Author Topic: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?  (Read 7881 times)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2014, 02:33:00 PM »
Fully understood yours too, Dawn. ::)

JewelAS53

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2014, 02:36:57 PM »
Fully understood yours, too, Dawn

Jo Bannister

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2014, 03:36:39 PM »
‘Yes, Ma’am.’ McKay sidled down the embankment and joined the others.

I could be at home unpacking that mountain of boxes. She glanced at her watch.

I understand it too, Dawn, but I don't think it's great.  If you're wedded to it, change the sequence:

She glanced at her watch.  I could be at home, unpacking that mountain of boxes.

That way, at least you've identified who "I" is. 

I still think there are better ways of writing - this, and other offerings - so that the issue doesn't arise.

She glanced at her watch.  But what she saw was the mountain of boxes waiting at home for her to begin unpacking.

There's almost nothing you can do with words that doesn't have a valid use somewhere.  But maybe these internal debates should be kept for when there's no other way to proceed.  Apart from the problems of tense and syntax they create, they tend to have a braking effect on the flow.  The danger is that your reader is going to think (internally, of course), It's all very well telling me what she was thinking - but what did she actually do?



Offline Dawn

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2014, 03:48:22 PM »
I agree, Jo, it was just to show an example.  It may not be perfect but I use it to drive the story forward. We need to know she has recently moved. I agree that internalised thoughts should be only used for a reason.
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Offline Matt Walker

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #34 on: June 30, 2014, 04:02:54 PM »
Fully understood both of your examples.

Nick, you are right - "It was time to say goodbye, he thought." is of course acceptable. But I would offer that that too is narration because it can be rearranged thus:

He thought it was time to say goodbye.

which is narration.

It is difficult to find examples, which suggests one should try and keep them to a minimum as you and others have suggested. But I did find two examples in Justin Cronin's "The Twelve".

It was, he thought, to Nelson's credit that he didn't indulge himself with a second I-told-you-so.

This is similar to your "It was time to say goodbye, he thought" example, and I would argue that it is narration because it can be rearranged as

He thought it was to Nelson's credit that he didn't indulge himself with a second I-told-you-so.

The other example is

Amy, she thought, Amy, my sister in blood. All I ask is this. Let me be the one to kill Martinez.

This is a thought spoken internally, and as such is treated similarly to dialogue but without the speech marks. It is in present tense, and just happens to be in italics, although it needn't have been. You couldn't rearrange it as above.

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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #35 on: June 30, 2014, 04:18:28 PM »
I understand it too, Dawn, but I don't think it's great.  If you're wedded to it, change the sequence:

She glanced at her watch.  I could be at home, unpacking that mountain of boxes.

That way, at least you've identified who "I" is. 

I still think there are better ways of writing - this, and other offerings - so that the issue doesn't arise.

She glanced at her watch.  But what she saw was the mountain of boxes waiting at home for her to begin unpacking.

There's almost nothing you can do with words that doesn't have a valid use somewhere.  But maybe these internal debates should be kept for when there's no other way to proceed.  Apart from the problems of tense and syntax they create, they tend to have a braking effect on the flow.  The danger is that your reader is going to think (internally, of course), It's all very well telling me what she was thinking - but what did she actually do?

Jo, I like the way you redid the above. It makes what she is thinking and feeling clear without any hitches for the reader.  :)
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2014, 05:38:13 PM »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

That's part of her problem -- no release, until 'Muriel' appears. Also, in NI, 'image' and 'control' are a big deal -- lots of repressed feelings. ;) If she was an ashtray thrower, a screamer or a crockery breaker she might not have needed her alter ego. :D

Offline jackevee

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2014, 09:56:22 PM »
I've seen a lot of books where the Italic parts were someone's voice in the M.C.'s head. 
Also, it can totally be used for sarcasm.   ;)

Offline bailish

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2014, 03:24:13 AM »
"Jim, are you in there?" No reply. Had he heard me? I raised my voice and tried again.

This sounds fine to me, but I recently saw a blogpost stating that the use of rhetorical questions in writing is a newbie technique that should be avoided. The question, 'Had he heard me?', is not addressed to anyone and no answer is expected, so it is rhetorical. Anyone else agree with this rule?

Jo Bannister

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Re: Internalized thoughts—when to use italics?
« Reply #39 on: July 23, 2014, 02:18:17 PM »
It sounds OK to me, too, Bailish.  But maybe it would sound just as well without the question at all.  There's no reply - he raises his voice and asks again - obviously, he's wondering if Jim had heard him.

Maybe it's one of those little grace-notes that are fine to use occasionally but become a distraction if there are too many of them.