Fiction writing: How to write your character’s thoughts

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In quality fiction writing it is often important to tell what your character is thinking. There are multiple acceptable methods for doing this. The method you choose depends largely on the point of view of your story, and the specific publication you are writing for.

Character Thought in Fiction Writing – Basic Methods

The two main methods of how to write your character’s thoughts in fiction are through the use of Italics or quotation marks and commas. In the first example, your characters thoughts would be written in italics without any quotation marks. You would still put a, between the thought and the thought tag such as “she thought.”

In the second example, your characters thoughts would be witnessed the same way as spoken dialogue. The actual thought would be in quotation marks and you would use a comma before the speech tag.

Character Thought in Fiction Writing – Point of View

The point of view you write your fiction in will also determine how to write your characters thoughts. First person point of view uses the word I and is told from the experience and knowledge of only one character. If you use first person point of view in your fiction writing, your character’s thoughts may be handled in a different way. When this story is told by one of the characters it is not necessary to put thought in Italics or quotation marks all the time. She or she can simply share their thoughts that the reader.

Third person point of view, that is the construction that uses he, she or it, usually has thoughts written in either a Italics or quotation marks. However, if you’re fiction writing is in what is called close or limited third person point of view some of the point of view characters thoughts can be shared much the same as in first person point of view.

In either point of view listed above, phrases and sentence is that are actively thought of by your character would still be put in Italics or quotation marks. The types of character’s thoughts that do not need that treatment are those that reflect on the setting or events as they take place from the narrating character’s point of view.

Character Thought in Fiction Writing – Publiciation Specific

If you intend to submit your fiction writing the application, the most important thing to remember a writing your characters thoughts is to do it the way the specific publication wishes you to. If this type of style guidelines is not spelled out in the submission rules, delve into the archives of the publication and see how characters thoughts are handled in other stories that were accepted.


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