Character Internalization: To Italicize or Not to Italicize? – by Jami Gold…

A few years ago, Marcy Kennedy guest posted here to share three writing problems we can solve by understanding internal dialogue. At the time, I gushed about her book on the topic, Internal Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 7), and that book is still the best resource I know of for really understanding how to make our characters’ thoughts work for our story.

As Marcy says in her book, internal monologue (also known as internal/interior/inner monologue or dialogue, or just plain internalization) is:

“Internal dialogue is the conversation we have with ourselves, the running commentary inside our heads about our day.”

Internal monologue is a powerful technique to establish the story’s emotions, characterizations, motivations, story arc, etc. But many writers struggle with knowing how to use this technique.

In fact, one of the most common questions I see in various writing forums—about any topic—asks when we should italicize a character’s thoughts. The guidelines have shifted on this topic over the years, especially as more authors write in deep point of view (POV).

So let’s take a look at our options for how to format our characters’ internalizations

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