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Old 12-03-2006, 12:27 AM   #1
billyf027
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Thoughts, are they italized or not?

A publication I saw stated that thoughts should be italizied. Most books don't italize thoughts. Any thoughts on the subject?
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:36 AM   #2
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I italicize them. Saves having to put "I thought" after them. (Mind, I have a tendency to write in the first person.)

If I was writing third person omniscient, I don't think I'd italicize. I think I'd just add "he thought" "she thought".
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:36 AM   #3
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I italicize thoughts in most occasions, but when I'm writing in a POV that has a very short psychic distance I'll sometimes just integrate things like "This couldn't be happening!" or "Where was it?" into the narration, without any special markings, even if they are technically character thoughts.
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyf027
A publication I saw stated that thoughts should be italizied. Most books don't italize thoughts. Any thoughts on the subject?
Let me check ...
<Thinks to self:> Self? Do you think in italics?
<Self responds:> Yes.
Yup.


Honestly though, italics are the easiest way to indicate a character's thoughts as dialogue separate from the narrator's describing them.
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyf027
A publication I saw stated that thoughts should be italizied. Most books don't italize thoughts. Any thoughts on the subject?
Just about every novel I've read italicizes thoughts. But you have to realize that thoughts come in two flavors. One really isn't a direct thought at all, and this is the most commont type. "He thought he might go to the mall later."

Italiziced thoughts are direct thoughts, and are important. If they aren't important enough to deserve italics, which are there for emphasis, they shouldn't be direct thoughts at all. My God, he thought, Lisa is the killer.
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Old 12-03-2006, 01:03 AM   #6
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Italics is a spice, don’t over do it. Generally, you wouldn’t use italics and thought tags. You can dispense with both so long as it’s clear:

Was he crazy? No, no way. She’d actually said it. Unbelievable!

In this case, you’re paraphrasing his thoughts, and the opening question indicates it's a thought.

Last edited by Julie Worth; 12-03-2006 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 12-03-2006, 01:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie Worth
Italics is a spice, don’t over do it. Generally, you wouldn’t use italics and thought tags. You can dispense with both so long as it’s clear:

Was he crazy? No, no way. She’d actually said it. Unbelievable!

In this case, you’re paraphrasing his thoughts, and the opening question indicates it's a thought.
With an important thought, I generally do use italics and a tag. You wouldn't do so every time, but sometimes it's definitely the best way to go. "Was he crazy?" may indicate it's a thought, and but it may also not be understood this way by the average reader, at least not quick enough to avoid confusion.

Tags are also there for another reason, and that's timing. In fact, one of the prime uses of a tag is to change the rhythm of a sentence, to make the reader pause at the right spot, or to simply draw out the critical ending of the sentence. This can be highly important, and can make all the difference in how well a sentence reads, and the impact it has on a reader.

Last edited by Jamesaritchie; 12-03-2006 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 12-03-2006, 03:00 AM   #8
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S.M. Stirling uses italics for thoughts quite effectively. I'm reading Dies the Fire at the moment.
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyf027
A publication I saw stated that thoughts should be italizied. Most books don't italize thoughts. Any thoughts on the subject?

Most books that I've read italicize thoughts. However, a few books I've read have put single quotes at each end of a thought and called it good that way.

Are you submitting your work to the publication you mentioned? If so, you should most certainly follow their submission requirements, regardless of how other companies work.


I hope this helps, and good luck to you.
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:54 AM   #10
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Old 12-03-2006, 07:38 PM   #11
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Somebody's got to take the con position or we don't have a debate team.

If you're writing in first person POV, how can you distinguish narration from thought? First person also means you don't need thought tags.

Compare
Quote:
I trailed James into the powder room. He scowled at his reflection until I reached over his wide shoulders to snug his tie against his collar. Thank you, high heels, I thought. I ran my nails through the shock of blond hair that threatened to fall onto his forehead, and he smiled at my reflection before turning around.
with
Quote:
I trailed James into the powder room. He scowled at his reflection until I reached over his wide shoulders to snug his tie against his collar. Thank you, high heels. I ran my nails through the shock of blond hair that threatened to fall onto his forehead, and he smiled at my reflection before turning around.
and with
Quote:
I trailed James into the powder room. He scowled at his reflection until I reached over his wide shoulders to snug his tie against his collar. Thank you, high heels. I ran my nails through the shock of blond hair that threatened to fall onto his forehead, and he smiled at my reflection before turning around.
Not deathless prose, but I don't believe the tag or the italics add a thing.

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