1. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Avoiding quotes within quotes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Nicholas C., Oct 19, 2011.

    My newest story idea features a rather long part (probably a third of a novel-length work) in which the protagonist confronts the antagonist in regards to a discovery about who the antagonist really is. This leads to a story within the story, which is akin to a long flashback (think Interview with the Vampire where Lestat is recounting his history to Danny). One of the things I disliked about that particular example were the constant quotes-within-quotes where the character is recalling dialogue.

    The only option I can think of is to have the book in three parts, where this particular part (the second one) would switch from third person to first person. Is this generally acceptable or is it likely to cause a whiplash thing?
     
  2. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    If it is written well, I see no problem with it. It actually sounds interesting to me.
     
  3. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Thanks, that's encouraging. Especially considering that I haven't even really thought too much of it out yet. :p
     
  4. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    If it was a really long part of the story, you could just switch from 3rd person to 1st person if all that was going on was this guy telling the story. As long as you make it obvious (page breaks, context clues that this guy is about to tell a story)... I think it works.
     
  5. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Another technique you may use is to have a scene or chapter break a little ways into the dialogue and switch to a limited 3rd POV narrative of the character's recollection (without the constant dialogue). An example of this comes to mind in Stephen King's Dark Tower series with Father Callaghan's stories in Wolves of the Calla. The character begins telling his story and the other characters interact with him, and slightly into that there is a break, after which the narrative picks up the tale as if it were a flashback and not being told by a character. Just a thought.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you're considering is done all the time... so, as jh said, if it's written well, it should work for you...
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have a look at Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which is almost entirely a story within a story and handles it seamlessly.
     
  8. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Thanks. I've heard of the work, but have never got around to reading it. I will check it out.
     

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