Evolution of a Writing Style: Quotation Marks

Quotation marks

Quotation marks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy (Photo credit: alessio.sartore)

Sometimes on Xanga people would comment on how I don’t use quotation marks.  That is intentional.  It wasn’t until I read Cormac McCarthy that I realized how superfluous quotation marks are and that anyone who has mastered the basics of writing dialog can do without them.  McCarthy always writes in 3rd person, and it’s easier to do without them in 3rd.  It’s a little harder in 1st, which is what I use almost exclusively but in 1st it can be done.  As far as the reader is concerned it’s usually just a matter of getting used to it.

McCarthy doesnt stop there.  He omits apostrophes in common contractions that everyone knows such as dont, cant, wasnt, and so on.  He said he doesn’t like those little marks cluttering up the page.  I dont know about that but I do know it makes for a cleaner, more stark style of writing, which is nice if your style is minimalist like mine.

I took it even further.  In deciding to invent a style of writing for the internet I started using common internet acronyms such as IDK, WTF, IRL, TMI, and so on.  I used email style as a model for taking it further, the kind of careless writing people use when they’re in a hurry.  I used convenient misspellings such as “thru” for through, although I know how to spell.  And for another iconoclastic touch I dont capitalize “I” unless it comes at the start of the sentence.   In addition to writing in first person I wrote in the present tense, which gives an immediacy to writing that holds suspense very well.  I’d get comments such as, “I felt like I was right in that room.”

Sometimes after years of writing fiction you figure out how to do it right in a flash of inspiration.  The author of Bridges of Madison County had such a Eureka experience and went on to write more.  I’m not comparing myself to him but I understand what happens.  That summer I went on to finish an autobiographical novel and then the Dana series as well as Since Yesterday, Axel’s Travels, some others.  Suddenly, liberated from stylistic conventions I became prolific and wrote more than i’d have thought possible.

Not everyone likes this style of writing but it grows on you until you feel like why doesn’t everyone do it this way.  And any fiction writer who wants to try it will find it easier than it looks.  


Roswell Debut

For those of you who are Roswell fans, it will debut Tuesday, January 15 at 9:00 pm on the CW.  Something to look forward to anyway.


When you’re a kid you want the world to stop while you finish growing up.  When you’re old you want the world to at least slow down while you finish living and finish dying.

Roswell, New Mexico on CW

Like most fans of the original Roswell tv show I look to CW’s reincarnation of this series with mixed feelings.  I have seen the trailer several times and find it intriguing in a showy way and I am willing to watch the pilot episode in 2019 or whenever they get around to airing it.  But I will be fully prepared to hate it.

I have no problem at all with the characters being grown up and in their thirties but the idea of Max as a cop is an abomination.  In the original the theme of aliens trying to get through life without being caught and dissected and the paranoid contamination of their lives was a constant.  I cannot see how this is in any way compatible with being a cop.  But maybe they’ll find a way to make it work.

Another troubling change is that the show is supposed to be more “political.”  IDK how that will work either.  The original bent over backward to avoid it because, I think, it was a kids’ show.  After the new series is long gone the politicking will date the show horribly.  The way all that 90s music could have done to the original.  It didn’t, at least not to me, thanks to Tunefind.  That’s led me to songs and groups of the 90s I had never heard of, so that part turned out okay.

So maybe I will really like it and it will be cancelled after one season.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

False Friend

I once met a false friend

On a filthy country road

She said you’ve always been

Just an ugly little toad


I said I’m an old man and this a lonely place

Be with me

But she turned away her face

And this road is all I see


Down that road I’m easily led

Past a crow on a dead light pole

Death’s a snarling puma ahead

And my heart a lump of dead black coal


I turn my back to the wind

And try to flee

But that puma’s always been

In that seething locust tree

Controlled Substance

Hey Pharmacist, you lying bitch

Fork tongued cunt with too much guile

Give me dope, make life rich

And let me die in style


Vicodin, you’re the answer

That makes my questions disappear

Forget it all, forget my cancer

Forget the lies I hear


Doctor Sphincter, you’re an ass

I am dying, do you think I care?

Am I addicted, how dare you ask!

You have a backbone made of air


Just give me my dope, you evil shit

That puts me beyond the sorrow

So for a while I can lie down and quit

And forget about today until tomorrow*


*Forgive this shameless borrowing of Dylan’s line



Passin’ Thru

Some people are afraid of the dark

Some are more afraid of the light

Some think if they just hit that mark

It’ll make all their evil right


This wants to be a baby, that wants to be dead

But it dont matter what you say or do

They’ll always rip off your head

Even when you’re just passin’ thru


Pray you dont die for others’ mistakes

But only for your own

They say you’ve already lived your life

Before you’re even grown


Man asked me the other day what is it that i do

I said it aint your business anyway, i’m only passin’ thru

There’s a Hoosier moon risin’ and the big dogs howl

And i wonder what i should do

But i guess none of that matters anyway

‘Cause we’re all just passin’ thru

Electric Storm

Cornfields heat like boiling glass

Steamy smell of ammonia and ripening corn

Dogs lying prostrate and panting

In the shade of a dead tree


Rain wont come when you need it

Sun comes when you need it dont want it dread it hate it

That changes now

Here’s the rain


Thunder cants the poetry of sorrow

Rain on tin roof sobs in the inarticulate language of despair

Light in farmhouse comes on

In weary counterpoint to a sky turned the color of night


Thunder glowers over fields

Cattle low piteously before it

Supplicant savages beseeching

An angry, capricious god


Gloom of summer rain more depressing

Than a flint colored winter day

When the earth is like iron

And all you want

Is to go inside