Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#1
      Okay, so I'm new to writing. The book I'm working on will be my first major approach to writing a significant work. I'm writing the novel in 3rd person limited and I'm having trouble sorting out the dialog and thoughts of the character(s). I feel there has to be a better option than sticking "he thought", "he concluded", "he surmised" at the end or having the dialog happen in a paragraph.  I'm experimenting with having the thoughts italicized on their own line but then I don't know how to fit the dialog in without also giving it its own line, leading to a conversation taking up multiple pages. Any help would be greatly appreciated!   

Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#2
I'm aware of three common methods to handle internal monologue.

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#1: Don't have any. For this option, just include the PoV character's thoughts as part of the narrative. Most of their thoughts will be part of the narrative anyway, so this one isn't a big change.

When Fred checked his wallet, the lottery ticket was gone. How in the world was he going to explain that?


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#2: Treat it like dialogue, but italicized rather than quoted. I feel this one works best when you use internal monologue rarely, and the reader might need a prompt to remember why a sentence is italicized.

When Fred checked his wallet, the lottery ticket was gone. How am I going to explain this? he thought to himself.


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#3: Italicized like #2, but without the dialogue tags. I feel this one works better if you have more frequent internal monologue.

When Fred checked his wallet, the lottery ticket was gone.

How am I going to explain this?


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Whatever option you choose, don't go overboard with internal monologue. Most of the PoV character's thoughts should be relayed as part of the narrative instead. Only include internal monologue when you feel something is truly relayed better that way.

Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#3

Quote:
IvyVeritas Wrote: #3: Italicized like #2, but without the dialogue tags. I feel this one works better if you have more frequent internal monologue.

When Fred checked his wallet, the lottery ticket was gone.

How am I going to explain this?


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This is more in line with what I'm trying to do, but I'm completely stuck when there's an internal monologue in the middle of a conversation. I'm probably overdoing it and I will likely have to reduce the number of them. Thank you very much for your help! 

Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#4

Tylan233 Wrote:
Quote:
IvyVeritas Wrote: #3: Italicized like #2, but without the dialogue tags. I feel this one works better if you have more frequent internal monologue.

When Fred checked his wallet, the lottery ticket was gone.

How am I going to explain this?


==========



This is more in line with what I'm trying to do, but I'm completely stuck when there's an internal monologue in the middle of a conversation. I'm probably overdoing it and I will likely have to reduce the number of them. Thank you very much for your help!



Yeah, internal monologue in the middle of a conversation should be rare. Try changing it to be part of the narrative, or deciding whether it's necessary at all.

Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#5

Tylan233 Wrote: I'm probably overdoing it and I will likely have to reduce the number of them. Thank you very much for your help!

You are experiencing a growing pain of all authors -- what to include in your story and what to leave out. Some of us go overboard with excessive detail, others with too many adjectives and adverbs. Some people write in a voice so passive that their word count could be cut in half if they used a more active voice. Others string together massive sentences full of commas and conjunctions and prepositional phrases, so many that it seems like they'll never get around to posting another full stop.


I have found it good advice to point out from time to time -- to both myself and to others who are struggling -- that ninety percent of your story will never see the light of day. It will exist only for you, and only in your head. Perhaps a bit of it will also be in the notes that you keep, to help you keep track of your characters and to remember what it is that motivates them.

And that's what the internal dialogue of your characters should be -- something you keep to yourself, that motivates you to flesh them out and give them life. No one in the real world knows what another person is thinking, and some people scarcely even know what it is they are thinking themselves. But one thing we all know for sure that helps us understand a person better is watching what they do and how they do it, and listening to what they say and how they say it.

Spelling out word-for-word the internal thoughts of a character is a classic example of TELLING your story and not SHOWING it. Now sometimes, telling a story is good --for hum drum boring details or for a quick break between scenes, or a dramatic way to end a chapter.

But for the rest of your story, you should be showing your readers what your characters are thinking... and not telling them what it is, word for word.

❤🦆😸❤

Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#6
I've seen published novels that don't italicize thoughts.

The author simply writes what a character is thinking, followed by "he/she thought." I've even seen entire paragraphs of just the character's thoughts written out like dialogue (except without quotation marks), and they can actually be more immersive when they're not italicized. But I think it's a matter of preference, so as long as you don't switch formats halfway through the story, I think you'll be fine.

Re: I need advice for dialog/character thoughts and formating

#7

ArDeeBurger Wrote:
Tylan233 Wrote: I'm probably overdoing it and I will likely have to reduce the number of them. Thank you very much for your help!

You are experiencing a growing pain of all authors -- what to include in your story and what to leave out. Some of us go overboard with excessive detail, others with too many adjectives and adverbs. Some people write in a voice so passive that their word count could be cut in half if they used a more active voice. Others string together massive sentences full of commas and conjunctions and prepositional phrases, so many that it seems like they'll never get around to posting another full stop.


Just to add a few stray thoughts about things of which you've reminded me:

1. Regarding those long-winded sentences that make it hard to keep track of who's doing what: I once read an essay about writing which quoted a humorous line from somewhere else in order to illustrate a point about the advisability of keeping a tight focus on one subject at a time so that the poor reader doesn't lose track of who's doing what!

The sample of the wrong way to have multiple things happening in the same sentence went something like this:

The wind blew across the desert where the corpse lay and whistled.

The author's point was that since "the corpse" is the last noun mentioned in that sentence, just a few words before the word "whistled," there is a natural tendency for a reader to assume that the corpse is the thing which we should visualize as whistling as it lays there in the desert. By the time we reach the last word of that sentence, it feels as if it's been a long time since "the wind" was briefly mentioned in the first two words of the same sentence, and so the reader has more-or-less "forgotten" that the wind is, in theory, the subject of the entire sentence, and that it might still have some further actions to perform after we get done reading about its passing over the corpse. 

In other words, either "blew" and "whistled" should have been placed much closer together, to make it clear that the wind was performing both of those verbs -- or else one of them (probably "whistled") should have been cut out of the sentence entirely. If a whistling noise needed to be mentioned at all, it could have been done in a separate paragraph, later in the scene, where it wouldn't confuse the issue. 

2. Somewhere else, I once read an interesting piece of advice for developing our own writing styles. The suggestion was: After you've written a fair amount of material, and can gauge your own current style, try to deliberately shake it up with something entirely different for a change of pace.

For instance, if you normally favor a style with lots of fast-paced action, and very little introspection on the part of a viewpoint character, trying letting the protagonist brood silently about the implications of one thing or another for a few paragraphs at a time. On the other hand, if you normally use lots of flowery descriptive passages, with plenty of adjectives and adverbs, try trimming out as much of that as possible to keep your story moving along at a brisk pace. And there are other things you could change back and forth -- the idea is to flex your mental muscles, and perhaps decide that there are, in fact, some "lasting changes" you want to make in your "normal" writing style from now on.