thoughts in italics, quotations and paragraph structure

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Tybodger

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I'm just wondering about expression of thoughts in writing. I've been looking online and so far I've learned that italics may be used in place of quotation marks but I've also heard that either can become tiresome over the course of a 300 page+ novel. I'd like a few opinions on what is generally preferred. I also have a second part to this topic and that is paragraph structure of these thoughts. Should a new paragraph be started like in the case of dialogue or should thoughts flow in the paragraph naturally. A few sites have actually mentioned indentation as a way other than italics or quotation marks to identify thought but they also warned of excessive repetition when thoughts are used consistantly throughtout. It was also suggested that indented thoughts can lead to confusion as to where paragraphs begin and end when multiple paragraphs contain indented thought. Please help me clarify this. It's really bothering me.
 

Raymott

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I'm just wondering about expression of thoughts in writing. I've been looking online and so far I've learned that italics may be used in place of quotation marks but I've also heard that either can become tiresome over the course of a 300 page+ novel. I'd like a few opinions on what is generally preferred.
Have you considered actually looking in novels to see what is used?
If you did, you'd probably find that thoughts are not given special punctuation in modern novels.

Bolt pretended not to see Melanie. He flexed his sleek masculine torso as he lay his towel on the sand. Hm, built well too, she mused. But what was she thinking?! This was the man who was so rude to her last night!

In 3rd person narratives from one character's viewpoint like this, and in 1st person writing, most of what happens is in the protagonist's thoughts.
If you read 3rd person omniscient novels with no particular character focus, you might find thoughts quoted - esp. Victorian and early C20 novels.


I also have a second part to this topic and that is paragraph structure of these thoughts. Should a new paragraph be started like in the case of dialogue or should thoughts flow in the paragraph naturally. It's really bothering me.
It depends on point of view, character focus, etc. It also depends on the writers style.
I really think you should open a few novels.
R.
 

Tybodger

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Thanks for the feedback. I actually have been skimming many novels lately for inspiration on this topic. Normally I avoid it as I feel it's kind of cheating but I've been so torn on how to approach it that I've had to look at a few books around the house. Unfortunately most of the books I have seem to avoid internal speech. The author will include thought but something along the line of; Travis had always thought cocker spaniels were ugly...
Rather than an internal speech format of Wow, that's an ugly dog, Travis thought. So I've had very little help in that department. Also I have a lot of very average grade material at hand unfortunately. Cheap horror and fantasy novels by the likes of Koontz and King and others who are entertaining but tend to prattle through bizarre dialogue rather than reflective thoughts. Could you recommend any sources that you think might be useful and what is your personal opinion regarding internal thoughts? How do you prefer these setions to look?
 

Tdol

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I think fixing rules and saying that thoughts should be expressed in a single way could lead to impoverished formulaic writing. Thoughts could be integrated or separated according to the needs of the narrative and could vary within the text. Using italics can be effective- in a thriller, where people want to read fast, it can make the reading easier, but it could be highly irritating in other texts where the boundaries between the external and internal worlds of the story are blurred.
 

TheParser

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***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good morning, Tybodger.

(1) What a coincidence! I recently read a sentence in a magazine article that was

so unusual that I immediately copied it for my notes. I am so happy to share it with

you:

"He thought, This music is more fun."

Have a nice day.
 
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