Thoughts & speech In The same Paragraph

Discussion in 'General Writing Discussion' started by The Bloated One, Sep 25, 2011.

  1.  
    The Bloated One

    The Bloated One New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    409
    Hi everyone,

    Problem - How to show a character's thoughts during his speech. The convention I use is to put them in italics. See the red text below. But, is this correct?

    “Professor Patrick. . .Professor Patrick Pending!” exclaimed Tarquin, “he’ll be able to read it!”
    “Pat Pend. . ?“
    “You know, your great friend and historian.” Tarquin looked pleadingly at Jeremiah. “Thin, flash of white hair, rides a-” He stopped in mid sentence. Bicycles didn’t exist in 15th century England!
    He coughed loudly and continued, “Rides a horse.“ Jeremiah stood and gawped.
    “Great, that’s done then!” said Tarquin loudly, stretching out his hand for the journal.

    Or, should I consider rewriting the piece?

    TBO
  2.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Yes, thoughts in italics like you've got is absolutely fine. It's obvious it's a thought. :)
  3.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    5,791
    Yes, italics are fine for thoughts, even in the middle of dialogue, though as written I wouldn't have bothered in this case -- it's a kind of narrative thinking which doesn't need italics. But if it is direct thought, requiring italics, I'm worried the tense here is wrong. If they are at present, ie at the time they are talking, in 15th century England, it should be Bicycles don’t exist in 15th century England! because he's thinking it to himself there and then.

    Erm... do you mind if I correct a mistake, and point out something else? (Rhetorical question since I'm going to, anyway... :p)

    Professor Patrick Pending!” exclaimed Tarquin.He’ll be able to read it!”
    Full stop and capital -- the last thing he said ended with an exclamation mark which closed the sentence as far as his speech was concerned. (The lower case for "exclaimed" is right, of course.)

    And the "Jeremiah stood and gawped." line, I think is better off in a paragraph of its own, so as to avoid confusion.

    (Sorry. Once a nit-picker, always a nit-picker... :eek:)


    EDIT: Whoops! Just seen this is in Workshop. Will move it over to GWD.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  4.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,612
    As said, italics are fine for this; you don't even need to do that, as you can simply add "he thought" or "he thought to himself" or whatever other appropriate phrase. You don't even need to go that far. Moorcock used such indicators as parentheses and italics to show not only that particular character's thoughts, but those of others they were picking up in Mother London. Granted, it's a bit confusing at first, but one quickly realizes what is going on is a form of telepathy (or a rather specific sort of empathic relationship) among a select group of people there; simple thoughts of a single character can also be designated using various techniques which set them off from the flow of their speech. Try different things to see which is most appropriate for the effect you wish to achieve....
  5.  
    Yog-Sothoth

    Yog-Sothoth Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Messages:
    256
    The Judge, since the character isn't present in "15th century England", wouldn't "didn't"(as in the past) fit the sentence better than "don't"?(which gives the impression that the character has traveled back to the time-period, and remembers that bicycles are absent in this era)
  6.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    5,791
    Yog -- I know TBO's characters do time-travel, which is why I'm not sure if they are back in 15th century England or not in this scene, though the tone of it certainly suggested they were to me. If they are, then I would prefer "don't" if it's direct thoughts. If they're not, then yes, it's "didn't". Which is why I qualified my first post with "If".
  7.  
    The Bloated One

    The Bloated One New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    409
    Sorry everyone, they are in 15th century England when this conversation takes place.

    Judge, fine by me; every little helps!

    TBO

Share This Page