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Character Thought and How to Show Them

writing tips

By Amethyst ChampagnePublished 3 years ago Updated 8 months ago 3 min read
Character Thought and How to Show Them
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Hey, it’s me again, and this time, I’ll be discussing how to show character thoughts for fiction stories because, at some point, we all know you’ll have to write about what your characters are thinking.

And you might not know how to write those thoughts clearly and without disrupting the flow of your story. Which is why I’ve created this post.

So, let’s get to it!

Writing Character Thoughts

First, how do you usually write their direct thoughts? Italics? Bold? Quotation marks? Some other fashion? Most likely, your answer is yes to at least one of these.

Well, italics are the general default for relaying character monologues. You see them everywhere, whether the book is self-published or traditionally published.

While there’s nothing wrong with using them, if used to express your M.C.’s thoughts, italics can pull you from the flow of the story. And as an avid reader, I can express how annoying that is.

But what if I said there was a less jarring way to do it?

Happy to say there is.

Other Ways To Express Thoughts

You don’t need to use any of it for character monologue. Yes, you read that correctly. It acts as an unnecessary barrier between the character and the reader, something I don’t like reading or writing.

Instead, try to integrate what the character is thinking right into the story by just saying what they’re thinking. I know it may sound confusing. How will the reader see the difference between thought and story?

Well, you can do it, and you will be able to hear the voice.

Example One:

The boy played in the backyard, wondering how tall the big tree was next to the fence and if he could climb up. He readied himself to run up the side until he caught the lowest branch, curious what would Mom think.

Example Two:

The boy played in the backyard. How tall was the big tree? Could he climb it? He readied himself to run up the side until he caught the lowest branch. What would Mom think of him being up there?

Although those examples were short, you can see what I’m trying to get at. In example two, despite being third person, you can see directly into the boy’s mind instead of viewing it through a lens.

You should be able to see the flow difference as well. Example two has a more harmonious rhythm.

How POV Types Affect Expressing Character Thoughts

But it can be affected by the POV type you choose to use. If you’re doing third-person omniscient, you can have more distance than if you were doing first-person limited.

You will hear others say I’m wrong not to emphasize character thoughts. I’ve read at least one article saying that. So try both ways, then use your judgment as to which style you prefer.

As long as you know your characters and how they speak, the readers can tell when it’s a direct thought and when it’s the general story.

Writing Mind Communication

Now, for the sci-fi/fantasy writers, if you’re displaying a telepathic conversation between at least two people (which happens more than you may think) or texting/written notes, you will need to distinguish that.

I’ve seen other authors do it in various ways. Some do it well; others get confused if they don’t distinguish clearly enough.

Here’s how I do it for my fiction stories, which you may have already seen in some of my stories:

  • ‘Word.’ — Telepathic conversation between two or more people.
  • ‘Word.’ — Telepathic conversation between a character and their animal half (If they’re a shifter.)
  • Word — Text message.
  • Word — Certain terms/names or written notes (unless I pick a different font for a character’s handwriting, which is standard.)

I think it makes the presentation of any fiction story clean.

Wrapping Things Up

Of course, you don’t have to follow this template strictly since I don’t know your story’s needs, but I think it clears up any potential confusion for readers and myself/yourself.

Anyway, as long as you have a straightforward method of showing it to your readers, you will be fine.

So, write!


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About the Creator

Amethyst Champagne

I create fiction, short stories, poetry, and more!

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    Amethyst ChampagneWritten by Amethyst Champagne

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