A Life Of fiction XLVII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.


On the use of quotations: In my novels I have started chapters with quotations quite often. Again, it depends on the novel – I have rarely started a chapter in a gas-lamp fantasy novel with a quotation. They have tended to be in some of my literary attempts, or in some of my more experimental genre novels.

A word of advice here: always try to use quotes which are out of copyright. Then you don’t have to worry about trying to get permission to use the quote. So quotes from Shakespeare tend to turn up in my novels quite often, ones such as:


The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.


William Shakespeare:  The Merchant of Venice (Act 5, scene 1)


Another source of quotes where you don’t have to worry about being sued for breach of copyright is the Bible. I have quoted from that book several times, despite the fact that I am an atheist, using ones such as:


I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end


That one was taken from Memories, again. But there are many more sources other than Shakespeare and the Bible. All of the verse of the great writers and poets of the past is out of copyright: the likes of William Blake, Alexander Pope, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Daniel Defoe, Lawrence Sterne, and so on:


How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!

The world forgetting, by the world forgot

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d


Alexander Pope: Eloisa to Abelard (1717)


That is my favourite lines of verse by the great Alexander Pope. I have used it more than once including in – yes, you’ve guessed it – the novel Memories. I am not going to use any more examples of quotations. I think that the three above are enough.

There are some other considerations in using quotations other than the question of copyright, however. A quote, I feel, should be apposite. It should have some relevance to the chapter in which it has been inserted. There is no point in having a quote in your book just for the sake of using a quote. I hope that all of the quotes which I have used add a little to my writing, rather than detract from it.

Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End… that was from the end of Memories. Perhaps a little obvious, that one, but you get the idea. Quotes don’t have to be that obvious. You can use them, in fact, too draw attention to the subtext of the chapter, getting your ideas across without having to spell them out. Use quotes sparingly, and wisely.


Well, that’s it for now. I have absolutely no idea what I will discuss in the next post.


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