There are tons of articles out there about setting thoughts apart in third person and past tense narrative. You can use italics, thought tags, or both. Or you can just write everything in past tense, so it all just blends together. Some even recommend using quotation marks, which, to me, seems like it would only confuse the reader.
My problem is that I don’t write in third person. I like to write in first person, and my finished novel is in first person and past tense. If I’d decided to write it in present tense, I wouldn’t have an issue. Then all the direct thoughts would flow right into the narrative without any hiccups or bumps.
Since I started this process, I’ve wondered if the direct thoughts (written in first person and present tense) were too jarring intertwined with the narrative, but I haven’t been able to find any info on how to set thoughts apart in first person. Well, there’re always italics, but that would be a mess. Or I could write them all in past tense, but I think that would lessen the impact. There are certain scenes I think the reader needs to experience with the main character to really get the full effect.
I guess all of the things that work for third person would work for first person, but is it really necessary? We're living in the same head for the whole book anyway.
So, I’m wondering. If there is nothing to set them apart besides the tense change, do you find that thoughts in first person and present tense are distracting in a first person and past tense narrative? For those of you who write in first person, do you do anything to set your narrators direct thoughts apart from the rest of the narrative?
In case I’ve only confused you, I’ve included a snippet below as an example.