One More Dialogue Thing

How do I write a POV character’s thoughts vs. interior dialogue? This dialogue question arises time after time. Writers get confused on interior dialogue and its mechanics compared to those of an interior thought.
Writing Tip for Today:
Interior Thought

In general, no quotation marks or italics are neccessary to note a POV character’s thoughts. They should be written as narrative.
Although I still read, “She thought,” it’s becoming less common. For me, adding she thought is the same as saying “she saw” or “she heard.” All these actions, including thoughts, are (IMHO)best rendered so that there is no filtering of consciousness. That is, when you think, see or hear something, you rarely tell yourself you are thinking, seeing or hearing. If the reader is in the protagonist’s or narrating character’s view point, the same kind of directness aids in “being the character.” Filtering pulls back the camera.
Interior Dialogue
Set interior dialogue apart by using italics.
The difference between interior dialogue and interior thought is that the interior dialogue is unspoken (thus, no quotation marks) yet the character is having a conversation with herself. This is distinct from a random thought in that it is addressed to self (using “I” or “you,” not he or she) and often in present tense. Interior Dialogue can be set apart with italics. That way, the reader knows the character isn’t only thinking but talking to oneself. Hey, I talk to myself. You got a problem with that?
A note about interior dialogue: Interior dialogue is essentially a monologue. If forced to hold a one-sided conversation too long or too often, the reader may feel the author’s hot breath upon them–the author was too lazy or unskilled to show the reader what was happening or relay information except through a cheesy interior dialogue. That’s a trap you don’t want to fall prey to. Use interior dialogue sparingly, especially in the beginning where your reader is still learning about the character and the story.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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