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maxmordon
11-29-2008, 05:02 AM
Do you do that in your WIP? Do you think is good to do it? If so, with which quote do you start?

My current WIP starts with a quote from Venezuelan president Cipriano Castro:

La patria; redimida de nuevas y tremendas calamidades, seguirá con paso firme su nueva su carrera de grandezas, y los hombres escogidos por La Providencia para estos empeños humanos habremos cumplido con nuestro deber.

And English translation would be:

The fatherland; redeemed from new and tremendous calamities shall be continuing with strong pace her new path of greatness and the men chosen by The Providence for these human labors shall have accomplished our duty.

Fenika
11-29-2008, 05:07 AM
Max, you mean above chapter 1 or around the acknowledgement area? either way, I'd do it when the quote fits the novel, even if only I know why for the later.

maxmordon
11-29-2008, 05:09 AM
Max, you mean above chapter 1 or around the acknowledgement area? either way, I'd do it when the quote fits the novel, even if only I know why for the later.

In either way or starting each chapter... or doing like Dune and use fictional sources from the book so the character can understand a bit more of the setting.

Mr. Chuckletrousers
11-29-2008, 05:49 AM
In either way or starting each chapter... or doing like Dune and use fictional sources from the book so the character can understand a bit more of the setting.
I kind of like it as a device to hint at setting or to set up themes, though it can stray into the Pretentious Twaddle Zone very easily. Also, you should avoid putting important stuff up there because plenty of people will just skip it, especially if it is written in Ye Olde English or in 'faux epic' style.

IceCreamEmpress
11-29-2008, 06:16 AM
Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner mocked this convention relentlessly in The Gilded Age--it's one of the funniest things in a very funny book.

That said, if it works for you, go for it. A lot of people love epigraphs.

citymouse
11-29-2008, 06:44 AM
I asked a writer friend about this and she said to be sure what you write is better than he quote.
C

ishtar'sgate
11-29-2008, 07:05 AM
My novel, The First Vial, was set during the Black Plague in England. To tie in the title to the subject matter I used a quote from the Bible just under the heading for Chapter 1 and right before the first words of the story.
The quote was "And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore."

This expression for describing plague sores was commonly used at the time.

maestrowork
11-29-2008, 07:20 AM
Epigraphs can be done for great effects. But do understand that some people may skip or not pay attention to them. Also, you probably don't want to give too much away in the epigraph of what is to come in the chapter...

Nivarion
11-29-2008, 07:28 AM
I would only begin with a quote if it sums the theme of the story. i don't know what your story is about, and I have troubles understanding translations, and am not good enough with spainish to understand the actual text, but the quote seems to be about rebuilding.

if it is, and your story is about rebuilding after destruction, then it would fit.

also follow your gut, if you feel it fits, then it likely does.

Mad Queen
11-29-2008, 07:33 AM
Quotes are great when they say exactly what you want to say and you will never be able to say it as well. Either that or you want to acknowledge a work that inspired yours.

maxmordon
11-29-2008, 08:45 AM
I would only begin with a quote if it sums the theme of the story. i don't know what your story is about, and I have troubles understanding translations, and am not good enough with spainish to understand the actual text, but the quote seems to be about rebuilding.

if it is, and your story is about rebuilding after destruction, then it would fit.

also follow your gut, if you feel it fits, then it likely does.

It's about power and the political intrigue of the rulers of a country; hence, "men chosen by The Providence for these human labors shall have accomplished our duty"

Nandi
11-29-2008, 06:35 PM
In yesterday's Author!Author! blog, Anne Mini advised against using epigraphs in manuscript submissions, and she said that any quotation longer than 50 words and not in the public domain will require copyright permission.

Mr. Chuckletrousers
11-29-2008, 06:46 PM
In yesterday's Author!Author! blog, Anne Mini advised against using epigraphs in manuscript submissions, and she said that any quotation longer than 50 words and not in the public domain will require copyright permission.
i.e. Quote the Classics. They're free!

HeronW
11-29-2008, 07:06 PM
I liked the Dune quotes as they tied in with the chapter. I've also read many classic horror tales that have a line or two that portends some link between a literary quote from Biblical or Shakespeare or Homer and the icky mess that follows.

