How to Write Thoughts – Character`s Inner Dialogue or Piece of Art
The inner dialogue is just the character’s speech to his or herself. The reader hears that like the character. However, other characters do not have a clue about what happens in the character’s head.
It is similar to our thoughts and us. Meaning, no one will get to know what we are thinking about unless we tell it ourselves. No one hears our thoughts uncensored even if we reveal them. For instance, an abusive parent may dump every idea of a child, or lovers might share the things they are thinking of. However, in most cases, females and males do not share every single thought they have. They will be talking non-stop if they do.
Besides, they will open up intimate things. The vast majority of people do not tell others in full what they are thinking about. If they do, they will look with no protection, naked, and vulnerable.
Nevertheless, if it is about characters, we tend to listen to it. We hear both active and passive thoughts. For instance, we might hear the stream of consciousness or a deliberate dialogue (when a character talk about themselves out and into certain actions).
Inner dialogue and thought provide the reader with the insight he or she cannot get from viewing the actions of the character from the outside.
Thought and inner dialogue reveal the truth. Both of them reveal darkness. They reveal resignation or dreams, or hope.
They reveal beliefs or emotions that are too painful to be spread with others.
The heart is revealed with them as well as the despair of the soul. Besides, they reveal the spirit’s strength.
Inner dialogue and thought can be utilized to raise the scene’s emotional level. For example, we might feel the love of the mother who comforts her child, telling that everything will be okay, but her inner thoughts might tell the opposite things, revealing the true feelings of her. Meaning, she tries to protect her child from the painful truth.
Thoughts of a character can make a scene lighter. A man who is holding inappropriate humor or back sarcasm might show a blanc face to the characters. However, he might reveal his irreverence.
What else can the inner dialogue and thoughts do?
- They allow insight to the reader.
- They let the characters be differentiated.
- They provide the characters with an honest voice.
- They might reveal the motivation of the character.
- They might slow the scene’s pace.
- They might show the conflict of the character between the needs of others and his inner man.
So, what is the best way for the reader to convey the inner dialogue and thought of a character?
Firstly, the character is to be the point of view character for a scene. You will not need to deep into and out of each character’s head unless you are writing a totally omniscient point of view that is quite unusual today. You will not definitely do it within the same scene. For instance, do not get a dog’s thought when the couple fights, not unless the dog is a viewpoint character for a scene.
Besides, you will want to reveal inner dialogue and thoughts which advance the plot. We only need to hear good stuff, not everything. You might present random thoughts from time to time to establish what character is thinking about, but it will be better to skip these thoughts for the most part. Provide the reader with thoughts which have to bear on the plot and reveal the character. Choose the thoughts which will raise the emotional temperature for your reader.
To be more practical, try out anything of the following. Try to be selective. Option number 3 is to write thoughts without italics since it will make the least intrusive to read. It is the most appropriate choice for most genres and most of today’s writers. It would work for the many but might not be ideal for every set of circumstances, genre, or story. Especially, it is suitable for deep POV stories that are very intimate with a 3rd person viewpoint.
1. Utilize thought tags and italics
To indicate the character’s inner dialogue or thoughts, you can utilize italics for traditional 3rd person narration. The reader gets an unambiguous signal that what he or she is reading is inner dialogue or thought and not a spoken dialogue.
However, utilizing italics for the thoughts might produce a more significant narrative distance that will set the readers outside of certain events of a scene and character. Reading them, the reader might feel them self an outsider, not experiencing or hearing them for themselves. Use italics if you need or want such an effect to be created.
You will not need it if the narrator is treating the readers to thoughts in the same scene from the variety of characters.
A thought tag, without italics, might also meet your expectations and needs. If you pair thoughts with the thought tags (imagined, wondered, thoughts), it will be helpful to define the owner of a certain thought.
Do not write he or she thought to him or herself. The reader is aware that he does not think of someone else. Unless we are talking about sci-fi or paranormal.
