1. Ahen

    Ahen New Member

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    Punctuating Thunk Thoughts

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ahen, Jan 3, 2017.

    I have seen several different methods for delineating a specific internalized thought a character thinks in text, but there seems to be no common agreement regarding the proper way to punctuate it.

    For instance:
    I'm not going in there, he thought.

    I have seen no quotes, double quotes, single quotes, italics. Now, all I can do is second guess every attempt and I keep tearing one out and applying another solution.

    Does anyone know the best way to handle this for a manuscript sent to an agent/publisher?
     
  2. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    There's an infinitely long thread about italics for thoughts. Many people would use italics for this. I am not one of them. I hate italics for thoughts with a fiery passion. But if you're going to use them, I think that this would be correct if you accept the italics-for-thoughts convention:

    He peered through the door, then stepped back, shaking his head. I'm not going in there.

    You could use a thought tag. I don't like these much either.

    He peered through the door, then stepped back, shaking his head. I'm not going in there, he thought.

    I think that quotes are pretty much universally not a good idea, so I'm not even going to present an example.

    I would use neither italics or quotes. I'd shift to a third person thought:

    He peered through the door, then stepped back, shaking his head. He wasn't going in there.

    However, I'd try to eliminate the third person element of the thought, while still including the character voice/mood in the thought:

    He peered through the door, then stepped back, shaking his head. Not going in there, no, sir, not happening. Nope.
     
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  4. Ahen

    Ahen New Member

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    o_O

    So, the problem is that common. Ok, I think I'll just pick on thing and stick with it. The agent or publisher can tell me later what they prefer and I'll change it.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Eh...that's a "yes, but." I wouldn't stall your writing while you make this decision, but I would suggest doing some research on the most common convention used in your chosen genre, and ideally also finding out the preference of your target agents before you actually submit.
     
  6. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I don't like saying "he thought." To me a thought is a vague abstract concept which is not the same thing as inner monologue.

    He thought the house was haunted.
    He thought the house was haunted.

    To me, these mean completely different things. One is a general thought about the house, one is a specific thing he actually said internally.
     
  7. Integer

    Integer Member

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    Sorry about the thread hijack but I could also use some advice on how to punctuate action after dialogue. E.g.

    "Get away from me!" She kicked him in the nads.

    "Get away from me!" she kicked him in the nads.

    "Get away from me!" - she kicked him in the nads.

    "Get away from me!"

    She kicked him in the nads.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The first one.
     
  9. Ahen

    Ahen New Member

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    It certainly wouldn't make any sense in that context or with that punctuation. However:

    This house is haunted, he thought.

    Would work to represent an audible thought (even though this example is so basic, it's not really necessary).

    A better example might be:

    Remember what Mr Halloran said, Danny thought. It’s just like pictures in a book. It isn’t real.
     

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