for thinking (internal dialogue). Neither does the Chicago Manual of Style, or any other well-accepted writing guide I have found.

    The preferred way of punctuating internal dialogue is exactly like external dialogue, but without the outer level quote marks. Any embedded quotes would then use the quote marks used for the outermost level in ordinary dialogue (double quotes in the US, also acceptable in most other English language markets).
     
  18. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I personally hate it when authors don't use italics. It's like the author is giving a summary of what the character is thinking rather than the actual thoughts. That's probably just me, but I still hate it. Plus, unless the lines of thought are in first person (for example, if they just say something like, "What was that?" with no tag, as I see far too often), it's a little more difficult to tell if it's the character's thought or if it's narration. Italicized, there is no question that needs to be asked. It's thought, plain and simple. I really don't see why anyone would discourage it.
     
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  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The author may be narrating what the toughts are, or may be quoting them. The context usually makes that clear, and if not, italics is a poor way to make it clear.

    I can't abide her nattering is a literal thought, and He wished she'd suddenly be stricken dumb is a narrated thought. No italics are needed to make it clear, even though both are in the same paragraph.

    Telepathy, however, is still dialogue between tw separate individuals. For this reason, it should be quoted. It doesn't matter whether people are conversing face to face, over the phone, via insterstellar comm link, or mind-to-mind. It is external dialogue.
     
  20. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    It's all really a matter of opinion. *shrug* Some like to use italics, some don't.

    When it comes to the publication process it's a different issue--then it's the editor, I think, who decides--but until then people can use whichever method they prefer, as long as they're consistent.

    It's weird how whenever the italics argument comes around people start to try to lambaste each other into agreeing. A style manual might say how to do something, but don't style manuals change over time?

    (The answer--yes, they do. In Dickens's day, telling and not showing was pretty standard, for example.)
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    They do change over time. That's why I specify that my Chicago Manual of Style is the latest edition - the 15th.

    The point is, you should not write to depend on italics (or any other typesetting indicator). I always mark my internal dialogue with its own named style, so I can easily change it to italics if that is what the publisher prefers. But when I proofread it or offer iut for critique, I leave it as unadorned text. If it's unclear in that form, the writing needs to be fixed.

    Always write to the highest standard you are capable of, and you'll never have to depend on stunts to convey your meaning to the reader.
     
  22. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I've never depended on it, that's just what I prefer. It makes thought stand out more from the narration for me, and I don't have to wait for a tag to realize that it's the character speaking, not the narrator. Because thoughts don't always make it clear right away. For example, "What was that?" could be either thought or narration, and it usually makes sense either way. That's not so bad, since that phrase is short and any tag that comes after it would be right there. You wouldn't have to wait to find out if it's the narrator's or the character's words. But for longer phrases, like "After all those years of using italics for thoughts in his writing, that guy still couldn't explain why very well," it could either be a part of the narrative or a character thinking about someone he/she knew in the past. I'll sometimes start out thinking it's the narrator speaking rather than the character, or vice-versa, since the tag is so far away... if that makes sense. It can be a bit disorienting.

    I know, the problem could be cleared up by putting the tag before the thoughts, but I really don't like it when authors do that, either. I really can't explain why on that one, especially since I've even been known to do it myself. :confused: It could also be cleared up without even using a tag by surrounding it with wording that suggests it's a character thinking, which is what I think you're talking about, but if it's not necessary or just makes things seem a little wordy...

    I'm sorry. I see where you're coming from, but at the same time, I don't. I agree you shouldn't depend on italics (except, maybe, for emphasis :p), but I don't think they should be left out altogether if the author knows what he/she is doing. Saying to not use italics for thoughts is, in my mind, much the same as saying to not use a knife to spread the butter on your toast. In other words, they're not vital for conveying thought, but they're useful, so why not?

    And if it's a matter of a publication preferring no italics, then that's fine for me, since the program I write on has a feature that lets me export the text to Microsoft Word with no modified font.

    ...I know, wordy post. Hopefully half of it made sense...
     
  23. aintmisbehavin
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    aintmisbehavin New Member

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    I don't know what your plans are for this story, but I've always heard that when attempting to have something published you should never use italics in the manuscript. If you want a good chance of being published I think your best bet is to follow a known Manual of Style like Cogito suggests. I believe it is usually suggested that you underline the text in question and if it is picked up by a publisher they will take care of italics and such.

    Some links that might help:

    http://www.pammc.com/format.htm

    http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

    http://www.neverend.com/msformat.htm
     

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