Often times when I write I like to intersperse my discourse with hypothetical reader replies or questions or thoughts. I also sometimes include within story discussions between the writer (myself) and my hypothetical readers. Whenever I do this I am very uncertain on the correct punctuation to use and am looking for help/suggestions. See below for an example with no punctuation used.
……Based on my definition above I also do accept (with some limited exceptions) that most (possibly all) animals (though probably not insects or ‘lower’ life forms) have agency. Case closed, you might be thinking, so why waste my time on this stupid post if you already have the answer to the question you asked in your too smart by half title. Great question would be my reply, if you were thinking such a thing, but then I would ask you if you think it is possible for an animal (a cat in this particular case) that we all agree has agency, to ever lose it, and if so how? No doubt you would pause for a moment to consider my question, then as its cleverness and difficulty slowly dawns upon you, gasp in awe, shake your head, and say, I have no idea so please go ahead and explain it to me mr. smart guy….
The areas where I think punctuation is needed are listed below in parentheses along with my thoughts about how to handle each. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
(Case closed) = I would italicize this as it is an example of someone (my hypothetical reader) thinking something. I like to italicize thoughts that are not spoken. I believe this is the default standard approach.
(so why waste my time on this stupid post if you already have the answer to the question you asked in your too smart by half title)= Also italicized for same reason.
(Great question) = I think I might put this in double quotes as in the text I say that this “would be my reply” however I am very unsure on this and would appreciate your thoughts.
(if you think it is possible for an animal (a cat in this particular case) that we all agree has agency, to ever lose it, and if so how) = I have no idea on this one. The setup is “but then I would ask you if you think it is possible…” I say that I would ask you about this thing but I do not proscribe exactly how I would ask the question, only that I would ask it. Plus I am asking it hypothetically to a hypothetical reader. Very confusing. Maybe I should write less confusingly? Nah.
(I have no idea so please go ahead and explain it to me mr. smart guy) = I would put this one in double quotes I think because I say that you (my hypothetical reader) would actually say this. However, again it is a hypothetical reply that a hypothetical reader might say, they might say it a different way entirely or not at all.
Thoughts on any/all of the above??