Sunday, June 28, 2009

To Quote or Not to Quote...

A while back I was speaking with a friend who writes, but not really with professional aspirations (which is still good. I don’t care what your goals are for writing if you love it!). She asked if I planned to add quotes to my book. At first I wasn’t sure what she meant. I thought she meant like a foreword or like some song lyrics at the beginning that may capture the meaning of my book.

She actually meant a quote at the beginning of each chapter—something that may foreshadow the plot, the heart of the character, or the main purpose of the chapter. I had to think about that for a moment. First, I don’t know that many quotes that would convey the meaning of all 25 chapters of my book. I don’t read a lot of poetry, nor do I write much (despite how fantastic my mother and my sister thinks my poems are), so I didn’t think I could even come up with 25 places to quote from. Granted, they don’t all need to come from poems, they could just be quotations from people that resonate with my story.

Then I started thinking about the books that I’ve read that have quotations introducing each chapter.

Tithe, by Holly Black and Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr are just two that I can pull right off the top of my head. Even though I remember that they both quoted people, stories and maybe even songs at the beginning of each chapter, I couldn’t tell you what any of the quotes were about. I never read one of them. Well, I think I at least read or tried to read one, but I found that it pulled me out of the story to stop and read a quotation that I may or may not get the relevance of at that moment. Most of the time I barely stop to read chapter titles (even though I prefer naming my chapters as opposed to simply numbering them). This in no way means that I think Black and Marr should not have used the quotes in the beginning of each of their chapters, it’s their book, they can do what they want, (like they care what I think-lol). And this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the books. I did, very much, and that’s why I couldn’t waste time reading a quote because I was too busy enjoying the book!

So the short answer to this question is, No, I would not add quotations to my chapters. Now if one day I write something with a heavy lyrical pulse, maybe I would quote some songs since music resonates with me more than poetry. And I can certainly think of 25 songs that would speak to the feelings I want to convey in each of my chapter.

2 comments:

Suzanne Casamento said...

I agree with you about chapter quotes pulling you out of the story. I've had the same experience.

But I really like your idea about song quotes. Although getting permission to use them might be tricky...

rosepddle said...

There's a Linkin Park song that I think would work well with my current ms, but part of me knows 90% of the people won't even bother to read it...then that begs the question, do I add it even if it's just for my enjoyment?