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Punctuating Character Thoughts
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Sephonae



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 5218
Location: New York
Punctuating Character Thoughts  Reply with quote  

I've searched the web but there doesn't seem to be a consensus as to how a character's thoughts should be punctuated. Apparently, authors can do whatever they like, as long as they're consistent.

But is there a preferred method? Which is better?

EX.1
‘Although,’ she thought, as she made her way to the bathroom, ‘it really is my fault for being such a dumb-ass.’

OR

EX.2
Although, she thought, as she made her way to the bathroom, it really is my fault for being such a dumb-ass.

OR JUST

EX.3
Although, she thought, as she made her way to the bathroom, it really is my fault for being such a dumb-ass.

Question
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Post Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:11 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
zendao42



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 13570
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 Reply with quote  

I'd probably say:

She made her way to the bathroom, thinking, "It really is my fault for being such a dumb-ass."

But that's just me-
I have a bad habit of editing whatever I'm reading if my mind starts wander, not that it happens much... Wink

Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:58 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
mllefifi



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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I like the italics version best. Then, if the character thinks a certain word with extra emphasis, it can be underlined or put in boldface in addition to italics.
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Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 4:04 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
knikkki



Joined: 13 Jun 2005
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I used the 'single' quote mark. It's what I've seen most of in reading.

I think the Italics are confusing.
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Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:16 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
mllefifi



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A potential problem with using single quote-marks for thoughts is that those used in British editions to enclose regular speech (or so my meager experience indicates). A different type-face would make thoughts clearly distinct from speech, IMHO. Very Happy
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Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:27 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Ginjg



Joined: 04 Sep 2004
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 Reply with quote  

instead of different typeface use 80% opacity. That really implies the soto voce feel of thought Wink
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Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:30 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Sephonae



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 5218
Location: New York
 Reply with quote  

Thanks for chiming in, everybody.

I've mostly used the single quote for thoughts and italics to emphasize a word in a phrase. I kind of like italics for thoughts 'cause, as Feef said, the different type really is quite distinct, but then perhaps I'd have to use something different to emphasize particular words?

Ginjg, I like that idea! But how would one indicate that in a manuscript?
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Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 7:41 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Watching The Wheels



Joined: 22 Dec 2007
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Location: DC
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mllefifi wrote:
A potential problem with using single quote-marks for thoughts is that those used in British editions to enclose regular speech (or so my meager experience indicates). A different type-face would make thoughts clearly distinct from speech, IMHO. Very Happy

Tom Holt uses the single quote-marks for speech and it freaks me out.


I like the italics for thoughts, myself. You could always capitalize every letter to emphasize certain italicized words.
I tend to use *asterisks* for web speak, but I don't know if that would fly for a manuscript.
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Post Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:31 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
zendao42



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
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If I remember right, Irvine Welsh uses dashes to indicate dialogue-
works after you get used to it...

Post Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:40 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
mllefifi



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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zendao42 wrote:
If I remember right, Irvine Welsh uses dashes to indicate dialogue-
works after you get used to it...

That's standard in Russian-language fiction.
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Post Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:53 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Sephonae



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
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Location: New York
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mllefifi wrote:
zendao42 wrote:
If I remember right, Irvine Welsh uses dashes to indicate dialogue-
works after you get used to it...

That's standard in Russian-language fiction.


Portuguese, too.

I should follow in the footsteps of Portuguese author Jose Saramago, who sometime dispenses with punctuation altogether. Talk about your run-on sentences, whew!
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<=== Dressing in dismal chic and maintaining her detached aura of aristocratic chill since 1985.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"You can't wipe your ass with empty promises." - thread title, by walk

Post Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:05 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
tirusthevirus



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 58
Location: Canada
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I tend to like the no-italics, no single-quotation mark idea. Becomes pretty obvious that it's thought, given the context. eg: Suzy decided to walk downstairs without touching the carpet. Hours later, she lay in the hospital bed, bandaged and casted from head to toe. As her friends and family came to bring her flowers and spoon feed her apple sauce, Suzy lay in bed with her thoughts. It's my own fault! Why am I such a dumbass?
Think it's pretty obvious which parts of the dialogue are thoughts. I tend to dispense of quotation marks and italics altogether, but that may not work in some situations. If the single quotation mark is working for you, then maybe that works best for your writing.
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Post Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:35 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
J.B.Chamberlin



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 52
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Sephonae wrote:
Thanks for chiming in, everybody.

I've mostly used the single quote for thoughts and italics to emphasize a word in a phrase. I kind of like italics for thoughts 'cause, as Feef said, the different type really is quite distinct, but then perhaps I'd have to use something different to emphasize particular words?

Ginjg, I like that idea! But how would one indicate that in a manuscript?


I'd say do whay you want and let the editor take care of the rest.

--JBC

Post Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:42 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
urhangovergirl



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 705
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tirusthevirus wrote:
I tend to like the no-italics, no single-quotation mark idea. Becomes pretty obvious that it's thought, given the context. eg: Suzy decided to walk downstairs without touching the carpet. Hours later, she lay in the hospital bed, bandaged and casted from head to toe. As her friends and family came to bring her flowers and spoon feed her apple sauce, Suzy lay in bed with her thoughts. It's my own fault! Why am I such a dumbass?
Think it's pretty obvious which parts of the dialogue are thoughts. I tend to dispense of quotation marks and italics altogether, but that may not work in some situations. If the single quotation mark is working for you, then maybe that works best for your writing.


That's the way chuck palahniuk does it, and I've always enjoyed it. But I'm not sure that will work if you are using the third person.

I do like italicized too, and that's how I tend to write it. But I can't do thought splicing. that gets to me. I tend to do more like...

Although, it really is my fault for being such a dumb-ass.

She walked to the bathroom, lost in thought...
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Post Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:16 am   View user's profile Send private message
chris
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Chicago Manual of Style says use quotes for direct thoughts. The problem then rises that you have to use an attributive. (She thought.) If you don't have too many, I'd use italics, and only when we are actually hearing a direct thought, and only if it's not in first person narrative. I would not use single quotes. As many point out, that's a British mechanism and most Americans don't know what to do with it.

When in doubt, always defer to The Chicago Manual of Style. You can break the rules, of course, but until you have the book sold, you'll want to try to stay as close to the rules as possible. My punctuation would be considered "abstract expressionism", but I can get away with that. No editor is going to stop reading my stuff because I misplaced a quote. You may not have that luxury yet.

Post Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:36 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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