1. marcusl
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    marcusl Member

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    Would this count as mind reading?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by marcusl, Oct 3, 2009.

    Let's say I'm writing a story about a thief who is running from the police. The tale unfolds from the criminal's perspective. Now, if I write:

    "The cops had abandoned their search, as they steered their cars around and returned to the station."

    Would this count as mind reading? After all, the thief wouldn't know if the police have decided to give up. Would I have to write:

    "The cops appeared to have abandoned their search..."

    Thanks heaps.
     
  2. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    Looks like mind reading to me. The thief wouldn't know where the cops were going - for all he knew, they could have been called away to a bigger target.

    edit: Or if they are still looking, but think he ran elsewhere....
     
  3. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    Well, if you've been sticking to the thief's point of view, saying that the cops have given up is simply what the thief thinks. He could be wrong, but if he thinks that they're leaving, then I don't see a problem. Short answer: I think you can word it in such a way that it does not fall under "mind reading".
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What would the thief really know? He no longer sees cruisers or hears sirens, he doesn't see any uniformed cops swarming around. But he doesn't know he has shaken off all pursuit. There could still be a cop, smarter than the rest, still searching the area.

    Anything more is guesswork and assumptions on his part.
     
  5. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    It sounds like you're just slipping into omniscient, which would be a goof if it doesn't jive with the rest of the story. Or it could be fine, depending on what you've written so far and how you've written it.
     
  6. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Sounds like the thief is just guessing to me.
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    The thief couldn't know that, but that doesn't mean you can't write it, especially if you're writing in 3rd person already (unless you're totally devoted to realism).
     
  8. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    When I think of mind reading I think of something like:

    What a beautiful day Chris reflected to himself.
    "It IS a beautiful day Chris, we should do something." Said Mary with great spookiness.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    What would the thief be thinking about if he saw the cops cars turn around and head back in the direction of the police station?

    Those are the thoughts I want to know. If he truly thinks they gave up, then that's fine, but I think he should have other reasons for thinking that. He should at least doubt.

    The cop cars turned around, heading back toward the police station. Maybe they gave up. But what if someone is still searching? He chose to stay to the shadows and pretended he was still being pursued.

    Something like that seems more believable to me.
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    ^ But that Realism is a stylistic choice, not a necessity. I'm not sayng its bad advice, just feel like someone needs to dissent on this thread :)

    Never let the laws of the real world interfere with your work. They only apply if you let them. If its looking like Realism is the way to go, write it realistically, but never think that that is the only path...
     

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