Thinking to myself — or not

If you read many blogs about writing, you’ve seen this advice before:  ‘Don’t ever use the phrase she thought to herself, because it’s redundant.  Of course she’s thinking to herself; to whom else could she think, you silly goose?’

Well, let me tell you…

Not long ago, I edited a science fiction novel in which it was sometimes necessary for the author to use the phrase he thought to himself, in order to distinguish thoughts the character keeps private from thoughts he shares with, for example, his younger brother.  The main character in that novel is a telepath, y’see.  🙂

This is one more example of the sort of writing issues mainstream authors never have to deal with, because it never comes up in the fiction they’re writing.  There is nothing wrong with fiction in which none of the characters are even the slightest bit telepathic (most of us like to imagine worlds unlike the one we know), but I do wish the creators of the Immutable Rules of Writing (hey, I just hit the halfway mark on my weekly sarcasm quota!) would stop creating Rules that ignore the possibilities of non-mainstream fiction.



About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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5 Responses to Thinking to myself — or not

  1. Laura L. says:

    Wow, you must have your sarcasm quota set to low. Maybe rethink raising it as a New Year’s habit? 😐

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are several blog posts’ worth of sarcasm and snark behind the expression “Immutable Rules of Writing,” but I think you’re right — I should strive for more sarcasm in the future. More sarcasm, less obscure-fiction-reference humor (because only LR and my clone get most of that anyway, and I have my doubts about LR); fewer ‘nothing to report today’ posts and more totally losing my cool and writing a bloggish rant because of a novel whose author WILL NOT use commas in compound sentences. Yeah. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Fearing agents’/editors’ pet peeves | Amos M. Carpenter

  3. In general, the reflexive pronouns are out of style with the how-to gurus (they’d much rather you use something else, although their examples are rarely what you want to say), but I ignored that “rule” when I wrote my first novel, because all uses of the reflexive are still in current Hiberno-English usage.

    Come to think of it, there’s a lot of language that’s scorned as “archaic” that can still be read every day in Irish newspapers, but their readership never complains about it (and Irish newspaper readers are not bashful about criticizing their journalists). I think there’s a lesson there, somewhere….

    Liked by 1 person

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