SAYING STUFF TWICE
I’ve said time and time again that the most important thing is to write it first and worry about the editing later. You must follow your muse first and clean it up afterward, before you lose your inspiration. We’re going to get a bit deeper here because this is something that’s another one of my foibles. Though what I say may be grammatically correct, editorially, it isn’t.
I’m talking about saying something twice when it’s only necessary to say it once. My writing continues to get cleaner after years of experience and my own self-editing, before I present it to my writer’s group. Now, they’re picking up on deeper stuff I’ve never thought about. These might be things you probably don’t realize you’re doing.
Meleena jumped at the loud sound. That startled me!
Okay. What’s wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong with using italics for her thoughts. That’s correct. There’s nothing wrong with NOT saying She thought. as it’s unnecessary to add a tag since the italics clearly state that it’s a thought.
Is something wrong with the other part of the sentence?
This is a perfect example of saying something twice. Since Meleena jumped, that showed she was startled by the sound. Having her say it, either thinking it or saying it aloud, is saying the same thing twice, telling and unnecessary, wasting words.
It’s very easy to fall into this trap, especially when you’re trying to carry on an internal dialogue with your character. The thoughts should be independent of the action or at least branch off from it so it isn’t just a repeat of the same thing.
Meleena jumped at the loud sound. Calm down. I’m protected with that spell Niin put on me.
Note the difference? Her internal thoughts branch off into something different, not just a repeat of a reaction to the sound.
These differences can be subtle, but you’ll learn them as you become more proficient.
The key is to be aware of double-saying and eventually incorporate it into your writing skill set. Don’t get too worked up over it at first blush. However, when editing, look for double saying examples and eliminate them. I’m sure you won’t catch them all but the more you can catch, the cleaner your prose will be.