1. sidtvicious
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    sidtvicious Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fictional Texts

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by sidtvicious, Nov 13, 2009.

    I'm working on a project right now, where my antagonist has come into possession of a rather twisted piece of religious text. I'm wondering if anyone in this forum has experience writing fragments of a text within your own piece. Any advice that you can give me will be much appreciated.
     
  2. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    The easiest thing would be to read some old religious texts, like the bible, and copy the style. Of course the problem is that a lot of new editions try and modernise the style and language, which i don't like, but even then you should be able to get an idea of what you want.

    The important thing is that the style of text within a text must be of a different tone than the prose around it. A good example of this is Hamlet, the passage that the player recites in Act II ('The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms black as his purpose did the night resemble...') is noticeably in a more epic vein even than the high tragic tone around it. As a result it retains its distinction from the normal dialogue of the play. Similarly, the worse thing that could happen would be if your religious text sounded just like the prose of your novel proper.
     
  3. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    I've just finished Aspley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey In The World, a historical account of Scott's last journey to the South Pole.

    That uses a lot of sources gathered from a lot of different places. Stylistically they're different (e.g. clinical for field notes and observations), in perspective they're different (e.g. first person, for diary entries), and they use a lot of documentation (e.g. co-ordinates in the middle of passages) Because, of course, it's all real stuff so if a note is needed to make things make sense to the author later they'll put it in there. The main thing of note about source or personal text is that it isn't polished to a mirror shine.

    Format wise, the passages are often in a slightly small font and set in on both sides to imply that they are extracts. Additionally Cherry-Garrard puts * in and makes notes on the texts often from his own documents or that of his colleagues.

    My advice, read a selection of resources and get a feel for them, then dropping something of a similar vein into your own work will come more easily.
     
  4. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Take a look at the websites with the Dead Sea Scrolls on them. They are full of the fragmented texts considered biblical apocrypha. They aren't recognized by most "official" churches (Catholic/protestant), but are writings of a similar time period and many are only bits and pieces, like the Book of Mary Magdalen. As far as how you would physically write it into a book, you use ellipsis ... and [brackets] to specify partial sentences and partial words, at least that is how I have seen it done.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see either of those as good [or even acceptable] ways to set off 'different' text from the regular narrative... the standard way to include sentences of quoted text is with a block indent... for just a word or two, it should only be in " " as it's just a quote, after all, regardless of what language it's in...
     
  6. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Really Maia? I've seen it that way in several (fiction and non-fiction) books with ellipsis, brackets, and even dashes to show a missing segment of the sentence being quoted. Usually words in brackets are assumed words that fit what the sentence is saying, ellipsis show full missing parts, and dashes occasionally show missing parts too. I'd have to go back through some of the books I'm thinking of to be fully sure, but I know I've seen it that way in published books. Obviously non-fiction referring real life stuff might be different in comparison to fiction, but I know for certain that non-fiction uses that style.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    but we're discussing only fiction here... and regardless of what a publisher's house style may be, the ms being submitted should be done with proper punctuation and standard styling techniques, not stray from it, if the writer doesn't want to be seen as clueless in that regard...

    once one has some bestsellers under his/her belt, then idiosyncratic styling can be gotten away with, but new, unknown writers shouldn't try it...
     

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