1. jnk1296
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    jnk1296 Member

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    Using quotation marks to show character thoughts

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jnk1296, Oct 1, 2011.

    While rewriting one of my chapters, I discovered that I've used several methods of portraying character thoughts.

    I have this style: Character thoughts are in bold for the purpose of them being easier to spot.
    And then I have this style:
    I guess my question is: Should I or should I not use quotation marks when showing character thoughts? As far as I know, I would think that quotation marks would be reserved for speech, but I could be wrong.
     
  2. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I only use italic for thoughts, no quotations.

    Example:
    Bob got out of his car and walked towards the mall. Man, I wish I didn't have to work tonight.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    A lot of people here will tell you not to use italics. It doesn't bother me when I read it in books, but with italics you don't need the quotes. Even without italics I wouldn't use quotes for thoughts.
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I don't bother with anything spectacular for thoughts.

    Poor example, but an example nonetheless. The only part of the thought is the profanity. The idea is that it should just be obvious. If it's not obvious, make it so it is.
     
  5. mazzee
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    mazzee New Member

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    As a reader, I've always been fond of italics. But I definitely prefer quotation marks to nothing at all.
     
  6. jnk1296
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    jnk1296 Member

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    Alright. Thank you all for your replies. I, more than likely, will be making thoughts all without quotations.

    I know that from experience. I once asked a question about italics several months back, and the responses I received pushed me to bar them from my writing entirely. I don't miss them, either.
     
  7. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Personally, I love it when an author uses italics for thoughts. It gets me excited every time I see one coming up. Putting "He/she thought" instead of italics ruins the pace in my opinion.
     
  8. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I've seen italics. It doesn't bother me. But I've also seen it without italics. The consensus, I believe, is without italics because that makes the other italicized text stand out more. My advice is to use italics, but write thoughts so it's obvious they're thoughts without the use of italics. That way, if an agent prefers thoughts in regular font, you can do a search to remove italics from all thoughts. It's not as tedious as you would think to go through each italicized piece of text to un-italicize thoughts.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second this--but this advice actually makes italics redundant, doesn't it? I really, really despise italics for thoughts, because it seems to me that the writer can't make him/herself clear enough just by writing, but has to have the crutch of visual clues. However, in the one and only romantic novel I've had published--years ago--some italics for thoughts were put in afterward, without asking me, as part of the editing process.

    You'll notice that not using inverted commas/speech marks for thoughts is a fairly recent thing. In older novels, the thoughts are usually treated like dialogue:
    'What am I going to do?' she thought.

    In one magazine I submitted to, they wanted "..." for spoken words, and '...' for thoughts. I don't know how typical this is. Check guidelines if you submit to magazines or publishers directly.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    using quotation marks is totally incorrect... they're to be used only for spoken dialog, quoted material, or for emphasizing a word used out of context... to use them for thoughts would be not only wrong, but confusing to the reader...

    bold should never be used in a ms and is not used in print, so that's a major no-no, too...

    as for using italics, while it's frequently seen in print, good writers can let their readers know when a character is thinking without resorting to fancy fontery... so using them in your ms only leads agents/editors/publishers to conclude that you can't...
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a contemporary idea, and a question of style more than being 'wrong'. It's only since novels have come to be written strongly from one POV that introspection has a much more dynamic and greater place in the narrative. When you read Charles Dickens or something, you'll get:
    Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket in play had to do with his chances of being a great man...
    or you often have the character speaking or thinking out loud to him/herself:
    'I must not dwell on it,' said she...
    Or, you get the type of example I give above. But as mammamaia says, it can get really confusing for the reader if there are too many inverted commas flying about, and italics can be awkward if you use them for emphasis and foreign languages also--so the sensible thing would be to make your writing so clear that no punctuation trickery is need.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    for some reason, this post came up double although I only sent it once...
     
  13. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I typically don't use quotes for thoughts cause we realistically don't typically think in textual sentences the way that we speak. (At least I don't usually.) I think in images or video, or ideas. So to me, regular prose can work to convey thoughts merely as part of the narration. Maybe it's just my style. And I can't say I've never conveyed a textual thought, it's just not my norm.
     

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