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SPEECH MARK FREE ZONE




I have wasted hours trying to convince writers that single speech marks are the British English way of framing dialogue. Doubles being for other forms of English. Of course this is neither a rule nor is it strictly followed. What I think I was trying to express was that double quotes are ugly. So it was an aesthetic preference rather than a stylistic issue. Few weeks back I came across John Givens' The Plumb Rains (and other stories) and the scales fell from my eyes. NO SPEECH MARKS. The writing is elegant, expressive, poetic, mellifluous, need I go on. Because there are no clumsy punctuation marks separating what is said, from the flow of the story, the effect is more integrated, and, well, mellifluous. I'm now 10,000 words into a dialogue-rich story of my own and I have yet to use speech marks. Even if I chicken out and add speech marks in the end, it has still greatly improved my writing. Instead of relying on a punctuation device to let my readers know someone is speaking, I have to clarify this in other, more refined, and literary ways. It is forcing me to think. Even if you deplore the concept, I still recommend trying it as an exercise.

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