Skip to content

Quotation marks

Jg
Jg
1 min read

There's something wonderful about a story that dispenses with quotation marks. As I mentioned before, I've just finished In the Quick, by Kate Hope Day. Not a quotation mark to be found in Day's novel. Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Kent Haruf's Plainsong. Severance, by Ling Ma; Normal People, by Sally Rooney. (There's a whole Goodreads list called Books Without Quotation Marks, in fact.)

I took this approach with my first few self-published novels. The reader reviews for those books seem divided between people reviewing the story I wrote, and people reviewing the missing quotation marks. (Some readers even believe this to be an editing mistake, I've learned.)

No one can please everyone. What I love about the absence of quotation marks is the immediacy it brings to a story. How it takes a work of fiction and seems to anchor it, to ground it. But I love, too, how it can change the tone and shape of a novel. The Road feels utterly haunted, not least of all because there are no quotes around the characters' dialogue; it truly captures the sense of how shell-shocked these people are, stumbling through a world that has no structure any longer. Plainsong, in a different but similar way, brings to life a world that is unadorned and raw and honest.

So far, at least, The Dark Age has no quotation marks.

reading listprocessthe dark age

Jg


Related Posts

New year, new books

For a number of years now, I've tracked my reading on this site. Sometimes I have a grand goal; sometimes I just read whatever grabs my attention. My goal for 2022, for example, was to read mostly books by women or non-binary authors. (See how I did.) Reading with a

Favorite reads, 2022 edition

Every year, I track my reading habits on this web site. And every year, right about now, I take stock and consider which books meant the most to me. In 2022, I read 98 books. That's fewer than 2021, but still a nice, solid number. I've written two novels over

For every novel, a font of its own

I've been a designer for nearly as long as I've been a writer, and there's little I love more than a great font. Which is why it can be painful to encounter manuscript submission guidelines that require something like 12pt double-spaced Courier or Times New Roman. Don't get me wrong,