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Narrator switching to quote

Mike-Kaye

Writing technical documentation this question never comes up: Is it proper for a narrator to slide into a quote? Two examples from my planned Generous Offers 2….

ONE
They were anxious to try the idea. I wisely suggested starting with one shirt "so we don't make the same mistake on two shirts at once." That was good advice because we quickly learned that none of us knew what we were doing and my kitchen scissors made a mess when cutting cloth. "Tomorrow we will go to a fabric store and buy what we need."

TWO [at an overtly sexual nudist resort]
The topic at breakfast was only slightly about the seven new faces but mostly about the three cougars who had left yesterday. Will pointed out that "they basically demanded sex from Mike, James, and me. Not knowing the local protocol we let them fuck us. They walked away saying 'that was fun.' I may be young but I'm nobody's sex toy. If we had known the protocol we would have told them to fuck themselves with a stick."

The software engineer in me can't imagine readers getting confused with
…one shirt first "so we don't…
or
Will pointed out that "they basically…

I suppose the CMOS might disagree. But I want the reader to know which words were spoken.

Should I rework these paragraphs?

awnlee jawking

@Mike-Kaye

I would class ONE as reported speech and TWO as direct speech, and punctuate them accordingly.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Mike-Kaye

For example #2 I see no reason to not use dialogue, i.e.

Will pointed out, "They basically ...


For example #1 I would use single quote marks to show the person was quoting themself. I would not use a comma to introduce the quote using BrE, but I have a suspicion one is required in AmE.

Replies:   Mike-Kaye
REP

@Mike-Kaye

In ONE, the quote doesn't sound like a quote to me. It sounds like the narrator talking, so I would add a semi-colon and delete the quotes so it reads - I wisely suggested starting with one shirt; so we don't make the same mistake on two shirts at once.

In TWO, it sounds like Will's observation rather than a quote. I would just delete the quotation marks.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

I think AJ and I agree on this one.

He used the terminology 'direct speech/reported speech' meaning the same as my 'dialogue/quote'.

Ross at Play

@REP

The OP says, "I want the reader to know which words were spoken."

Your suggestions are not invalid, but they don't give the OP the how-to answer they are looking for.

Ernest Bywater

I often use single apostrophes to indicate a quotation within a paragraph or a dialogue. Also, you can show it as a block quotation if you wish to.

example of the first:

Bob was thinking about Fred saying, 'I don't care what happens to the place,' while he looks over the building.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Mike-Kaye

Why quotes in the first one? Who is the narrator quoting? Himself? Don't need quotes.

You need quotes in the second one because the narrator is quoting Will. I wouldn't write "Will pointed out." I'd write it as "Will said," and capitalize the "t" in "they."

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Who is the narrator quoting? Himself? Don't need quotes.

There's no reason someone can't quote themselves. In fact, around here, I find that's the best way to have something intelligent to say. :-)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

I wouldn't write "Will pointed out." I'd write it as "Will said,"


The way I saw it was "Will pointed out" leads into the narrator describing Will's encounter, so quotes aren't needed. I agree with you that if it were changed to "Will said," then it would need quotes. Either would be good.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

The way I saw it was "Will pointed out" leads into the narrator describing Will's encounter, so quotes aren't needed.


Except within the quotes was "…Mike, James, and me." I saw "me" as WIll so the narrator was quoting Will.

Replies:   REP
Mike-Kaye

@Ross at Play

Will pointed out, "They basically ...


I like it. Will speaks until the end of the paragraph.

REP

@Switch Blayde

I saw "me" as WIll so the narrator was quoting Will.


Yeah, that is a good point. When I reread the rest of the paragraph, it is easy to see it as a quote. He would have to add a comma (i.e., out, ")

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I would class ONE as reported speech and TWO as direct speech, and punctuate them accordingly.

