Friday, June 12, 2009

My Inner Thoughts

I mentioned the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers in yesterday's post. As I go through it, several thoughts jump out at me and grab me by the throat. Then I think--why didn't someone tell me this earlier on?

I'm talking about Inner Monologue. I knew one should never put quotes around the thoughts. Learned that long ago. But I still resorted to italicizing the character's thoughts. (like that) Well, the authors say:

Unless yo are deliberately writing with narrative distance, there is no reason to cast your interior monologue into first person.Cast the interior monologue into the thirdt person too.

EX. Had I meant to kill her? he thought.
Had he meant to kill her?
Also--he goes on to say, frequent italics signal weak writing. So you should never resort to them unless they are the only practical choice.

WEAK writing!! Ugh!! I thought back to the manuscripts I already finished and sent in with some italics and doing the I thought, she thought stuff! Ugh again.

Here's my moral to the story--read books on writing --all the time. I read some a few years ago but evidentially not enough and not the right ones. At least on fiction because I figured how hard could it be?

I eat my words. Writing fiction is hard. Thank goodness there are others out there who know what they are doing.


Jessica said...

Hmmmm, I'm not sure I use italics that much. I'll remember not to now. LOL
Thanks for sharing!

Warren Baldwin said...

Thanks for the tip. I'm learning from you writers!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Hi, Terri:

I love italics--but minimally used. In all the LI's I read, there is minimal italics. The author chooses carefully which thoughts to highlight with italics, though. And never ever is there an attribution added on like, "he thought", that's understood from the italics.

Silent prayers are often italicized for emphasis, but they're kept really short.

Self-Editing is a great book. It's one of the top writer's guide books that I have. And I have many, many! I'd study the books currently most like yours to get a feel for what the publishers are accepting and printing and use that as a guide along with all the writing-guide-book rules so as not to get too rule-driven.

That's my two cents worth, Terri. I could be totall wrong, though.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Have you read Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel book & workbook yet? [Warning: Will cause lots of extra work to be done on the ms.] :)

Lin said...

thanks for a good reminder. I use too many italics.

Greg C said...

I can see that I need to get some books on writing for beginners. My head is always full of ideas but I usually have a hard time getting them down on paper. There is a missing link there somewhere.

Kristen Painter said...

I think you need a better critique group, frankly.

Wendy said...

Hi Terri,

Great insight. Must admit I'm a little ??? by last comment.
~ Wendy

jinksy said...

Was the word 'write' instead of 'right' a spot the deliberate mistake in the 6th paragraph? (Had to find a way to put in some ''s in this!)

Jody Hedlund said...

So true! I'm definitely planning to read a few more craft books before starting my next book. We always have something new we need to learn or just need to be reminded!

Julie Gillies said...

Interesting. I'm reading "Redeemed" by Heather King and she uses italics galore. She's expressive and to me all the extras are part of it.

I tend to write (even e-mails) with lots of doo-dads like italics, parenthesis (did I spell that right? there needs to be spell check in the comments section. LOL) as well. I guess I'm an animated communicator.

At any rate, I'm grateful for all the helpful books out there, as well. (And the good blogs! *wink*)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Italics still confuse me. Teachers waggle their pointer finger and say, "No, no, no," but I come across them in books all the time.

To italic or not to italic: that is the question.

Susan :)

Anonymous said...

It's so very confusing. I read all the time on the craft of writing. But sometimes I find that books contradict each other. Oh well, I just keep reading on. Eventually we'll all figure it

Andrea said...

Thank you for your continued tips for writing.
Blessings on your journey, andrea

Cindy said...

You're right, fiction writing IS hard! I am glad you shared this post because I've been thinking about this a lot with my manuscript. On the one I'm revising, I do a bit of both. First person italics and third person thoughts but I never knew which was preferred. This helps, thanks!

Melissa Marsh said...

It's a constant learning process, I think. Sometimes it's rather daunting!

Kara said...

We spent so much time in one of my writing classes on thoughts and italics and I still have trouble with them.
I think I need to go get that book!

Chelle Sandell said...

I've been warned not to spend too much time reading a ton of "how-to" books. Of course it never hurts to keep learning and working on our skills...but I've heard several editors mention reading current pubbed books within the line or pub you are targeting. Break them down and pay attention to the structure they use.

Carmen said...

I was surprised about all the rules I came across in the little course I took. I thought I could just write and it would all be good. NOT! Oh and learn. =)

Rose Mary said...

I think that is great advice. Using too many italics is easy to do. I know I get carried away with them sometimes and have to come back and re-write. I have read books, though, that do italicize thoughts, so I guess it just depends on the editor.

Jan Cline said...

I read that too and am still confused. It doesnt seem right to write them in 3rd. It's harder and I think the reader would rather have it distinguished, but Im no editor. Thank goodness I am learning this before my MS is finished. Just have to go back through 10 chapters and fix it! Oh well, I may just leave them too.

AnooCre8ion said...

Hi Terri, just stopping by to say keep the good work up. Doing a great job.


BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

I find that trends seem to change so much in writing. Everyone says not to use -ly words or -ing words but I see them in popular books. The same applies to italics. Where do you think so many got the idea to use them? Other popular books. One other rule that has changed in some circles is whether or not to allow two spaces after each sentence. The reason it used to be done is because of the spacing used by old typewriters. Now that we have electronic font, some feel it's not necessary. Trends change faster than we can change our socks. With this in mind, how do we know which trends to follow? (Just a thought-not italicized, LOL.) I'm guessing I will have to rely on my editor for that.

sarah said...

Your tips are great. Your own honesty in your writing journey is awesome. Sarah

Sassy Granny ... said...

OK, so now you may have to write a book that compiles the best-of-the-best of all those books you've read. One stop wisdom for writing!

Brenda Leyland said...

Terri, I always enjoy my visits to your site.

Have to agree totally with you about the importance of reading books on writing.

I find reading such books more than once helpful, because I've found, as I grow and develop, the information someone shares suddenly becomes clearer and more meaningful each time I read it. It's like the "Aha" light bulb turns on.

To me, the first time we hear a new idea that's when the 'seed' of change is planted. Then comes the germination, seedling, and maturing growth stages. Every time we read and re-read we're watering our seeds.

And then one day, we think, wow, how come I never saw that before? That's because our seedlings grew up.

Can I share a few of my most favourite writing books so far:

The Right to Write
by Julia Cameron

If You Want to Write
by Brenda Ueland

Write it Down, Make It Happen
by Henriette Anne Klauser

Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

A Writer's Workbook
by Caroline Sharp

And... May I share the two books I just found at the library. I'm still reading them, but I'm enjoying them, so they may get added to the list of favourites too!

The Writer's Home Companion, An Anthology of the World's Best Writing Advice, from Keats to Kunitz
Edited by Joan Bolker

Reading Like a Writer, A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them
by Francine Prose

There's my two cents worth for the day. Cheers to you, Terri. Happy writing!

Kathryn Magendie said...

If a writer convinces her audience, she can do just about anything - know the rules so you can break them in a convincing way -- once you "know the rules" it's fun to manipulate....

have fun with your writing, be sincere, be true, be fearless....