1. Dan Rhodenizer

    Dan Rhodenizer New Member

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    Italics for thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Dan Rhodenizer, Jul 25, 2007.

    When it's the main character's thoughts in a first person story, do you use italics for it? Or what are some other options?
     
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  2. LionofPerth

    LionofPerth New Member

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    Italics often show thought rather than speach, so I guess you could use them.

    I'm not sure how many other ways to show thought there are. You can have internal monologues, as he thinks about what he is going to do, or what has happened.

    I guess it depends on what type of thought you need to show.
     
  3. Dan Rhodenizer

    Dan Rhodenizer New Member

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    Well here is an example. I don't think this one is really a thought. But I'm going to be using Italics for some of my quite thoughts now.

    Edit: Never mind, fixed it up, and also noticed I was using past tense where it wasn't necessary.
     
  4. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You may want to read this thread, which has discussed this very question extensively:
    How do you write character thoughts?
     
  5. mypensmysoul

    mypensmysoul New Member

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    I usually write by hand, so I usually just underline them, or if it is a particularly long thought that I dont want to bother with underlining, I will just put quotation marks around it and add a "he thought" or whatever to the end so I understand when I am revising what exactly it is. When it's only a rough draft, it really doesn't matter that much.
     
  6. Dan Rhodenizer

    Dan Rhodenizer New Member

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    Okay, I have a question. If you're gonna say something like this in a novel: "WHAM—A helicopter smashes right in front of us" Do you use that in italics, like shown? Or do you just quote it with italics? Or do you do both: quote it and use italics?

    Same question for this "Help! I heard," like if it's a distant noise. Thanks in advance :D
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher New Member

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    Onomatopoeia is generally expressed with italics. So any sound would be written in italics.

    As for the shout? It could be in italics, because people tend to write one or two words in italics within quotes of dialogue to express a direct emphasis on said words. It would be pretty clear that the shout was a spoken word if it were in italics without quotes either. And I've seen people write in all caps to express loudness. It's really up to you, and whatever you find to keep the clutter out of your writing.

    P.S. I hope you don't ever write "WHAM - A Helicopter smashes right in front of us!" in a novel :p
     
  8. Dan Rhodenizer

    Dan Rhodenizer New Member

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    Why is that? lol, because I am actually. Any suggestions on the following would be great (I'm a new writer and this is my first story)

    "An ear-splitting explosion was heard. Hundreds of rocks were lifted into the air. I was deaf for a moment; I could only hear a sharp ringing noise in my ears. Then I heard this loud bristling sound… WHAM—A helicopter smashed right in front of us, rocks and debris were bringing the helicopters down."

    :) I know it doesn't make sense, but it would if you were to read the 1st chapter in order :p
     
  9. xxkozxx

    xxkozxx Active Member

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    I was taught that for character thought you would actually use single quotes instead of double quotes. Italics would be used for things such as sounds line Wham! or Bang! I have also seen italics used to show a reflection in time or a flashback.

    As far as your example goes. You don't need quotes at all and I would just italicize the Wham and that should do it.
     
  10. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    can't imagine where you'd have been taught that, koz, since singles are correctly used only for quotes within quotes [in the us, anyway]...
     
  11. Daniel W

    Daniel W New Member

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    when someone is thinking, is this how it is meant to be? I'm pretty sure it is, but i can't exactly remember, so i want to know for sure before i start having people thinking things in my novel.

    "wooooooh!" he thought.
     
  12. Hulk

    Hulk Banned

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    In most novels they use italics. For example:



    Boy, it's cold here, Damian thought, rubbing his arms.
     
  13. Daniel W

    Daniel W New Member

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    Hmm, didn't think about that. So i put a comma after the italics writing.
     
  14. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Hulk's right. The usual practice is to use italics, or simply put it in normal text. Using quotes confuses it for the reader.
     
  15. Daniel W

    Daniel W New Member

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    Ok, thank you. That's all i need to know.
     
  16. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not really true. It's not an uncommon practice, but the preferred approach is to use ordinary text, not italicized.

    This is often referred to as internal dialogue.
     
  17. Daniel W

    Daniel W New Member

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    I think i get what you mean. Luckily for me, no one has thought anything in my story yet.

    I think i am about half way through the first chapter, and i look forward to posting it and seeing what everyone thinks about it.
     
  18. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog is right, as usual... while novels by most beginning and non-professional writers may use italics, most of the pros don't, as a rule... a good writer doesn't need to use tricks to let the readers know the character is thinking...

    in any case, only spoken aloud dialog can be put in " " though some who don't know better use them for thoughts, too...
     
  19. Victorian girl

    Victorian girl New Member

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    Hi.

    I use italics when portraying thoughts but not sure if this is appropriate.

    So how do others deal with thoughts to seperate them from ordinary speech, is it using italics?

    Thanks,

    Michelle xx
     
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  20. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't use italics. Use normal text.
     
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  21. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributor Contributor

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    How you distinguish things in a working manuscript is upto you. My entire novel is based on a character's thoughts so I need to use normal text.

    I was taught by world class historians, when writing history texts to put quotes and other people's ideas in italics. So habit would probably see me put my fictional character's thoughts in italics. Thoughts appear in italics in printed texts, and I personally like to be able to distinguish thoughts from the rest of text.

    My English Usage books differ on whether to put thoughts in italics. So guess its your judgement call as to what works best in your text.
     
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  22. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good writers don't have to resort to fancy fontery to let their readers know what someone is thinking...
     
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  23. Loaded-Dice

    Loaded-Dice New Member

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    Dan Brown & Tom Clancy spring to mind for using italics for thoughts.

    Robert Ludlum does too, but only for repeating with emphasis what someone has already said, for example.

    Eighteen hours! Scofield heard the words clearly over the thunderclaps. Was it so bad? Eighteen hours?
     
  24. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If by working manuscript, you mean for your eyes only, you are correct. But if you plan to submit the manuscript, you cannot just do whatever you want. There are standards. Some are more rigidly enforced than oters, but there are standards.

    Perhaps, but it also may be their publishers who added the italics.

    In any case, it is incorrect. There are correct uses for italics, and there are incorrect uses. Many writers, especially new ones, think you can use italics like a highlighter pen to decorate anything you wish to stand out. Incorrect.
     
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  25. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributor Contributor

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    Given the men who taught me to use italics are well published and intensively peer reviewed, and were training me for the same I think its something that is evolving rather than incorrect. The English Language evolves or you would be speaking Anglo Saxon and I'd be using Doric or maybe a form of Pictish:).

    My understanding at university was the use of italics was increasing because of increasing use of word processors. Things that would previously be underlined could now be placed in italics.

    Presumably the same is true with our manuscripts which would explain contradictory English Usage books. It also seems to evolve much faster in the UK to the US, probably because language here is so varied. We have lots of colloquialisms, dialects etc that filter down and have an impact on our mainstream language. The Queen is a lot less 'RP' than she was fifty years ago her turn of phrase is differnt. The US doesn't vary is language over just a few miles like we do in the UK it changes more slowly and over greater distances.

    yes I meant working manuscript, I use different standards for myself. I use yellow highlighter that won't be going off, but helps me in my working.
     

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