The use of sub quotes vs. direct quotes


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Thread: The use of sub quotes vs. direct quotes

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    The use of sub quotes vs. direct quotes

    I tried searching WF, but haven't seen anything yet on the use of sub quotes vs. direct. Does any thread exist here on that subject yet?
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    Honoured/Sadly Missed The Backward OX's Avatar
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    It does now.

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    Ok. I'd like to know if the use of subquotes is proper in this situation: The subject you're writing about is deceased. A relative, friend, or colleague is recalling conversations they've had with the subject. Is it more realistic to use subquotes during the interviewee's direct quote, i.e. recollection, or use direct quotes of the subject with the proper identifier at the beginning of the recollection? I recently read a biography of Karen Carpenter in which many of her friends & associates were interviewed. In recalling the conversations they'd had with her, the author used direct quotes when relaying her part of the conversation. While I believe she said what was written, it just seemed less realistic than if the author had used subquotes. Not sure, maybe that was my own take on it. What does everyone think about this?
    Thanks in advance.
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    If the deceased person is extensively quoted within the context of a character's recollective narration, then sometimes it's best simply to inset/indent the first level of narration (the recollection). (I was going to put an example in here but my tea is ready. Sorry about that, you'll just have to thrash away without a helpful example in this case.)

    Like what I'm saying is that if one of your characters is about to launch into an anecdote or story that's going to go on for more than a few sentences, take that story and make a sub-story out of it; indent it, OR make a section break in which that character's story is told from that character's perspective.

    I guess, however, it may depend on the purpose of your writing--is it going to be a biographical account, as in your example? Is it fiction...?
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  5. #5
    I can see it either way:-

    "Bees wax and bumble bees" she said to Karen, and Karen replied,
    "Indeed they do."
    or
    She told me,
    "I said beeswax and bumblebees to Karen and she replied 'Indeed they do.'"
    The only convention I know of is "---" around the main quote and '---' for the contained one.
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    Actually I can see both of your points. It is non-fictional biography. I would think that any extensive dialogue on the subject's part would require direct quotes with indentation, because using subquotes may confuse the reader by the time they get back to the person recalling it. However, as in Olly's example, if it's a brief blip, & if the interviewee's memory is spotty on that particular conversation, subquotes are appropriate also. Do you think, if done the right way, that using both would be fine without confusing the reader too much?

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  7. #7
    A skillful writer can get away with almost anything under the right circumstances, but my instinct is to say be consistent.
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  8. #8
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    Thank you Olly, and Scarlett.
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