1. Syn Opsis
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    Syn Opsis Member

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    No-Quotes Style

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Syn Opsis, Oct 26, 2009.

    A couple of my favorite authors use a no-quotes style of writing. It takes a little time to get used to but eventually you get the hang of it. At least in my case, I did.

    My questions to the forum are:
    1. Do you think the no-quotes style is distracting?
    2. Would using this style be a barrier to establishing contacts (agents, publishers, etc).

    Thank you for any insight you wish to share!
     
  2. Dermit
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    Dermit Member

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    I don't like it. I've seen it used a few times (often in association with no dialog tags, which is a whole 'nother can of worms in my opinion) and I'm always left wondering why.

    What do quotes hurt? They're usually completely transparent to the reader, serve to deflect the occasional bit of confusion, and as far as I can tell, harm nothing.

    Is dialog somehow more effective when the reader may or may not be sure if they're actually reading dialog or not?

    I don't get it!
     
  3. Syn Opsis
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    Syn Opsis Member

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    I must confess, I don't get it either, but we're talking about some heavyweights here (Cormack McCarthy, Edward P. Jones to name a couple) with ultimate writing credentials. If there are shortcomings in this style, would these great authors continue use it? Unless, offset by some greater gain? I'm curious...
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I am assuming you mean that there is actual dialogue, but that it is not enclosed within quotation marks, yes?

    No. Absolutely not. There is no way I would purchase such a book.

    Again, assuming I've gotten it correct as to what you mean, my question is why? Why would the author ask the reader to deal with this affectation? This reaks to me of the aurthor suffering from look at me! syndrome. I wouldn't want my readers to look at me, the author. I want them to look at the story and everything going on within.

    No. Without reserve in the least. No.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Authors with lots of credentials can get away with crap that would land any writing hopeful's MS in the reject pile faster than Paris Hilton can land on her back.
     
  6. Syn Opsis
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    Syn Opsis Member

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    Yes, that's correct - no quotes indicating dialog

    Wonder how he sold his editor on that first time!
     
  7. Syn Opsis
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    Syn Opsis Member

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    Some write w/o quotes but in the same format, (attached) others I've read just keep to a standard paragraph form, which, to me, is very distracting.

    Snippet below from Cormac McCarthy's "The Crossing"
     

    Attached Files:

  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    This is exactly what I aim for when I write...I don't want my readers pretending that what I'm writing is real life, I want them to alwas remember that this is a text and they need to think about what's going on, what the meaning is, why things are being written in a particular way. I don't want them to drift through it too easily.

    I've experimented with a 'no quotes' style, although it suits my writing quite well I think (there is virtually no dialogue in much of my work). And while I've read McCarthy, I have to say it was Elfriede Jelinek who showed me the way to do it myself. I'm madly in love with her style...
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Simply speaking, it's wrong. That is to say, it violates the standards that nearly all of the publishing world adheres to.

    Cormac McCarthy thumbs his nose at standards. But the truth of it is, he can get away with it because he is already established as a writer who sells books. A lot of his popularity is due to his rebellious writing style - he is the patron saint of those whe don't wish to learn the rules of writing. Imitate him at your own risk.

    On a separate note, this site requires you identify the source of all copyrighted materials. Please do so with the text snapshot in your previous post.
     
  10. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Sounds completely pointless. Like Wrey, I wouldn't even read it.

    I'm also curious as to why. . but only a little. I think maybe Wrey has it right. Many writers want to be different for the sake of being different. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, I suppose, but it drives some people over the edge. Well, probably a lot of people, but most of 'em don't get published. It seems like such a petty and amateur mistake. . . it baffles me when great writers pull these stunts.

    And that's why I'm curious. Like the OP, I'm usually inclined to think there's a good reason behind such things. But in this case, it's just so. . . stupid.:eek: Sorry. It's like doing away with commas or periods. Punctuation exists for a reason.
     
  11. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Being honest, this site is the only place I know (besides, apparently, the publishing world) that has a problem with this 'no-quotes' style. Books by these authors sell well, win awards and are widely considered to be great literature and studied at academic institutions worldwide.

    So, in the spirit of defending the 'no-quotes' style, here are a few of the reasons I like to read and write it.

    There is a marked aesthetic difference achieved by the removal of those cluttering (and, really, rarely clarifying) marks from the page. It visually echoes and reinforces the subtlety and minimalism of the prose. It emphasizes the letters, the words, which are what is really important, rather than letting the reader fall into the text and ignore the author completely. It lends text a stripped-down elegance that makes it more focussed, more direct. It also denies the creation of a barrier between the internal and the external, which in my opinion is far more realistic than having dialogue enclosed in speech marks and thoughts not. Writing without quote marks tends to make everything internal. Action, introspection and speech are blended together into a single, unified aesthetic where the authorial voice is at its most precise and powerful.

