1. Wolmas
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    Wolmas Member

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    A Question Regarding Quotation Marks

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Wolmas, Sep 10, 2016.

    Hello,



    I have an embarrassing question. Over the last five weeks I have been working on a story that is getting longer. The story is a third-person narrative. Initially I had conceived a tone to the effect of "Someone reading as though It's a children's story, but with adult themes", except there was no 'actual' person narrating in the story. Recently an idea had occurred to me where the story can be someone - a character in the story - reading the very story, or recounting it, to children in a school. My problem is, I want to be vague about it being someone reading a story within a story, and not reveal it until the end, for plot reasons.

    The stumbling block for me has to do with quotation marks. One of my problems is sort of transitioning while holding onto continuity, everything the story teller is saying is in fact the contents of the book, which he's reading to kids - until the final paragrapb at the end, where he’s addressed and thanked for speaking in front of the class. How do I handle the quotation marks? Should I have the beginning of the story in double quotation marks, and the dialogue of the story-within-a-story in single quotation marks, then close the double quotation marks in the end when the story teller is done reading the book? That is one idea, though I am not sure it would be the correct approach. The answer might be right in my brain, but I cannot find it at the moment.

    Then there are other conflicts, such as changing certain parts of the story being read to be side comments by the voluntary reader, but I won’t broach that right now.

    Thanks and regards,

    Thomas
     
  2. Wolmas
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    Wolmas Member

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    In hopes of finding a solution to this stumbling block, I'm going to post an example, though not an excerpt from the story.



    "I'm going to tell you about Sally. This is the story of her life, but not from beginning to end. I'll drop you off around the middle.....

    'Sally!' Meet Savannah, she has just arrived home from school.

    [end example]





    Okay, so the narrator is reading this story to children, which is why I didn't close the double quotation. From the beginning of this book (my story) he is reading to children until the final page of my book. Any 'side comment' that seems like narration is actually all in the story being read to the children. For dialogue within the story (being read), would the single quotations be acceptable? The reader/narrator doesn't say anything outside the book that he's reading until the final page of this story (the one I'm writing).
     
  3. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    You're not going to put the whole story in quotes. I would just use them for the story in the story when people are talking, especially if you don't plan on saying that someone is telling a story to the end. That, however, I do see as a problem. It doesn't seem like that's much of a surprise ending so why are you keeping it a secret throughout the whole story. Does it have to be a story within a story? If it does, you can't wait until the end to reveal that's what's happening.
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to tell you about Sally. This is the story of her life, but not from beginning to end. I'll drop you off in around the middle.....

    "Sally!" Meet Greeted Savannah, she who has just arrived home from school...

    ...and after all that, Sally and Savannah never spoke to each other ever again.

    "That's an awfully sad story, Mr. Parker."
    "Yes, Mary, and I hope that you children can learn a lesson from it." I looked around the shining faces that looked up at me, hoping that my daughter's mistake would truly be an example for them to avoid.
     
  5. Shnette
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    Shnette Member

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    I agree with deadrats' first part. No quotes for the outer story; only use for the inner story.
    I think the second part would be a surprise if you can pull it off. If you get to a point where you reveal the storyteller and introduce them by using a first person perspective. NOT in quotation though because it's part of the outer story.
     
  6. Wolmas
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    Wolmas Member

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    Haha, yes I realize my example was flawed in the grammatical sense, the phrasing, etc. Before my second post in this thread, I had just read some of the "dos and don'ts" of story writing that you provided me. That is something I will address when revising/editing the story, once it is finished.







    i appreciate the optimism. I'm hoping I'll be able to stick with this idea that came to me, not unlike a weed-induced thought that seems good at the time, but later I see it for what it is. This one I still want to use, and no, it did not enter my mind while toking. I think it will work, if I can find a way to make it work. - That is exactly what I have to do, work. See, I posted here looking for an easy answer, but to find what I'm looking for, I'm going to have to experience wonderfully odd moments where I sit at a library (or book store) and read children's stories in order to get the tone I'm looking for, while hearing little girls ask their mothers "Mommy, why is that man sitting on a giraffe chair in the kid's zone?". Also I will have to do research and catch up on epistolary novels and such, find out how this very thing I'm trying to incorporate has been done. Or, if it ihasn't, due to rules, what I can do to break the rules legibly. First, I must do the fun part - finish the damn story. Afterwards, I'll have to find out how to make it work, in accordance to the form I'm attempting to make it. I believe it may be worth the effort. As previously said, I'll have to finish the 'fun' part, then do the real work. if worse comes to worst, it goes the way it was originally intended. However, I am very stubborn, it's in my genes.








    Regarding your first sentence - that is exactly why I want to execute this idea, I think it will be a good addition, if well-received, it would require a re-read due to the reader (the reader in the story). Thanks for the information . As said, I will have to do research.
     

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