Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - today's words are italics and Pico (cuz there's an I in there)

Today is brought to you by the letter "I". Or, the letter "I" is brought to you by the 10th day of April. Something like that.

Hmm, "I". There aren't many interesting grammar words that begin with "I". There are several, they just aren't interesting from the aspect of "do we really need to know it in order to be a better writer?" I'm sure some would disagree with me and maybe I should have chosen the difference between indicative and imperative moods. But honestly, I don't even feel like looking those up.

So here's something most writers think about at some point: how to show a character's internal (another "I") thoughts. There are three options.

Pico thought, "Where is this crazy girl taking me?"
Pico stared out of the trailer, wondering why someone he didn't know was taking him away.
Is this my new home?

Does it matter? Probably not too much, but you should be consistent throughout your ms. I do have a slight opinion. I think the  above examples have different levels of distancing the character from the reader.

He could hear the rattling trailer.
He heard traffic whizzing by.
A whinny called out a greeting as they entered the driveway.

Each feels closer for the reader than the sentence before. I personally feel that adding quotes and tags to internal thoughts has a bit of a distancing effect. Like the difference between showing and telling. It also isn't necessary to use italics, just put the thought in regular font and the reader will get it. I tend to prefer the italics because I write in past tense, but put my internal thoughts in present tense. It might be a little weird w/o the additional font change.

What is your opinion? I'm always looking to expand my writing techniques, so please share what works for you.

Now I'm going to force my picture of Pico into Blogging "I" day. The reason is, aside from never having owned a horse whose name began with I, that I just bought him. The day before I wrote this post (March 28th). His registered name is Rafiqko, but he's been called Pico (and darned if I can pick the best of many possible Spanish translations - apex, pinnacle maybe?). Now what am I going to post for "P"?

Pico is a 6yo Egyptian Arabian gelding. His owner had to sell him because of a traumatic brain injury that affected his balance and riding ability. The guy always wanted to do endurance with Pico, so I'm the perfect new owner for him. Aside from the fact that I already have three horses to condition and this horse needs a lot of work. His feet had been neglected and he's underweight. He also doesn't trust new people, so we're starting very slow. Got his feet done and I've led him around our property. I think he'll eventually be awesome!

Hey, know any good horse names starting with "I" in case I do this again some day?

Ffor those who want to know more about Pico. I wrote this post early since I'd be out of town for a few days. I've had him for 2 weeks now and I rode him for the first time today. He was very nervous before and I wanted to let him agree he was ready. We didn't do much, but he was calm. We're still working on the mess his previous farrier left his feet in, but Pico is coming along nicely and will soon be going down the trail.


  1. I agree with using italics for internal thought. I like the distinction between quotes for external expression and italics for unspoken thoughts. :)

  2. I like the way you're explaining things in these tips. I might actually be learning a little bit.
    Shawn from Laughing at Life 2

    1. I'm trying to make these tips light and usable for regular writing, so I hope I'm succeeding!

  3. i'm a italics (well, underline while i'm writing it) girl. I have had moments when thoughts are in regular print that have confused me. actually more than one occasion because they were four or five sentences long and then switched over to thought.

    so i need that distinction because i can confuse myself without it.

    1. Another place things can get confusing is when italics are used for mental communication. We have to be careful we don't have both going on at the same time. I have a computer speaking in my MG and I use italics for that. So I make sure I avoid internal thoughts on those pages. Otherwise, it should be clear which is which.

  4. I rarely use italics. Sometimes for emphasis, but hardly ever.

    1. My first ms had italics everywhere for internal thoughts. I did have an agent comment that it was off-putting, so I've backed off substantially, but I still like them!

  5. Love this blog--glad I stumbled onto it! (Might be something about those bookshelves . . but it's the content, too, of course! Books and horses--exactly what I grew up on. And cats.)

    Horse names starting with I. . . I've never had one whose name started with I either. Maybe Ishmael? Ichabod? Irving?

    Just found something that might help--man, I love the internet! (ooh, Internet starts with I too!):

    1. I like cats too. My sits on my shoulders when I write.

      Oh, I must name a horse Ishtar some day!