    Disagree as you will, but I really don't think its fair to just label it wrong and worthless.
     
  12. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Looking at that, its pretty clear that that style of writing really has no place in popular fiction, which is perhap why there is such an aversion to it on this site? It refutes the claim that the reader is the most important element of a text, and that writers should aim to entertain. I, personally, regard writing more as art than entertainment, and perhaps that is why I am so fond of this style, and explains why so many are not.
     
  13. Syn Opsis
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    Syn Opsis Member

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    There seems to be a division along the lines of style rather than formatting?
    arron89, you are like the Monty Python character who takes both sides of an argument!

    Note to admin: Apologies for not labeling the text shot more clearly. I have edited the entry.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I wouldn't read it. I didn't even finish reading the sample jpg, it was that bad. Way to distracting and it serves no purpose other than to rebel and confuse readers. I hate wondering what I'm reading until I finish a sentence, or I don't realize I am now reading dialog until half way through the sentence.

    Why anyone would write this way, why any publisher would publish a book like this, I have no clue. I want to buy rights too all such books and force them to be reprinted with quotes. LOL
     
  15. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    1. For me, No.
    2. Yes, unless it is literary fiction.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Rebels walk alone.
    Publishers prefer writers who appeal to the masses.

    Being a rebel has a romantic appeal, but it's a damned lonely life with much less respect than you'd like.

    Successful writers don't break rules for the sake of breaking rules. They only break a rule when they know the effect it will produce, and are consciously choosing to create that effect. Even than, they are taking a risk that is proportional to the solidity of te rule they are breaking.

    The rules of dialogue punctuation are held in high regard, because they separate two levels of communication: author to reader vs character to character.
     
  17. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    And I refuse to listen to people with accents until they speak proper English :p

    Seriously though, you're missing out on some great books.
     
  18. Syn Opsis
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    Syn Opsis Member

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    Ohh, I like this!

    The power of a good writer can convince you one way or the other, despite your life-long convictions!
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I would think it was the author (and the publisher for that matter) missing out on some really great sales.

    This quotelessness doesn't add to the actual reading. It's not part of setting the tone or the pace. Not that I can see anyway.

    It's not like the poetry of E.E. Cummings who also broke convention in some significant ways in the visual presentation of his poetry. What he did was done with purpose and intent. It was beautifully crafted to temper the pace and impact of the words, thus altering the read in a way that gives the read a new facet.

    This isn't like the impressionistic painters who broke with convention in the visual presentation of their masterpieces and created a new kind of emotion and depth in painting where the beholder was now asked to play a part in what was happening in the canvas, thus bringing of themselves their own unique and personal perspective on the work of art.

    This quotelessness is just silly egotism. It screams, "I am such a bloody huge name in the world of writing that I can make you, the reader, give over your cold hard cash for a book printed in reverse! Kneel and give praise."
     
  20. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You're so sceptical! For me its exactly like that. It drastically alters the aesthetic of the work, as well as the tone. So the work of McCarthy isn't at all separated from e.e. cummings; they both do it deliberately to produce a very specific and very controlled technique that does have a huge impact on the way the book reads.

    The elitism is only in the perception of elitism. It doesn't make the text any less accessible unless you allow yourself to think it makes the text less accessible.
     
  21. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    ROTFLMAO! That says all that needs to be said on this subject.
     
  22. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    "1. Do you think the no-quotes style is distracting?"

    I think it's stupid. Quotes make it easier for a casual reader to flow through the story. If I am forced to 'work' at my pleasure reading, I'll toss the book in the trash...reminds me too much of reading mandatory crap in college.

    "2. Would using this style be a barrier to establishing contacts (agents, publishers, etc)."

    A neophyte writer using an avant-gard personal style of writing produces a short hang-time to the lit agent's trash can.
     
  23. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Again, I think this is the crux of the argument. If you are reading for easy entertainment, then you will probably hate the 'no-quotes' thing because its basically the author saying "this isn't about you, its about the text". Its an indicator that entertainment isn't high on the author's list of priorities (not in itself, but as an indicator that the author is less concerned about easy reading than they are about controlling style more freely).

    The fact that the writers we are effectively discussing here are writers of literary fiction is not coincidental...
     
  24. Syn Opsis
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    Personally, I was thrown when I read my first Cormac McCarthy novel. But it didn't take long and I was hooked - on the author's style. It suits him. His stories have an edge I haven't found anywhere else. I was curious at first about the 'no quotes' style of his, but that passed and I was totally absorbed in his books. Read every last one of them. So, to me there was no barrier.

    But, you don't see many other writers using that style. And I agree with those that say, stay clear if you're looking to get picked up - no need to turn off the agent from the git-go.

    I'm enjoying the debate!
    Many hard opinions - on both sides. Interesting.
     

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