Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 46

Thread: Italicize internal thoughts or not?

  1. #1

    Italicize internal thoughts or not?

    I have one MC, the only POV character in the story. This is NOT going to be in first person, no way, no how, but he does make a lot of mental comments about other characters and situations. IE, he only says about half of what he thinks. Kinda repressed.

    Anyway, just looking for thoughts: should I continue to italicize his internal thoughts, or would you be comfortable if I simply left them the same as the rest of the text? Example:

    With
    “Oh?” Okay, now it was awkward. Yes, the gift was mine. No, that doesn't automatically make us best friends.

    Without
    “Oh?” Okay, now it was awkward. Yes, the gift was mine. No, that doesn't automatically make us best friends.
    Goodreads - Twitter - Website - Facebook

    Courting Greta has been released into the wide world!
    I have also entered the world of self-pubbing with a short story, Christmas in the Californios, 1833.

  2. #2
    Gotta Knock a Little Harder Monolith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    15
    Without sounds like first person.

  3. #3
    cereal killer Palmfrond's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    socal
    Posts
    253
    I think you can establish your own rules here. Italicizing all the MC's thoughts might be a little hard to read, if they are frequent. As Mono points out, if the story is basically *all* thoughts, you have, voila, first person. Like it or not. As long as you decide what your rule is and stick to it, and it's consistent with your genre, you can do what you want. I think.

  4. #4
    Perhaps I ought to have used a longer example; he's not having first-person thoughts every paragraph or anything like that. I'd say average of once a page?
    Goodreads - Twitter - Website - Facebook

    Courting Greta has been released into the wide world!
    I have also entered the world of self-pubbing with a short story, Christmas in the Californios, 1833.

  5. #5
    Deinonychus antirrhopus Albedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    SYD
    Posts
    3,147
    If you don't want to italicise, I'd write it like this:


    “Oh?” Okay, now it was awkward. Yes, the gift was his (/hers). No, that didn't automatically make them best friends.

    Like Monolith said, without italics it makes it seem like a 1st person narrator has interjected. But that's reading it without context. My response might be different if I read a whole page.

  6. #6
    my name is hannah Shady Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Heretogether
    Posts
    44,931
    I use italics when I'm changing the word normally used for the speaker.

    Don't worry. I'll explain.

    When I'm in 3rd person:

    "Oh?” Okay, now it was awkward. Yes, the gift was his. No, that didn't make them best friends.

    Sans italics.

    or:

    Yes, the gift was mine. No, that doesn't automatically make us best friends.

    with italics. Because you're taking a speaker who's usually referred to as "he" and making him an "I."

    Works in 1st person too. Making up my own example that will work better for this:

    "I love you too," I said. God, I'm an idiot.

    no italics. Or:

    "I love you too, I said. God, you're an idiot.


    'cause you change persons there too.

    Do I make sense at all?
    YOUNG ADULT BOOKS:
    BREAK--Simon Pulse, 2009 BUY IT

    INVINCIBLE SUMMER--Simon Pulse, 2011 BUY IT
    GONE, GONE, GONE--Coming APRIL 17th, 2012, Simon Pulse BUY IT
    TEETH--Coming JANUARY 1ST, 2013, Simon Pulse
    --
    MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS:
    ZOMBIE TAG--Coming DECEMBER 20th, 2011, Roaring Brook Press BUY IT

    MARCO IMPOSSIBLE--Coming MARCH 2013, Roaring Brook Press


  7. #7
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    wgasa
    Posts
    43,744
    It's all about clarity and consistency

    In first person, there's no need to italicize (because it's first person!) unless there's ambiguity, or you want to be clear that it's some kind of immediate thoughts:


    She walked through the door. She was radiant. Wow, I can just pee my pants how gorgeous she is. Then I caught myself thinking impure thoughts about her.

    In third person, the general rule is that a direct thought should be italics to be set apart from the narrative:


    She walked through the door. She was radiant. Wow, I can just pee my pants how gorgeous she is, he thought. Then he caught himself thinking impure thoughts about her.

