I’d Like Your Opinion

Picture 1When a character in one of my books has a thought during a scene, I simply specify that they have a thought. A number of editors have told me the current literary method of indicating thought is to use italics. Personally, I dislike italicized sentences running throughout my stories and think they disrupt the visual presentation. So I would like your opinion.

Let me give two examples:

  1. John turned away in disgust. You’ve got to be kidding, he thought as he walked away, that I even care about your opinion.
  2. John turned away in disgust. You’ve got to be kidding, he thought as he walked away, that I even care about your opinion.

As you can see, I used italics in the second example. And while the italicized words can certainly identify when a character goes into thought mode, think about how many times this would occur in a book. I know as a writer that I use character thoughts throughout my stories to convey their inner feelings. But after a hundred or so pages, I believe the repetition of italics would get monotonous and, therefore, have chosen not to use the technique. I do, however, certainly indicate when a character has a thought by stating so — as I did in the above examples — or the words I use are indicative of a person thinking.

The same editors have told me that I present character thoughts very well, but still suggest that I use the accepted method of italics nonetheless. So what do you think? Do you like reading books with italicized thoughts, or are you comfortable in determining if a character is thinking?

Now in defense of using italics, I have used them in a couple of manuscripts that I’ve written, but still not to indicate thoughts. One was a story I wrote using the first person point of view. However, in order to present the story as I felt was necessary, on a few occasions I changed POV from first person to third person, using italics to indicate the shift. The second manuscript that I use italics was to indicate when a character would go into telepathic mode and converse without speaking. The editors haven’t reviewed either of those manuscripts yet, and I wonder if they’ll tell me that I’ve incorrectly used another literary norm.

What I believe is authors are to some extent artists, and adopt a writing style they like. The style that I’ve picked in presenting my written words is driven by visual presentation. But if that doesn’t work for readers, then I would like to know. So, please, tell me what you think?

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