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Telepathic Dialogue

 

by

Marilynn Byerly

 

QUESTION: I have a character who is a telepath. Should I italicize what she picks up from others' minds?

If the characters are "speaking" mentally, I've often seen authors italicize the conversation.

Mary thought to Matt, What happened to my son?

 

He fell into the river but grabbed a log.

If, however, Mary is picking up the images from Matt's head, I'd do something like this--

Mary tilted her head and concentrated harder on what Matt was trying to show her with his thoughts.

 

Darkness. A river surging past. A hand reaching out of the water and grasping a log. Then her son's head coming up out of the water as he pulls himself up onto the floating log.

 

"He's not dead," Mary sobbed and rubbed away her tears. "Billy's not dead."

I’ve also seen writers use colons for mental dialogue in the same way as you would use quotation marks.

Mary thought to Matt, :What happened to my son?:

 

:He fell into the river but grabbed a log.:

The advantage of using the colon is that there will be no confusion about when speakers change.

The most important thing to remember is to choose one method and use it consistently.

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