View Full Version : Quoting/reading from fiction in a novel

08-28-2014, 08:02 AM
Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

One of the characters in my novel is a novelist. Other characters quote his work, and in one chapter, he gives a reading with longer excerpts. I am struggling to format this material. all quoted material is fictional too as i wrote it.

In dialogue, (" ") when others are quoting lines from his books: do direct quotes of his material get an extra ' ' or appear in italics, or does it just appear in regular text? surely i need to show it is a quote.

During his reading, where he is reading from his own novels, how do i format this? - do i have to show with ' ' it is a quote, as above, or just let him speak as normal, even it is a direct quote from his work?

there are also parts where people are simply reading from the books. and i quote longer chunks of the novels, do i skip the ' ' , use italics instead, do they get line breaks?

are there some good examples in famous works where these situations appear as a cross reference. - book parts within novels, etc.

thanks, EM

08-28-2014, 01:50 PM
I use italics. Not sure if that's okay? I don't really like these thingamajigs ' ', especially if lodged within quotations.

That's fine for nonfiction, IMO. But for a novel all those marks begin to make it seem like a textbook or something.

Again, my opinion.

Ken could be wrong, as he was quick to admit with some pomp.
"'To err is human,' as they say."

08-28-2014, 01:58 PM
[QUOTE=Ken;9048802]I use italics.

thanks for your input- do you have characters quoting works of fiction in dialogue, or reading from them out loud? or even reading them silently?

08-28-2014, 02:33 PM
Not really. Mine usually just quote one another. E.g. A husband quoting their wife.

I do use literary allusions, which might be something to consider instead of quoting material directly. If you suspect readers will be familiar with a quote from a novel, etc, then you can just have them paraphrase it instead or just not bother with marking the passage off as the quote is understood to be one.

Exiting the club with a woman's phone number, Bob exclaimed, "I came, I saw, I conquered!" Or something of the sort. (Hard coming up with examples on the spur of the moment.)

King Neptune
08-28-2014, 04:37 PM
I think that quotation marks would be correct, and, if it is a quote within dialogue, then treat as a quote within a quote "'reading'". If the author is reading his work, then it is still a quote and should be punctuated that way.

08-28-2014, 06:12 PM
There are rules for this, in general, and publishing house styles which may or may not follow those rules.

When a character's dialogue quotes something, you are correct to put the quoted material in single quotes, with its original capitalization but not necessarily its original sentence ending punctuation if the dialogue's sentence does not end:

Marie cleared her throat. "As Shakespeare said, 'Brevity is the soul of wit,' but you all know once I get talking, I'm never brief!"

Some publishers would have you use:

Marie cleared her throat. "As Shakespeare said, Brevity is the soul of wit, but you all know once I get talking, I'm never brief!"

If you have a publisher in mind, see how their books do it. If you do not, go with the first version, which is the existing rule.

For longer quotes, a couple of thoughts. First, are you sure you want to do that? Many readers, myself among them, start zoning out when there are long segments of quoted material uninterrupted by characters' actions, thoughts, or anything else.

But if it's what serves your work best, there are rules for that, too. The classic is to skip one line (meaning that in a double-spaced manuscript format, you'd skip three), then indent the quoted material one half inch from both the right and left margins, indenting each paragraph within the double indents normally. Start each quoted paragraph with an open quotation mark, and end only the final quote with a close-quotation mark. Skip another line and return to your normal margins.

Some publishing houses would rather see italics than those quotation marks, and of those, some will want the text double indented and others won't.

Maryn, hoping this helps

08-29-2014, 06:55 AM
thank you very much. most helpful.