I'm currently writing a story that is being told from 3rd person that switches perspectives frequently, but I'd like to focus on only one character's train of thought for a paragraph. The thoughts aren't in the first person, though the thoughts are not part of narration.


Rhea sees this, and decides to act, knowing that Colton is the one that knows Leeanna almost as well as Emma does, and understanding that the people watching the camera probably know that, too.

"Just think about it," Rhea tells her, making eye contact, as Leeanna and Colton often do.

Emma, still staring at the door, thinks logically through her cause of worry.

Leeanna had been taken to an unknown room for an unknown reason, though Emma's best guess is that it wasn't so they could give her a cake. She could be in trouble, but yet again, this man needs them, he wouldn't hurt them if he knew it could prevent them from fulfilling his needs. So, chances are that Leeanna isn't actually being hurt. But, they may be attempting to control her, using whatever way they had of getting inside of their heads. Even so, those men think she's Emma, when she's actually not. Whatever they're doing to her is going to be aimed at Emma's powers, so it shouldn't affect Leeanna much at all. Really, Emma does not have much reason to be concerned.

Just like that, she feels the worry dissuade.

The center paragraph is all Emma's thoughts. Passages like these happen frequently throughout the novel, though it's more their thought process than their direct thoughts. For direct thoughts, I usually use italics to differentiate between direct thoughts and dialogue, but in this case is it necessary to use phrases like "Emma thinks" and "Emma understands" since the passage features multiple perspectives?

How would one differentiate between the narration and the character's thought process?

1 Answer 1


A simple way is to differentiate the narrative voice. Your narration should be clean, standard, grammatically correct prose, while these narrated thoughts can sound a bit choppier and more like speech.

(Separately, this is much harder to do if your book is in the present tense, so I'm shifting it to past for now.)

Leeanna had been taken to an unknown room for an unknown reason, though Emma assumed it wasn't so they could give her a cake. She could have been be in trouble. Still, this man needed them. Hurting them would only keep him from getting what he wanted. Best guess, Leeanna wasn't actually being hurt. They could be trying to control her, using whatever method they had to get into people's heads, but even if they were, they thought she was Emma, and whatever they might be doing would be aimed at Emma's powers. Leeanna wouldn't be affected much at all. Probably. Most likely. Really, there wasn't much reason for Emma to be concerned.

Emma's worry began to dissipate. She took a few deep breaths, closed her eyes, and reached out with her mind. Her awareness rose to the top of the building and then slowly sank, floor by floor, as she searched for the object she'd been assigned to find.

The "Emma assumed" (thinks/understands/etc.) tells the reader that this is Emma's POV, and the speech-like patterns shows that it's narration of thoughts (the thought process).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.