Authors: Is it better to have a character’s thought(s) in the same paragraph with the action or in a new paragraph?
- SpeedLv 710 months agoFavourite answer
RhettK, there's no reason not to put the thoughts and actions (or dialogue) in the same paragraph when they are related. As always, you'd break for a new paragraph if they're unrelated.
Jeff inhaled deep and smiled to himself. At the next farm over they were cutting hay, for sure. The sweet scent took him back to nights in the hayloft with that neighbor girl. What was her name? Polly? Maybe Molly. It was so long ago.
His actions, inhaling and smelling the hay, are directly related to what he thinks, so it logically all goes together, right? But this doesn't:
Jeff inhaled deep and smiled to himself. At the next farm over they were cutting hay, for sure.
Better that sweet scent than nauseating char. He'd expected a gut-punch emotional reaction at seeing the house burned to the ground, but the reek of melted plastics, burned clothing, and God knows what else made him physically ill.
The action, smelling the hay, and the thought, the stink of a burnt house, aren't really connected, so there's not any reason to keep them in a single paragraph.
- william ellisLv 710 months ago
Sure but must follow the Law of Writing, "A start, middle and a ending," Editor said, "70% of the stuff he got to edit, he sends back after reading 16 pages having no start" so you mold the thoughts, whispers, or thinking into the paragraph to fulfill this Law...
- Anonymous10 months ago
It depends on the nature of the action and the overall feel you're trying to impart. Are the thoughts jarring interruptions, as if the character is speaking to themself, perhaps in shock or to scold? Then a new paragraph is good. Are they just a continuation of the character's actions, integrating smoothly into the scene and adding to the ambience rather than instigating a change? Then you can keep them in the same paragraph.
In the end it's up to you and the experience you are trying to impart on the reader.