[Writing] How would you write someone's thoughts?

48Tentacles

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Suppose the main character instead of saying a phrase out loud for everyone to hear, he thinks about it for some reason, probably because he doesn't want to offend someone, because he's a spy, or probably because he's Gordon Freeman.

I've met writers who write thoughts by a character in different ways. There are ones who write them between parenthesis, others who write italics, some who makes a weird combination of these, whatever. I don't know the general consensus in this forum, but I wouldn't use full italics to write someone's thoughts, because otherwise it'd be a waste of opportunity to use italics in moments in certain words as highlight with the hope that the player is paying attention to them. An example would be this situation:

1635073411427.png

I don't know examples of works in text using specific patterns to represent thoughts. So this is why I'm asking.

Edit: I'm gonna share another screenshot of this game which shall remain nameless but I wanna focus on how I'd like to write someone's thoughts, now that I found a perfect example.
1635108179310.png

Between parenthesis and nothing else. That is it. Narration is another good use for this without using the character's name field, but first person narration is not my expertise.
 
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Dungeonmind

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This is usually a personal preference in creative writing for video games but most people do it with brackets to contain in something so that it implies only the person talking can hear it. (their own thoughts.)
 

bishiba

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I would use *text*:
- I know. And that's exactly why I trust you.
- *But you don't know my deep dark secret yet*

I've seen others use (text):
- I know. And that's exactly why I trust you.
- (But you don't know my deep dark secret yet)

But I would personally use () for narrator. Or rather, I would, if I use a narrator in my game! :D
- I know. And that's exactly why I trust you.
- (But she doesn't know their deep dark secret yet)

Alternatively you could use quotation marks for dialog:
- "I know. And that's exactly why I trust you."
- But you don't know my deep dark secret yet

Granted, this might work better for actual books and similar.

Good luck and best regards,
Bishiba
 

Finnuval

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(like this) or *like this*

tho unlike @bishiba I would use *more for narrator* and (for thoughts)
because I would aslo us * for actions like *scratches his head*

thats my 2 cents anyway
 

ShadowDragon

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another way to know other thoughs is to ask some people in RL
or people you could DM for a question and how they respond to it.

you will see that many has different answers, specially the color,
for me it is "Green", other could say, blue, white, yellow, red, pink etc
for different reasons.

so what is your idea on mind control? or reading minds?
each person is different, so how many people in your game
has it's own personality that is different from others?

it can make things unique, depending on your perspective.
 

bishiba

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(like this) or *like this*

tho unlike @bishiba I would use *more for narrator* and (for thoughts)
because I would aslo us * for actions like *scratches his head*

thats my 2 cents anyway
Yes, you are right actually. The thing is for me, if I write a story where I am using a narrator I am writing in, say google docs. At that time I use quotation marks for every dialog and if I narrate then I just don't use quotation marks, excerpt from one of my stories:

Upon seeing the flickering light from his parent’s campfire gently touching the trees, Vurhan was filled with excitement and started running toward them. However, while he is still unable to see the cart, he hears a voice travelling over the thick roots of these dark woods.

“Come on already, I want to see if her blood is as green as her skin!” An unknown voice shouted.
 

Finnuval

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Yes, you are right actually. The thing is for me, if I write a story where I am using a narrator I am writing in, say google docs. At that time I use quotation marks for every dialog and if I narrate then I just don't use quotation marks, excerpt from one of my stories:

Upon seeing the flickering light from his parent’s campfire gently touching the trees, Vurhan was filled with excitement and started running toward them. However, while he is still unable to see the cart, he hears a voice travelling over the thick roots of these dark woods.

“Come on already, I want to see if her blood is as green as her skin!” An unknown voice shouted.
no right or wrong here - just preference xD
 

bishiba

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no right or wrong here - just preference xD
Oh, I didn't mean it wasn't! Don't know if you thought I was arguing about what is right and wrong :)
I just added another 2 cents into the mix xD
 

Finnuval

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@bishiba haha no I didn't. just wanted to clarify - as things can get easily misread at times :)
 

SigmaSuccour

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I use (brackets)

Example below: at 7:20 mark in this gameplay, the dialogues that pop up at the bottom right are the main character's thoughts as he speaks:

 

PopeUrban

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I'd consider asking why you feel compelled to verbalize the character's thoughts in the first place.

While it may be somewhat commonplace in certain genres (and I fully recognize that anime is one of those genres) video games as a visual medium share a lot with film, and generally speaking putting a "thought voiceover" in a film script is one of the first things that going to get cut for being lazy or hokey.

