One of the most widely debated points of dialogue is what the hell do we do with thoughts? Should I just italicise them? Should I put them in quotations? Should I just use single quotations?
At the end of the day the answer comes down to your personal style.
The winter semester before I graduated, I took a required non-fiction writing workshop class. As part of our final project, we had to submit one of the stories we’d worked on in class to workshop with the class. One of the common critiques for my piece was that they wanted all my thoughts in quotations. I had all of my thoughts in Italics.
I personally disagreed with this and ignored that critique. Why?
I recently started thinking about my motivations for doing this as I’ve been crawling along in my fan fic that I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo. I have instances in the story where I sometimes have characters think something immediately after they realised they probably shouldn’t have said something. I began questioning why I use italics for thoughts in my stories. I’ve come to the almost satisfactory conclusion that for me it is a visual separation from the character’s spoken voice and the narrator’s voice.
Other people argue that thought is a form dialogue, only it’s internal, therefore, it should be in quotes. After all, the ‘thought’ tag exists for a reason doesn’t it? My only problem with this is when I’m using first person (which is rare if it’s not non-fiction) or if I’m using multiple point of views to betray certain character’s thoughts throughout the story, this not only gets repetitive, but it begins to become bland. Then that sultry temptress, the thesaurus, starts beckoning for creative alternatives to ‘thought’ so that the dialogue tag does not become another dull tag like ‘said’ or ‘asked’ or any of those other generic, all purpose dialogue tags writers are so dependent on to convey meaning in conversation.
However you decide to punctuate your character’s thoughts, just remember to pick one way and use it consistently
How do you show thought in your stories?