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Q&A

How do we distinguish someone talking to another person via telepathy rather than via vocal means?

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In my sci-fi novel, some people have the ability to talk via telepathy so how do we distinguish telepathy from other types of communication? I would like to do it, because it's not the same, and I want to stress it out.

Anyway, here's an excerpt I wrote just a few moments ago:

"It won't take too much time. He will be here any moment now." said Tim

"Don't worry the SWAT team is already on their way." Tim told Matthew telepathically.

"Really!? Thank God. I was getting nervous." said Matthew.

Not sure how other people do it, but I would be interested in how this can be done.

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This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/q/43624. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

3 comments

I don't have "close as duplicate" privileges yet, but this was definitely covered: https://writing.codidact.com/questions/18526 Lauren Ipsum‭ about 1 year ago

@Lauren that's very closely related and maybe they should be dupes, but that one asks only about formatting while this one asks a slightly broader question, how to indicate it (which isn't just formatting, as I suggested in my answer). I wonder if we should close the other one as a dupe of this one? (We don't have merging yet to bring the answers all together, though if you move your answer here I wouldn't feel bad about then closing that as a dupe of this.) Monica Cellio‭ about 1 year ago

2 answers

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The first step is to use different styling for the telepathic parts, as suggested in the answer by Evil Sparrow. I recommend against using italics because italics are often used for inner dialogue (thoughts).

But it's not just styling; go deeper. Telepathy is a different kind of communication, so think about how it works in your setting. It's probably not just the same sequence of words that the characters would otherwise speak. Telepathy, being mental, could bring along other mental data -- mood, images, other senses.

"It won't take too much time. He will be here any moment now." said Tim.

<SWAT, incoming> Tim's pulse quickened, throbbing in Matthew's mind. He glanced down the empty street and mind-saw the van.

"Really!? Thank God. I was getting nervous." said Matthew.

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+3
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It helps if you use something else instead of quotation marks for the telepathic dialogue. For example:

<Don't worry, the SWAT team is already on their way.>

Parentheses and italics can do the job as well.

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