Today I want to talk about italicizing internal dialogue. Because everyone seems to want me to do it, but I keep refusing.
Because…dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a typesetter!
I should explain why I feel so strongly on this point. And I should also acknowledge that I’m expecting a lot of writers to disagree with me on this one. Hoping for it, actually.
It’s all good.
I’m calling this possibly controversial topic Italics-gate. Italics-gate comes from some feedback I’ve been getting lately on my own writing and also a consistency I’ve been noticing in the writing I critique for other folks. Some writers – not all, certainly, but some – seem to adhere to an as far as I can determine unwritten rule that goes something like this:
(1) If a character is having an internal thought, it must be italicized.
(2) If you can’t italicize, you must include “I thought” (or similar) to make sure the reader knows it is a section of internal dialogue.
In fact this “rule” has been regurgitated to me in a critique group meeting recently, with a clear tone that said, “You’re doing it wrong.”
Respectfully, I disagree.