Tumblr is where tens of millions of creative people around the world share and follow the things they love.Sign up to find more cool stuff to follow
Writing What Your Character Thinks
An anon asked me how to write what your character is thinking, and I’ve seen it happen in different ways: using italics, parenthesis, quotation marks… all to let readers know “this is going through the character’s mind!”
I wouldn’t recommend any of those , they don’t feel right and I think they, when used, break the flow. The best way to render character thought:
… will fit in seamlessly with the other story elements, as they combine into the greater whole of the story;
… will do nothing to disrupt, or distract from the story.
- Get rid of unecessary tags (“he thought” “he wondered” “he thought to himself” who else would he be thinking to?).
- No quotation marks. Or italics. Or anything that breaks the flow.
- Don’t switch the tense. It doesn’t do you any favors.
So, what have we learned?
I’m gonna give you two (rough) examples.
Paul looked around at his surroundings. “I can’t deal with this anymore. I need to leave.” Paul thought to himself. He started packing his few belongings. “It’s time for something new,” He thought.
Get rid of the quotation marks, the tags, and it’ll look like this.
Paul looked around at his surroundings. He couldn’t deal with what was happening anymore, he needed to leave. He packed his few belongings. It was time for something new.
See? there’s not a huge sign yelling “THIS IS INNER DIALOGUE!” it’s just sort of… happening. It’s blending with the story. Your character is thinking without breaking the flow. It’s very simple.