2. Utilize italics with no dialogue tags
Do it when you have figured out who the point of view character is. Readers will get to know that the point of view character is the one that reveals their thoughts. It shortens the narrative distance; the reader feels they are closer to the events. He or she will not feel like an outsider, just reading the report of someone’s thoughts or observing events.
When you utilize the italics, the writer is allowed to treat the thoughts like the character speaks to himself or certain words are dialogue. We are able to utilize the present tense here. The writer might also utilize “me,” and “I,” “our,” and “we”, even in case the story is in 3rd person. You can do with inner dialogue anything you are able to do with spoken dialogue.
3. Do not utilize dialogue tags or italics
This option is the one to be used by most writers for most genres. It is used quite often, but not always. The shortest narrative distance is created. If you use deep POV in 3rd person narration or 1st person narration, you can eliminate the need for italics and the use of them. It is not necessary to utilize italics to emphasize the character’s dialogue or thoughts that are directed to a character from himself since the reader feels and knows that he is in the head of the character.
Every now and then, you can throw in the thought tag for thoughts that are not in italics if you think it is important. Probably, the particular rhythm or the effect you might need to generate will make your tag important. You can blend the thought in the surrounding text.
Note that in omniscient POV stories, the readers would need to make a difference between the thoughts of the character and the omniscient narrator. This is true, especially when you need to share both the multiple characters’ ideas and the narrator’s thoughts in a similar scene and when a narrator is opinionated.
For the 1st person POV, you will not need to define a character’s thoughts using the thought tag. Utilize italics for such thoughts much lesser. For instance, you may need to utilize the thought tags for the 1st person POV when you generate the character’s presence effect, reporting their thoughts to your reader like to the audience. Also, you will need it when you generate the narrative distance.
However, most of the 1st person narrator’s thoughts will blend into the surrounding text seamlessly.
When you use italics, your target reader is provided with a signal in order to alert the character to some inner thought. The visual signal is absent without italics. Readers would realize that they read the thoughts, but switch to present tense in these thoughts. Those thoughts are being pushed up against the PT (past tense) with the rest of certain actions. This might cause the reader to hesitate. To pull a reader from fiction, you will not want to do anything.
When you switch the verb tenses when you utilize italics, it is not obligatory, but recommended. There are several options. If you are able to make a good story by mixing the past tense with the present tense and do it with no need for visual italics, do it. Try something new if you want.
Note that such a practice will not be universally accepted or understood. You should realize that you might lose the reader. Also, your reader might begin to hesitate, wonder about the story’s mechanics, which is not welcome for you. So, help your reader.
We recommend switching tenses in inner dialogue or thought if you utilize italics to emphasize the thought.
If you use the 3rd person POV in thoughts that are written with no italics, you would better not use “our,” “we”, “me”, and “I”. If you do not utilize italics, your reader might think that you have switched from the 3rd to 1st person mid-paragraph. If it’s possible for you to make it work, try this option out.
Keep in mind:
Consider putting inner dialogue and thoughts into a new paragraph like it is spoken dialogue. However, you will not need to utilize such a technique all the time, and it is not required. The thoughts can share the paragraph with action like dialogue. Treat inner dialogue as if it is a spoken one. If you wish to generate a broader narrative distance, place each thought in some new paragraph. To narrow down the narrative distance, place the ideas in one paragraph.
Do not utilize quotation marks for thoughts. Don’t do it even if they are inner dialogue like the character that talks to himself. Use the quotation marks for vocalized speech. Make sure the readers can tell when the character talks aloud and when he speaks inside his head. Do it even if he or she is the only character.
Cut back all the distracting visuals like an unimportant quotation.
Remain consistent. Utilize a similar method to convey the inner dialogue and character thought on the final page as it is on the 1st page. Consistency makes the reader grounded and involved in fiction. Modifications in the method will just distract the reader.
How to write thoughts in the best way?
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