Ask yourself if you can communicate your story effectively through proper use of subtext, visual emotion, auditory hints, or other presentation tools available to you. Ask yourself if making the audience do a bit of work to understand your subtext is going to make your script better, as it more often than not does, because it means you've spent extra effort crafting it in stead of taking an easier route.

If you need to broadcast a character's thoughts, you may find its because your dialogue or story can stand to be changed to make it unnecessary, and as a result feel more natural to your audience. Might be worth doing a bit of reading on screenwriting as the techniques are 1:1 applicable to video game writing as well considering the audience interacts with the dialogue in the same way. There are several great books on the subject but for starters I'd recommend a quick and dirty article on a site that has a ton of good writing advice:


If you must do so, however, try using text color to make the distinction. This will allow you to retain use of the full range of punctuation and text style tools available.
 

Milennin

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(Like this) would be the most common, I think. Outside of RPG Maker (or with use of plugins), you could maybe also use italics (like this), or like this.
 

ericv00

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I think either italics or (parenthesis) work.

Depending on how often and how important these thoughts are, you could opt to emphasize these moments with a combination of sound, lighting, different font, different text box, an image, even a dedicated break to a different screen, or what have you.

For the most part, the thoughts of my characters are usually purposefully kept from the reader. Only a handful are presented. So, in my project, my plan is to have thoughts displayed without a text box next to the character in contrast to dialogue, which is presented in a conventional text box.
 

TeiRaven

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In prose, I usually go the italics route--I don't find it detracts from being able to use italics elsewhere for emphasis. If I need to emphasize something within the thought, I'll bold it.

Hmm, the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, but jackdaws love a big sphynx of quartz, she thought.

This is how I've most frequently seen thoughts formatted, and I think most readers get it right away--especially with the help of dialogue tags that can be sprinkled in to confirm. Finish the first block of italic text with some variation of "he thought" and the reader now knows what it means.

Inn a textbox, though, I think the conventions are a bit different since you can't add those dialogue tags for extra clarity. In a textbox, I'd use (parentheses.) If you're using facesets, you could also use a "thinking" emote to help drive home the point.
 

coucassi

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You can also use the textbox instead of the text itself: I place thoughts at the top edge of the screen, while spoken language is always at the bottom (though this might not work for you, judging by the screenshot you shared). But you could also use a different window frame or background or text color. I could imagine something greyish for thoughts.
You could also have a little tail on your box, when someones speaking, while using a bubble for thinking ...

For books & written texts I'd always use italic, but in a game it mostly looks strangely out of place for me.
 

Solar_Flare

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I agree that italics is a bad choice (whether in prose or in a game). For people who do choose italics for thoughts though, they usually indicate emphasis by unitalicizing a word. It sort of works, but I don't like it. Using bold for nested emphasis is another option, though I haven't seen it much.

I'd probably go with parentheses.
But I would personally use () for narrator. Or rather, I would, if I use a narrator in my game! :D
- I know. And that's exactly why I trust you.
- (But she doesn't know their deep dark secret yet)
I wouldn't use any special convention for narrator text. Narration would be in message boxes without a face or name box, while dialogue would be in messages that do have a name box and usually a face.
 

KazukiT

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This is usually a personal preference in creative writing for video games but most people do it with brackets to contain in something so that it implies only the person talking can hear it. (their own thoughts.)
I was thinking the same thing and this is what I do for my own games.
 

SilverR

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I usually use smaller fonts(compared with common sentence), or I will change the color of message window(ex:white → black)
 

HankB

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I wouldn't use full italics to write someone's thoughts, because otherwise it'd be a waste of opportunity to use italics in moments in certain words as highlight with the hope that the player is paying attention to


Stephen King did this all the time, and while I noticed it, it never struck me as odd or broke emersion. Also, since italics are generally used to emphasize a word or phrase, he would invert it, so that a sentence or paragraph would be all italics, and the emphasized word would be regular, which would make it stand out.

For example:

Jesus, if I'd have known how much of a mess this was going to be, I would have broke off our engagement months ago. I can't believe how creepy he is!

vs

Jesus, if I'd have known how much of a mess this was going to be, I would have broke off our engagement months ago. I can't believe how creepy he is!


It's purely a stylistic consideration, but as a reader, this always worked for me. I know King did this, but I also seem to recall that George RR Martin did this as well, but I'm not sure, because I loaned out all his books and therefore cannot confirm.
 

BK-tdm

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I went with visual diferences, all thoughts go into a diferent text window with a different location (yanfly's gab window for mv in this case) and since all my character dialogues have open mouths of sorts the gab is a closed mouth faceset and no one reacts to whats said in the gab window, hence is a thought/monologue.
 

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