Writing character thoughts

Writing character thoughts” by Thomas Hollyday

The issue often comes up concerning how to write the inner thoughts of a character as action and normal dialogue takes place in the narrative.
Laura Carr in her essay in Writing.com ”How to write the thoughts of a character” counsels the author to forget the the unnecessary tags like “he thought”, the separate quotation marks, and the tense switches. She claims with good reasoning that these gimmicks only interrupt the flow of the story.
However, K.M. Weiland argues in helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com 2/5/2011, the key to good writing is to tell about these thoughts, she refers to as the inner narrative. She advises to show the thoughts by the character’s language and vision, and incorporate this into the story.
So, instead of writing “He thought¸ ’This is great ice cream.’ ” Write “He smacked his lips as he enjoyed the cone.”
Good enough. However, what is a thought? First of all, there is a difference between a thought and a feeling. Feelings are more sensory, developed from touch, hearing, seeing and so forth. Thoughts are developed from intelligence. See Clint Gallozzi in personal-development.com, February 9, 2011 where he discusses which comes first, feeling or thoughts. Feelings, he says are sensory or emotionsal. What comes first is “a stimulus, which then evokes a feeling or thought.”
Examples are the following: “We hurt our knee against a chair which makes us angry and we think of kicking the chair” Another one is the following: “Charlie walks into the room and smells cigarette smoke with a sudden feeling of nausea. He see his arch enemy across the room smoking. He says, ”You bastard! You’re not supposed to smoke in here.” Note that in both of these examples, the issue of inner narration and character thoughts has been described without special quotes, tense changes, or italics. The story flow had not been interrupted in any way.

2 thoughts on “Writing character thoughts

  1. Pingback: Writing character thoughts | Water for Wildlife and Pets Blog

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