1. TeeBee2011
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    TeeBee2011 Member

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    Speech marks or not?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TeeBee2011, Dec 7, 2011.

    Hi,

    My story contains a magical pen that communicates with humans by writing unaided on paper. When I put what the pen is writing into my story, should it be within speech marks?.

    The pen scribbled on the paper "you have to go. It's your time".
    The pen scribbled on the paper 'you have to go. It's your time'

    Thanks
     
  2. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    It's like the pen is speaking, isn't it? So I'd use double quotes, not single quotes.
     
  3. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    This is more of a question than an answer.
    If you were to go with the thought that the pen was speaking, then would you punctuate with a coma after paper?
    And should you capitalize pen?
    The Pen scribbled on the paper, "You have to go. It's your time."
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like Tom Riddle's diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? It might be worth looking at how Rowling handled it. Sorry, I can't get at my daughter's copy at the moment.
     
  5. alyosha
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    alyosha New Member

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    You can do whatever you want.
     
  6. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    What I recommend is to clearly mark it, but in a different way than speech.

    For example, with my telepathic characters, I mark deliberate telepathic communication with '<>' as in <Come on> (I was influenced by Animorphs) and thoughts they read that weren't deliberately sent by italics and underlining as in this is weird.

    So figure out something really distinctive to mark what the pen says, but not double quotes. When I see double quotes I 'hear' the phrase being said, and I'd constantly have to remind myself that the pen isn't speaking aloud. If you use your own marker for it, then to your readers that marker will come to mean that particular mode of communication.
     
  7. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you are quoting, word-for-word, what the pen writes, I believe double quotes would be the proper punctuation. It has nothing to do with whether or not the words are spoken. For that reason, I don't feel as if the quotation marks imply the phrase is spoken aloud. It's the same as quoting what is seen on a road sign, note, open book, video screen, or any other written/typed/displayed message.

    Additionally, if you're aiming to express it as dialogue, there should be a comma after "paper," as AmyHolt suggested. If this pen is communicating with people, treating its writings as dialogue is probably the way to go.
     
  8. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    The OP's question is not about what s/he can do, but what s/he should do. As such, "you can do whatever you want" doesn't help in the slightest.
     
  9. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I love an Animorphs reference... the book series that got me into reading as a kid.

    As to the question, you can literally get away with whatever as long as its clear to the reader what's going on. You can do < > or " " or give the Pen his own italicized or bold font. I think single quotes or parenthesis might be bad because those usually are never used to indicate communication between two things.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Usually" or "never"? ;)

    Something that's rarely used might be just the trick. Something like the approach being used in this thread.
     
  11. agentkirb
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    Ok I kind of said it in a way that was ambiguous... I just didn't want to flat out say never only to have someone come back and say "well, I've seen it done"!

    I'll address your second line though. Parenthesis shouldn't be used for it IMO because in a story they are mostly used as an aside to what is currently being written. I can't really think of an example off the top of my head, but I'm sure we've seen them before so hopefully you know what I'm talking about. Single quotes I think would be a bad idea just because they look so much like double quotes that it's pointless. I only use single quotes within a double quote (like the guy a few posts above points out). I would go with either double quotes, or italics (or both even... ha, there's your example of parenthesis being used), or something crazy like brackets like in Animorphs.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, you should enclose what's written in quotation marks... and not italics...

    amsterdam:
    in the uk, singles are correctly used for speech/quotes/written matter, whereas in the us [and the netherlands?] doubles are correct...
     
  13. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Doesn't really matter, a publisher will adjust the single to double quote or vice versa. Just put quotes around them that signify speech, as the way a pen 'speaks' is by writing it down.
     
  14. AmsterdamAssassin
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    Doesn't really matter, a publisher will adjust the single to double quote or vice versa. Just put quotes around them that signify speech, as the way a pen 'speaks' is by writing it down.
     

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