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How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 11th, 2010, 7:18 pm
by Betrisha
Could someone please tell me the correct way to write thoughts in middle grade? I am getting so many different answers and want to get it right. I have been told by some aspiring writers that I should put thoughts in italics or add ' she thought' I’ve been told this way is telling and not showing. I’m trying to write it with Deep POV. I don’t want to get it wrong and would appreciate any help. Thanks.

I don't use either most of the time. I sometimes add 'she thought' or I use this method>>
She tapped her mouth and thought for a moment. Hmm, that's it. I'll hide it in my backpack.
Mostly I write thoughts this way. Here is a excerpt from my manuscript>>
Molly climbed out the car and trotted behind her father towards the animal hospital. Surely Grandma wouldn’t let Furble anywhere near Tiddles again. And setting him free at the riverbank would be worse. The foxes and dingos would eat him for sure. Why couldn’t Furble just stay at their house? Adults were stupid sometimes. Maybe the vet would understand and tell Daddy to let Molly keep Furble. After all, she rescued him, didn’t she?
Thanks,

Trish.

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 11th, 2010, 10:45 pm
by Pesimisticus
Betrisha wrote:Could someone please tell me the correct way to write thoughts in middle grade? I am getting so many different answers and want to get it right. I have been told by some aspiring writers that I should put thoughts in italics or add ' she thought' I’ve been told this way is telling and not showing. I’m trying to write it with Deep POV. I don’t want to get it wrong and would appreciate any help. Thanks.

I don't use either most of the time. I sometimes add 'she thought' or I use this method>>
She tapped her mouth and thought for a moment. Hmm, that's it. I'll hide it in my backpack.
Mostly I write thoughts this way. Here is a excerpt from my manuscript>>
Molly climbed out the car and trotted behind her father towards the animal hospital. Surely Grandma wouldn’t let Furble anywhere near Tiddles again. And setting him free at the riverbank would be worse. The foxes and dingos would eat him for sure. Why couldn’t Furble just stay at their house? Adults were stupid sometimes. Maybe the vet would understand and tell Daddy to let Molly keep Furble. After all, she rescued him, didn’t she?
Thanks,

Trish.
I nearly always prefer thoughts the way you quoted, without the italics. It seems like a more seamless blend between the character herself, and her actions. When thoughts are in italics, I almost feel like I am getting a play-by-play transcript of actions and dialog.

Does that make any sense?

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 12th, 2010, 12:09 am
by marilyn peake
I agree with Pesimisticus. Trish, in your example it’s very clear that the character is thinking these thoughts, and italics would probably be annoying to the reader.

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 12th, 2010, 6:45 am
by Betrisha
Thanks Pesimisticus and marilyn. That's good, I don't have to go and rewrite my whole manuscript after all.

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 12th, 2010, 10:40 am
by polymath
Middle grade readers have a burgeoning capacity to process and evaluate a text. One desirable and recommendable feature of middle grade literature is incorporating writing methods that present challenges without overwhelming middle grade readers' comprehension capacities. Interior monologue, indirect depiction of thoughts, and other forms of introspection do challenge that reader group. As a consequence, less of those features than in young adult or adult literature is more desirable. The same is true of show and tell; more tell, less show than in more mature audience literature. Figurative abstract concepts and open to interpretation passages as well are recommended for sparse use. Yet there's a treacherous balance between challenging middle grade readers and underestimating their capacities that postulates careful application.

One factor that makes a middle grade story successful and respected across reading age groups is how it teaches its audience to think and learn for themselves, just as successful writers learn to think for themselves.

On writing thoughts in middle grade literature, all the prescribed methods are used in varying applications by middle grade literature authors. Which ones to use are a matter of "teaching" readers how to interpret the text within the text by using consistent, readily understandable methods in relevant contexts. Deep and frequent introspective depictions require comprehension skills that are in a process of development for middle graders. A best practice is to limit the frequency and depth of psychic access, again, without underestimating middle grade readers capacity to process and evaluate that access.

Which method, quantity, and depth of thoughts is correct, is a matter of self-imposed rules that follow writing conventions of middle grade literature. This is the law of writing, there are no absolutes. There are writing conventions and principles that are a writer's obligation to determine to apply as self-imposed internal rules.

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 12th, 2010, 10:44 am
by Ermo
Does anyone else think polymath is a computer?

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 12th, 2010, 6:36 pm
by Betrisha
Thanks polymath. That was really interesting and helpful reading.

Ermo, if polymath is a computer, I would like one at my house. Oh, I just realized. I have one. polymath came through my computer.

You guys are all awesome. Thanks for all the great comments. They all helped. What a great forum this is.

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 16th, 2010, 1:07 am
by victoria
Great advice polymath - I think all writers of MG fiction (and YA to some extent) should be wary of using high level language (cliches, idioms, figurative language, inferences etc) - all research indicates that these are [potentially] problematic for older children/young adults as they are still developing neurologically and aren't as capable with processing language as adults are.

Re: How to write thoughts in MG

Posted: February 16th, 2010, 8:13 am
by Seamus
Egad. I know so very litte. This must be why humility is so cruical to learning. Seriously, I've enjoyed everyone's wisdom on this topic.