Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Who said what?

When it comes to quotation marks, I automatically use double marks (“ ”) to indicate direct speech because that’s what I was taught to do many years ago, but I know some writers and publishers prefer single marks. It’s one of the style points I check before submitting work to a particular magazine.

But it has never occurred to me to leave out quotation marks altogether.

So when I started reading The First Person and Other Stories by Ali Smith, and saw that she doesn’t use any type of quotation marks, I thought it was going to be hard going. But I quickly got used to her style – she uses the other conventional punctuation marks – and I only had to re-read a couple of sentences in the whole book because I briefly lost track of who was saying what.

I enjoyed Ali Smith’s stories, but this lack of quotation marks has left me with a dilemma. When I send off my next story should I delete the quotation marks?

If I do, will the editor say, Great! Here’s an exciting, modern writer, or, “This person obviously doesn’t know the basics of writing. I’m not going to waste my time reading beyond the first paragraph.”


Kate Morris said...

Hi Linda, thanks for visiting my blog. I am a writer too, and a reader. I think definitely keep the conventional punctuation marks in your work. Anything that make life for the reader easier is good. I think Ali Smith's short stories would have driven me MAD, without knowing who was speaking, when.

Anonymous said...

Definitely keep the quotation marks! Keep to the rules unless you know the publication accepts 'experimental' writing.

Linda D said...

I agree, Kate & Sally, and those 'old-fashioned' rules are so ingrained that I'd find it difficult to remember to break them.