Ron’s Lit Tip 09 03 20

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Today’s Issue: Inner Thoughts

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

I often advise writers to use italics when allowing readers to ‘hear’ a character’s Inner Thoughts. And I do so again.

But what is so important about Inner Thoughts?

Glad you asked.

Inner Thoughts are the same as thinking. We humans are always thinking and whether or not your characters thinking shows up in a book their actions are the result of and reveal to some extent their thoughts. Sometimes letting the actions depict a character’s thoughts is the best route, but there are times when the reader needs to ‘hear’ those thoughts.

All the Characters?

No. Not even most of the characters. At the very least the reader needs to be able to understand and identify with the primary character. You want the hero or heroine to be as real as possible. This helps the reader identify with the character, maybe sympathize, or even approve of both the thinking and the resulting action.

I’m Still Confused.

You want the primary and maybe a few other leading characters to be real, not two dimensional. Broadcasting the character’s thoughts brings another dimension and can play a pivotal role in the overall story.

Sometimes when a character is facing a problem it can be worked out in thoughts. Instead of you the narrator telling the reader what he or she thought, you allow the character’s thoughts to be heard. The reader gets additional facts right from the character rather than the author.

That can be powerful!

So, why don’t all authors do that?

This may be hard to believe, but it’s possible they disagree with me. It is also possible that they simply never thought of it as being important. Usually such authors endeavor to inform the reader of the thoughts and think that is enough. But consider the following:

Jim’s story wasn’t believed by Detective Adams.

Or

As Jim related his story, Detective Adams thought, There’s something wrong here. This just doesn’t make sense.

You decide which is more powerful.

I see your point, but why the italics?

Technically, there is no law that says you must use italics to indicate thinking. But I contend that if you use quotes (“”) a reader might think the character is talking out loud or if you use an underline (__) a reader my just think it is being emphasized but not really thinking. In both cases the reader may miss the idea of thinking.

Another thing to consider is that in the above example where the detective’s thoughts were shown it got more of the story such as time (as Jim related) and why the detective didn’t believe it (something wrong, and doesn’t make sense). If you were also hearing Jim’s story for the first time, the detective’s thoughts alert you, the reader, to a multitude of possibilities and might cause you to reread Jim’s story.

Oh, in other words, the reader will also wonder.

Yes. And look for clues to solve the mystery. That is just one example of how I believe a character’s thoughts can influence the surrounding scene and, possibly, the entire story.

Tip: Use a primary character’s thoughts to help tell the story.

Tip: Consider using italics to indicate thoughts.

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. #Writingservices

Ron’s Tip of the Day The Right Mixture #5

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at The Right Mixture #5.

In my last 4 blogs I talked about readers’ imagination, including Immerse Yourself in the character, Backstory, Making it Real, and Research. Today we move to Thinking.

Thinking?

Yes. To be more precise, I am talking about your primary character(s) thinking. I love prose and try to use it. But the fact is that seeing the world through the eyes of a character is a very powerful tool.

Allowing the reader inside the character’s head gives the reader a view of the world that the reader may not have seen otherwise. In simple prose, the reader sees the world as perceived by the author. But the thoughts of a character can convey the same information better than prose.

Use Balance.

That said, there is a time for prose and a time for thinking. I use both. Balance is necessary because it adds substance and color to the scene. Both are useful tools.

How do you show people thinking?

Example: Janet thought, This painting sure looks like the real thing.

There is no law about this, but I support the concept of using italics to show thinking. Whatever you use must be consistent. I use italics and I tend to think it is the preferred method as it looks good and more and more authors are using that method.  

Tip of the Day: Show thinking; and try using italics to do so.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Ron’s Tip of the Day Character’s Thoughts

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Today I am looking at Character’s Thoughts.

In today’s blog I am discussing how to make use of your character’s thoughts in your book. There is more than one way to do this, but I prefer using italics to indicate thoughts. Let’s take a look.

Here is a sample.

Henry thought to himself that to cross the river would be too difficult.

While some would accept that method, it is really the narrator telling you what Henry thought. But when I use thoughts, I want the readers to feel like they are actually listening into Henry’s thoughts. Something like this:

Henry stared at the river. This is going to be more difficult than I imagined!

By doing it this way I conveyed several bits of information. For example, you could gather that Henry had been thinking about this crossing for a while, plus he already had determined it would be a difficult crossing. But seeing it up close made him realize he’d underestimated the difficulty. All of these are possible depending on context.

When you access a person’s thoughts and listen to that person, you gain more information than a narrator could provide in the same amount of text. It only took one sentence for you to hear the character. But it took three sentences for me to describe what you might have discerned.

You can use this technique for one or for more characters. However, be very careful about using multiple characters at the same time. It’s okay to use different characters over time, but it can be problematic in the same scene.

Tip of the Day : Use italics to indicate thoughts

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition, he is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.