Exactly. A better example paragraph would be:

They were anxious to try the idea. "I suggest starting with one shirt, as one wise tailor once said: 'so we don't make the same mistake on two shirts at once'." That was good advice as we quickly learned that none of us knew what we were doing and my kitchen scissors made a mess when cutting cloth. Tomorrow we will go to a fabric store and buy what we need."

The alternating double/single quotes denote what's quoted and what's directly stated.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I often use single apostrophes to indicate a quotation within a paragraph or a dialogue. Also, you can show it as a block quotation if you wish to.

I typically reserve block, or indented, quotes for 'external sources' (i.e. something from someone not present. So I'd reserve the block quotes for either written notes, signs read in passing, or TV or radio broadcasts. It's 'offset' to denote the information is coming from someone not involved in the dialogue.

Of course, that opens up questions when a group is discussing details over the radio. But then, the distinction between 'local' and 'distant' speakers is entirely my own, so use it yourself or not, but I find it helps keeps things clearer.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

There's no reason someone can't quote themselves. In fact, around here, I find that's the best way to have something intelligent to say. :-)

Ha-ha. Vincent says, "Once again, Ross, you're full of crap!"

But seriously, I do agree with you.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I typically reserve block, or indented, quotes for 'external sources' (i.e. something from someone not present. So I'd reserve the block quotes for either written notes, signs read in passing, or TV or radio broadcasts. It's 'offset' to denote the information is coming from someone not involved in the dialogue.


I agree with all of that, and that's how I usually do it. However, I felt I needed to mention the option because I knew if I didn't I'd get jumped on from a great height by the senior acolyte of Chicago deity.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

But seriously, I do agree with you.

I'm sure you do say, "Quoting myself is 'the best way to have something intelligent to say'." :-)

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

"Quoting myself is 'the best way to have something intelligent to say'."


See how you ended that with — say'."

I do that too, but it's supposed to be — say.'"

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I do that too, but it's supposed to be — say.'"

If I was writing in AmE I would use — say.' "

What I used is acceptable, if not recommended, in BrE.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I make a distinction between quoted words that are essential for the meaning of my sentence and quoted words introduced by my sentence.

This is an example of the first:

Quoting myself is 'the best way to have something intelligent to say'.

With that the only additional punctuation I use is single quote marks before and after showing words that come from somewhere else.

An example of the second would be:

Quoting myself, 'the best way to have something intelligent to say.'

I punctuate that as I would for dialogue except for using single instead of double quote marks.

I think this style satisfies keet's comments elsewhere about wishing punctuation was more logical. I pretty sure I've seen that style recommended in BrE style guides. If not, I'd say it satisfies Strunk's dictum of obeying rules 'unless you know what you are doing is better'.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

If I was writing in AmE I would use — say.' "


Is it legit to put the space there? That makes it look much better.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Is it legit to put the space there? That makes it look much better.

I distinctly recall seeing that recommended in CMOS: that's where I learned how to do it.

I just tried to find it again but couldn't.

So, if you're prepared to take my word for it, yes it is legit.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I distinctly recall seeing that recommended in CMOS:


I thought it was a half-space for print books. Not that it comes up much in fiction.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I thought it was a half-space for print books.

That may be so. I can only guarantee I saw something in CMOS and decided a space was best for SOL.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I'm sure you do say, "Quoting myself is 'the best way to have something intelligent to say'."

Nah, quoting OTHER people is often my only claim to brilliance. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Is it legit to put the space there? That makes it look much better.

It largely depends on where you're using it, and the references about punctuating em-dashes reflect this. First off, using the em-dash like this is entirely a fiction writer's standard, as few non-fiction sources use it (they use the simpler parentheses instead). Beyond that, if you're using print, it's preferred you use no spaces, but if you're using it in newspapers and magazines, the preference is to pad the em-dash with spaces. Though this makes little space, since those sources are primarily concerned with saving space, it's mostly a hold over from the days when newspapers used "space dash space". Now that they use the correctly formatted em-dash, the space required to include it is easily three or four normal spaces (em's).