I see the epigraph as adding another layer from an observer--whether a student of history or a participant. Making them up to fit can be difficult but I think those can tend to work better than borrowing someone else's words. Often I'll borrow the style from the Bard or Ovid and redo with fictional myths/political pasts, etc.

tehuti88
11-29-2008, 07:21 PM
I've started with quotes a couple of times, but I don't do it very often. Mainly because I'm too lazy to look about for quotes that would fit my theme, and I don't feel they often contribute that much to the story itself. (That is, my story can do just as well without quotes, so why bother?) I don't mind seeing them in others' work as long as the relation they have to the writing becomes clear at some point.

Regarding making up quotes from the reality of the story's world, I don't tend to do that because I'd feel very stupid doing so. Others can pull it off though. I think Clarke did it in "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell."

priceless1
11-29-2008, 07:31 PM
The problem I see with epigraphs is that they only have true meaning to the author and leave the reader scratching their heads. They end up having a negative effect and the reader simply skips over them. I end up usually having the author remove them.

selkn.asrai
11-29-2008, 07:57 PM
The problem I see with epigraphs is that they only have true meaning to the author and leave the reader scratching their heads. They end up having a negative effect and the reader simply skips over them. I end up usually having the author remove them.

Do you concur? I concur. Often too lofty to contribute positively to the work.

Clio
11-29-2008, 10:17 PM
Also, you should avoid putting important stuff up there because plenty of people will just skip it, es

I agree here. I can remember reading Robert Harris' excellent Pompeii, in which each chapter began with a quote from a scientific treatise on vulcanology. After the first two chaps I skipped every one of these, and I can't say the story was in any way diminished by my skipping these quotes.

If you are going to use them, perhaps use them in this way - i.e. they are an optional extra, and not fundamental to the story as a whole.

SPMiller
11-29-2008, 10:31 PM
I know a lot of fantasy writers who do this. I usually skip the quotes.

Just like prologs, which I also skip.

JIHAD!

maxmordon
11-29-2008, 10:38 PM
JIHAD!

http://www.fantasymundo.com/galeria/imagenes/dune/dune11.jpg

SPMiller
11-29-2008, 10:41 PM
THE OIL--ER, SPICE MUST FLOW!

gypsyscarlett
11-29-2008, 11:37 PM
I think epigraphs are great when properly placed.

I'm reading Tim Power's The Stress of Her Regard. The book uses Byron, Shelley, and Keats as characters. Each chapter begins with a piece of their poetry. I love the Romantics so it's an added bonus for me.

KikiteNeko
12-01-2008, 02:41 AM
For what it's worth, if my novel goes to print, I want to open it with a passage from a poem. My agent said we should wait until a publisher makes an offer before worrying about that. It may not be totally in the author's hands.

Jackfishwoman
12-01-2008, 03:11 AM
In yesterday's Author!Author! blog, Anne Mini advised against using epigraphs in manuscript submissions, and she said that any quotation longer than 50 words and not in the public domain will require copyright permission.

That's true! My novel was full of quotes/poems/lyrics when I submitted it and all but two were cut by the editor because permissions would be too difficult/costly to secure. Then my editor moved the poem that originally concluded the book, to the very beginning!

Ken
12-01-2008, 03:25 AM
And was it his destined part
Only one moment in his life
To be close to your heart?

Turgenev quote used by Dostoyevsky at the outset of his remarkable short story "White Nights."

IceCreamEmpress
12-01-2008, 07:20 AM
In yesterday's Author!Author! blog, Anne Mini advised against using epigraphs in manuscript submissions, and she said that any quotation longer than 50 words and not in the public domain will require copyright permission.

That's not true at all. Anne Mini should not spread misinformation like that.

There is no kind of "bright line" wordcount for what is and isn't fair use. Full stop.

And just so you don't have to take my word over Anne Mini's, I give you the US Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html):

There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

maxmordon
12-01-2008, 07:27 AM
That's not true at all. Anne Mini should not spread misinformation like that.

There is no kind of "bright line" wordcount for what is and isn't fair use. Full stop.

And just so you don't have to take my word over Anne Mini's, I give you the US Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html):

There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

Thank you, Empress.

ZeroFlowne
12-01-2008, 09:59 PM
There's something about the italic text of quotes and its placement outside the body of the work that makes it very skippable. I almost never read them.