Monday, January 4, 2010

Hey Waiter, I'll Have What She is Writing: Using Quotation in Your Book

Have you ever struggled with finding the right words to illustrate a point? On these occasions, integrating quotations into your book’s content can help bridge the gap between what you want to convey and how you want to be understood by the reader.
Quotations are used to rephrase a concept in a different light, to make a connection between something in the book and something previously not thought of as relating to the subject of the book, or simply to add emphasis and perspective to the subject matter in the book.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using quotations in order to maximize their benefit and avoid their pitfalls. First, the source of the quote matters. The source of the quote will convey the associations tied to that source. You might have run across an insightful quote that fits your story, but if it was uttered by Adolf Hitler, the quote will carry with it associations, actions, and history. And this might not (or might) be your intent.
Second, make sure that you understand what the connection is between the quotation and what within your work the quotation is supposed to connect with, so that the reader can make that connection. The connection does not have to be overt and literal (it is often more interesting if it is not literal), but the connection needs to be understandable.
Avoid the most obvious sources, such as Shakespeare and Mark Twain. While sometimes these will be the perfect sources; they can be perceived as uninventive.
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