0

Ben stared into the distance, then rose from his seat and with his arms held wide, “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.”

And as Jane followed his gaze, “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break.”

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” chuckled Victor.

Would it be correct to write the quotes in the dialogue in this way or would it be expected that the quotes should be centred in the page?

And as Jane followed his gaze, “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break.”

The above is a subordinate clause. Would I get away with that, so I can avoid the rather tedious he said, she said that breaks flow in dialogue in writing? Or would I have to join it to the sentence above, which could cause confusion as to who the speaker is, or would it?

Would it be necessary to capitalise as in Something in the first quote as this would be a new line in the play script.

Secondly, would the same rules apply for singing dialogue in a narrative?

At this point Ben was swinging around the lamppost, “Slast Chlistmas, I gave you my heart.”

Is this okay without he sang?

Jenny joined tunelessly, “And the very next day, you gave it away.”

  • The device of omitting the verb is a well-established convention. But you need to put the speaker in subject position in the second: *And Jane, following his gaze, "My tongue ...". As it stands, it appears to be Ben who utters this quote. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 22 '14 at 11:59
  • Brilliant. Just the answer I was looking for. – RoDaSm Apr 22 '14 at 12:25
1

There is no reason to center the quotes on the page, when the quotation appears as part of a dialogue.

I suspect what you're talking about is not really centering the text, but blockquoting it--that is, presenting it as indented on the left and right. That's unnecessary in your example, as well.

Blockquoting is more common in nonfiction, and especially in academic writing. It's used in modern writing for two reasons:

  • To separate long quotations from surrounding text; or
  • To maintain line breaks, indentations, and other formatting in quoted poetry.

Neither case applies here. Your excerpts are short, and there is no special formatting beyond the single line break in the Shakespeare quote. I would either denote the line break with a slash:

By the pricking of my thumbs,/Something wicked this way comes

or, more naturally in what looks like fiction writing, leave out the second capital.

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes

What you should do, on the other hand, if you want to make it clear that your character is quoting, is to use single quotation marks inside the double quotation marks. For example:

Ben stared into the distance, then rose from his seat and with his arms held wide, “'By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.'”

It's not incorrect to leave out the single quotes, but it makes it clear that your character is knowingly quoting Shakespeare, rather than having what he thinks is an original thought.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.