    If it's indirect thought, however, there's no need for italics:


    She walked through the door. She was radiant. Wow, he could just pee his pants how gorgeous she was. Then he caught himself thinking impure thoughts about her.

    I didn't want to work. It was as simple as that. I distrusted work, disliked it. I thought it was a very bad thing that the human race had unfortunately invented for itself.
    -- Agatha Christie





    The Pacific Between • A Bunch of Stories
    (2006 IPPY Award)

    WIP: Beyond the Banyan Tree - draft 9, 125,000 words

    Home Page | Blog | Reviews

  8. #8
    Mackinac Island Fanatic tehuti88's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Not here anymore
    Posts
    1,487
    I do what maestrowork mentions. If it's direct thoughts written exactly as the character thinks them (usually in first person since that's how most people think), I italicize. If it's just a summary/paraphrase of what the character is thinking (and ends up not being in first person), I don't italicize.

    As already mentioned, not italicizing (or otherwise indicating) first-person thoughts makes it seem like the story is suddenly shifting to first-person POV, which is jarring.
    "Trust that which gives you meaning and accept it as your guide."--Carl Jung

    "No canoes...no maple sugar...this place is horribly uncivilized."--Manabozho

    Official Mackinac Island Fanatic!

    Manabozho is my Savior.

    ~~~

    Writer of long online fantasy/mythology serials. Always looking for interested readers.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    US
    Posts
    26
    I was going to make a suggestion but everyone else beat me to it! The first novel I wrote was in first person, and my current project is in third. In certain parts, though, I really try to capture the "voice" and personality of whomever the novel is focusing in at the time. I've found that that often makes reads much more scintillating, so I really think you can pull that off with the advice Albedo gave you! Like everyone says, either italicize or reword it. But, you're the writer, and it just depends on the tone you're trying to achieve. Personally, I like it a little better changed and in third person w/o the italics, but that's just one opinion!
    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." -OSCAR WILDE

  10. #10
    Just another genre hack mrockwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    128
    Your editor/publisher may also have something to say on the issue. Wizards of the Coast, for instance, has pretty specific rules on how to delineate internal thoughts.

    Pick something, be consistent, but don't worry about it too much, as it could easily be changed by TPTB.

    -- Marcy
    Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell
    Skein of Shadows,
    Wizards of the Coast, 2012
    The Shard Axe, Wizards of the Coast, 2011
    Legacy of Wolves, Wizards of the Coast, 2007
    Twitter: @MarcyRockwell
    My website: Castles High and Fair

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW funidream's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    chicago area
    Posts
    247
    I italicize internal thoughts in my manuscripts, and that's how they were eventually published (Berkley/Penguin). I think it is a common style.
    http://www.christineblevins.com

    MIDWIFE OF THE BLUE RIDGE
    "Blevins doesn't soft-peddle the brutal realities of women's lot in the colonies, but she gives strong, skilled Maggie pluck and hope." - Publishers Weekly

    THE TORY WIDOW

    "...action and adventure, where the pages go by quickly as scenes are brought to life with evocative language and unerring syntax." - Historical Novels Review

  12. #12
    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    West Spiral Arm
    Posts
    3,750
    Both ways have been done successfully.

    “Oh?” Okay, now it was awkward. Yes, the gift was mine, he thought. No, that doesn't automatically make us best friends.

    or

    “Oh?” Okay, now it was awkward. He thought: Yes, the gift was mine. No, that doesn't automatically make us best friends.

    There are a million ways to do it, italics or not.
    WORDS!


    "There is no language without deceit." -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

    Quote Originally Posted by Drachen Jager View Post
    Always work at making different mistakes and you'll get there.

  13. #13
    Sick and absent Shweta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Away
    Posts
    8,048
    Minor diversion into cog sci --

    Italicizing, like quotes, sets the words off into a different visual and cognitive "space" - in this case, cognitively the space of the character's thoughts. Not italicizing them keeps them in the same space as the main narrative.