Once again, CMOS is primarily directed at non-fictional uses, and encompasses both newspapers, books and periodicals, so they're trying to cover all their bases with a single 'rule'.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I thought it was a half-space for print books. Not that it comes up much in fiction.

You've got it backwards, the em-dash is primarily used in fiction, and using it to denote interrupted speech is entirely limited to fictional uses. The spaces surrounding the em-dash was a holdover from the old days before newspapers (and reporters) had ready access to formal em-dashes, and the rules governing it should be catching up, though I wouldn't hold my breath. But again, in print books, the em-dash does NOT include spaces, but it does in newspapers, magazines and most non-fiction publishers, so it's understandable many here assume that format is typical (it is for the majority of uses).

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

First off, using the em-dash like this

That's not what Switch was asking. He asked if it was legit for me to insert a space between consecutive single and double quote marks.

@Switch Blayde
I do that too, but it's supposed to be — say.'"
@Ross at Play
If I was writing in AmE I would use — say.' "

I said I couldn't find it now, but I recalled learning to do that from something I read in CMOS.

He said he thought CMOS suggests a half-space in printed books. I don't recall ever seeing a half-space mentioned in CMOS but it sounds like the kind of "solution" they are inclined to concoct.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

That may be so. I can only guarantee I saw something in CMOS and decided a space was best for SOL.

It's even more so for SOL (from Lazeez's perspective), since most SOL authors are either using a simple dash, or double dashes. However, if you're going for authenticity, I'd drop the surrounding spaces, but in the end, at this point at least, the guidelines are optional based upon your background.

P.S. Years ago, when I first got into publishing marks, I did fairly extensive research on it, and the guidelines have evolved since then (mainly for spaces surrounding ellipses when ending a sentence). I fully expect these guidelines to evolve fairly rapidly over time, as there is NO space-saving considerations for newspapers and magazines, and anyone can now add in the proper formatting via simple html commands, but as often happens, opposition to change occurs slowly, as people stick to what they've always done.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

That's not what Switch was asking. He asked if it was legit for me to insert a space between consecutive single and double quote marks.

Ah! Sorry, I clearly misunderstood, as the last message I saw was detailing the use of the em-dash.

In terms of that, I've honestly seen it done both ways. There's really no justifiable reason for the extra space, but it clearly makes the quote marks easier to read. However, that limitation doesn't exist if you use smart quotes, which every publisher and outlet uses, since you can clearly see which is a single or double quote from the angle of the various marks.

In that case, it may still be an issue on SOL for those authors not posting in html, but if you insert the proper html codes, or simply post including 'curly quotes', SOL faithfully displays with without any troubles. So make of that what you will.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

you can clearly see which is a single or double quote from the angle of the various marks

That won't work on forums, but I wouldn't be bothered by a straight apostrophe beside a curly double mark in a story.

Are you saying that works here provided I post with html instead of txt?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ross at Play


That won't work on forums, but I wouldn't be bothered by a straight apostrophe beside a curly double mark in a story.


Why mix them. All that does it show users you're not consistent in applying standards. Either you turn on smart quotes across the board, or you're stuck adding them one-at-a-time, in which case you're bet off not even bothering, as you'll undoubtedly miss dozens.

Again, font designers take these things into consideration when they design fonts, so this isn't a unique problem. Instead, it's based on twenty-year old default fonts installed on most operating systems which have never been updated. Smart quotes are designed with the necessary spacing required to make them readable.

That said (there's always a gotcha, isn't there), MS WORD and many sites refuse to parse smart quotes the way they do normal quotes. As a result, I often find that my published books continually break a final quote mark, dumping it on a separate line since it doesn't think it has any relation to the text characters it's surrounding. Why this has never been resolved over the past ten years is completely beyond my comprehension.

Are you saying that works here provided I post with html instead of txt?


Sadly, no. While it works perfectly for posted stories, for some odd reason, Lazeez hasn't implemented the same code for the Forums. While the forums support the vast majority of html commands accepted by the site, SOL continues substituting strait quotes for the html curly quotes in the Forum posts.

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