I'm immersed in final editing of my next book, Eldercide, and on this go-round, I realize I may have overused italics to emphasize significant bits of interior monologue. A random example:
"You must be the nurse from Compassionate Care. Come on in."
I will if you get your beer belly out of the doorway, Claire wanted to say.

This one doesn't need italics, probably, but there are other passages that could benefit by retaining them. I'm checking some of my favorite writers to see what they do. Tess Gerritsen, for example, uses them quite a lot; others don't use them at all. What do others think? When you encounter italics, does it turn you off?

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I find long passages or entire chapters of italics (e.g. flashbacks, different POV) hard to read. I don't mind them for internal monologue, if said monologue isn't overused.
Hi Julie. It's a bit of a personal one is it not? I'm not bothered by them when I come across them, but I would probably not use them to point out interior speak, no need if you don't pop the commas around the sentence or when you add, 'Claire wanted to say.'
But there again everyone is different. In my latest book I used them to denote a personal history of one of my main characters, my editor wasn't crazy about it, but my copy editor said it was just fine, so each to their own I guess.
Until another author suggested I try 'deeper POV', I hadn't used it. I always thought that if you wrote the narratives with enough insight into the character through his/her actions, that it wouldn't be necessary. But I tried the technique and found I liked it in spots.

It serves as deeper insight into the character's nature and gives the reader's eye a break like a dialogue line. (I usually show these lines separate, like dialogue.) But like Gerard, I don't care for a long sections of italicized words. And if an author overuses it, the technique loses its effectiveness.
i think it is often a personal choice. I'm a less is more person, so I tend to avoid italics if possible. I once had a copy editor who put a lot of my character's thoughts in italics. I didn't STET her changes and once the book came out I regretted it.
How about forget the italics. And do things like "She would if he'd get his beer belly out of the way." Using the words that she might think.

I greatly dislike the use of italics unless the reader wouldn't know that it was thought unless it was in italics.

Hi, Jordan.
I never use italics and I do a lot of internalizing. I find italics especially irritating when an author makes a distinction between general internalizing and strong emotional reactions by using italics for the latter.
I don't think I've ever seen that. I don't think I want to, either.

I don't think italics are necessary, usually, but I also don't mind it. The use of italics for stronger reactions that you mentioned doesn't sound appealing, though.
Interesting response. You've specified the exact situation when I do like to use italics, but I'm wondering why you find it "especially irritating"? The obvious response would be that the writing should be strong enough to get the intensity of the reaction across without resorting to italics. But I find italics useful for expressing a thought in first person and present tense, almost like dialogue. That sets it off from the third person-past tense that I'm using overall, and minimizes the need for phrases like "she thought" or "she felt."

All in all, thanks in part to this discussion, I'll probably go on using italics but much less frequently than in the draft I'm editing. For example, Claire's thoughts about Lester's beer belly will no longer be in italics - they're not deserving of that much emphasis.
Sorry. I didn't get back to this sooner. Basically it confuses me and I stop to think what differentiates this sentence in italics from other thoughts. In the end I decide that the author wanted it to stand out (not the character, but the author!). In other words, it acts like an exclamation mark -- or several exclamation marks. And those are best kept to a minimum.

Basically, the writing should make the significance clear without italics.
I reallydon't like the word really and I reallythink if the main issue is if you're noticing the italics, it's too much. I would describe my use as sparing when it comes to italics. I just read a book that I had to put down because it was a blizzard of italics. The book was awful anyway. No loss. GREAT question.
I also put down a book recently that had an overuse of italics. Eventually it became really, really annoying and I didn't finish the book. Problem is, I don't know if it was because of the annoying italics, or maybe the book just wasn't that great. What I really think is that using italics for internal thought should be done sparingly, much like the use of the exclamation mark. It's like spicing a fine dish. Too much and it ruins it.
Hi Julie, I've seen this question pop up in other forums, these responses seem similar too. Things, like the use of italics, can be discussed until the cows come home, but in some instances, it may depend entirely on the publisher's guidelines. Mine for instances, wants internal monologue in italics while other publishers don't. It doesn't mean I have to use them. When I don't, I used other methods such as dialogue or gestures to let my character to express himself.

I don't like long italicized phrases either. They are distracting, however, it does give emphasis when it's not overused and then only on one or two words in a phrase.

Okay, dare I admit it? I used them in my novel, but only a sparingly!! So far, it hasn't bothered anyone who has read my novel, readers or reviewers.


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