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In casual writing we often use the colon to express that people are talking. Example:

Tom: hi
Mary: hi

I'm wondering what about if it is Tom thought of something instead of Tom talking? Like is this valid, or is there a better way to express this:

Tom thought: asdasd

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This seems a question for writers.SE. – kiamlaluno Jun 13 '11 at 10:29
@kia it will be off topic in writers.SE – Pacerier Jun 13 '11 at 15:54
@Reg casual writing is the keyword here.. – Pacerier Jun 13 '11 at 15:56
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The usual answer is:

(thinks) in braces,

or, in some situations you can use an ellipsis, or, you can use italics,
or you can use < pointy braces >. So, here's the "standard" way...

Tom: I love you.
Tim (thinks): Did he just say that?
Tom: I said I love you, dude!
Tim: Well, whoa!
Tom (thinks): But what next??

I think an ellipsis can work well, particularly in a poetic context, and if you're context is good so it's obvious it's a thought.

Tom: I love you
Tom... what have I said?!
Tim: You .. you love me?
Tim... did he just say that?

And so on. Enjoy!

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This form of writing comes out of the idea of a script. Usually in a script any action being undertaken is written before the colon — although these are usually actions, not thoughts, the same principle could work:

Tom: Hi.
Mary: Hi.
Tom (thinking Mary looks more tired than ever today): Are you feeling okay?

Of course this relies on Tom saying something after his thought. If that isn't the case, you can include the action as a separate line in brackets, like this:

Tom: Hi.
Mary: Hi.
(Tom thinks this is going to be a boring conversation.)
Mary: What have you been doing today?

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@Joe - yes I understand that - what makes you think I don't? – Waggers Jun 16 '11 at 9:56

Here's my two coins:

Tom: Hi!

Mary: Hi!

Tom: Thinks: Mary looks tired, Aloud: How are you?

Mary: thinks: Tom looks suspicious, Aloud: Good thank you!

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you gave me a good laugh – Pacerier Jun 13 '11 at 16:00

There are various options.

Mary: "Hi."
Tom: "What might she want today?" Tom thought, wondering, but decided to reply on a positive level. "Hello Mary, how may I help you?"

Or, without quotes.

Mary: "Hi."
Tom was wondering what Mary might want. Hiding the negative thoughts, he replied on a positive level. Tom: "Hello, Mary! How may I help you?"

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erm actually all these looks too "formal" – Pacerier Jun 13 '11 at 15:59

In creative writing e.g. novels and other fiction, there are no hard and fast rules to denote what someone is thinking. I have seen double-quotes, single quotes, and italics used to denote thought, as well as nothing at all. Italics in particular can cause confusion, because italics are also often used to denote a "flashback" in the narrative, and/or for emphasis. When someone is thinking in a narrative, the thought is un-italicised; same thing when a word is thought emphatically. I haven't seen what happens when a word is thought emphatically during a flashback :)

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