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But the more I played with the idea, the more I thought, What better way to ward Juli off? What better way to say to her, “Juli, you are not my type”?

I read the above sentence in the book FLIPPED. I am not sure why there is no verb in the sentence 'what better way to ward juli off? and 'What better way to say to her'. I think these two are phrases rather than a clause. I believe that they are objects of thought, so is it possible to rewrite it as what is the better way to ward Juli off? What is the better way to say to her?

The only reason that I can think why there is no verb is that because of the parallel construction in English. Is that right?

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You can use "what" at the beginning of a sentence for two purposes:

  1. to ask a question:

What is a better way to spend the day than at the beach? (= I don't want to go to the beach today. Is there a better way to spend my day?)

  1. to emphasize your idea and to indicate that the thing you are talking about is the best.

What better way to get inspired than by accompanying a good friend? (= There is no better way to get inspired than by accompanying a good friend)

In your sentence, when he says:

But the more I played with the idea, the more I thought, What better way to ward Juli off?

he conveys that "His idea is the best and there is no better way to ward Juli off than his idea".

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