    So italicizing can make this distinction clearer (it's not the narrator it's the character), but sort of distances the thoughts by way of the separation.
    Not italicizing, on the other hand, can make pull the thoughts closer to the narrative voice. But if that gets them too close, you get reader confusion (which space am I in/why isn't it consistent).

    Every tool in our kit has an effect on the reader's brain. What matters is that the effect we get is the one we want, yes?
    Shweta Narayan
    Clariondiego alum

    Apsara and Displaced, Goblin Fruit, summer 2009
    Nira and I, Strange Horizons, March 16th 2009
    website

    Quote Originally Posted by Dichroic View Post
    The tricksters have unionized.
    Be very afraid.
    ---
    2009 Acceptances: 6
    Year 3 Submission game score: 1.5
    Pieces currently out: 3

  14. #14
    Historicals and Horror rule donroc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Winter Haven, Florida
    Posts
    7,509
    I italicize, and that is the way it is published.





    "Chronology is not destiny"
    Donald Michael Platt

    "If, as Napoleon said, History is a myth agreed upon, let mine be the definitive myth."
    Donald Michael Platt

    www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6OtI&feature=channel_page

  15. #15
    Dangerous with a Keyboard johnzakour's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,939
    Just be consistent and you will be fine. Since my books tend to deal first person with telepathy I never italicize regular thoughts but I do italicize characters thoughts to others.
    www.johnzakour.com

    www.myspace.com/johnzakour

    http://jzwriting.blogspot.com/ yes I am blogging about the writing process from mind to book store now.

  16. #16
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    22,920
    Italicization is the common way of doing this.

    You don't necessarily have to italicize (see, for example, The Killer Angels.)

    The rule is: Don't confuse the reader.

  17. #17
    Real Men Have Gills OpheliaRevived's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    The Cold Deep
    Posts
    995
    I like the use of italics for thoughts.

  18. #18
    Dancing on the edge Brindle Chase's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    1,256
    Quote Originally Posted by Palmfrond View Post
    I think you can establish your own rules here. Italicizing all the MC's thoughts might be a little hard to read, if they are frequent. As Mono points out, if the story is basically *all* thoughts, you have, voila, first person. Like it or not. As long as you decide what your rule is and stick to it, and it's consistent with your genre, you can do what you want. I think.
    Yep yep. Be consistent and the reader will get the hang of your style.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    141
    Great thread, I was asking myself exactly the same question!
    Book reviews - all types of books except trash like celebrities biographies.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW AuthorGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wading River LI NY
    Posts
    129
    My editor told me to either a) italicize, but without any phrase like 'he thought to himself', or b) use single quotes without italics, and 'he thought to himself' is OK. I mostly use the first method, but only for very short thoughts. I don't think in great long paragraphs to myself all the time and find it very unrealistic to read. I present my character's internal states as flashes of emotion or sensation, with a short thought fragment to spell it out if needed.
    Marc Vun Kannon
    www.marcvunkannon.com
    http://authorguy.wordpress.com

    Steampunk Santa
    That first sleigh had to come from somewhere!

  21. #21
    Teh doommobile, drivin' rite by you mscelina's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Going shopping with Soccer Mom and Bubastes for fudz. Not pie. I do not share pie. EVER.
    Posts
    20,008
    The style rules at the houses I edit for say to italicize thoughts but you cannot use any sort of tag with it.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW Severian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    154
    I personally use italics for thoughts in my own scribblings.
    But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,/ And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"/ This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore"/ Merely this, and nothing more.

  23. #23
    give it to me straight Brandt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,386
    Great contributions here. Good info for writers like myself with less experience.

    Thanks for the thread.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    613
    Oh! This was very helpful to me also. Thanks for finding and bumping it.

  25. #25
    Angel Wing Fetish VoireyLinger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Southern US
    Posts
    1,489
    If the MS is third and the internalized thought is first, I use italics. if not, I leave it alone.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search