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.  


U have the meanest little pig eyes

That I have ever seen

Paranoid, vicious, malevolent

Wide apart on your porcine face

They look ready to slide off Ur face

Pigs are intelligent animals

They just dont have any class

Some are as smart as a dog

This, unexpected about a dirty hog

Are Ur eyes a window to Ur soul?

Are you hiding things nobody sees?

Maybe you’re just a stinking boar

But you’re fooling us all

Dry Season

Dry season never started

Because of this monsoon

And I’m broken hearted

Stranded in this room

In the clouds I see nothing

Just a black and dirty sky

Rain wont stop falling

And I sit and wonder why

Why does it rain, why does it snow?

Why are clear skies needed to know?

That nothing lasts 4ever

And even a heat wave must go


It’s six o’clock in the morning

I smell the earth’s wet moss

And as the day is dawning

They’re gonna nail me to the cross

They walk me cross the courtyard

The April morning’s cold

Dying now’s so very hard

I’m only twenty six years old

I know it wont be pleasant

I know it wont be nice

But it wasnt my decision

To die like Jesus Christ

Pain wracks my body

It’s so dark I cant see

I can forgive them, Father

But why have you forsaken me?


In Austin they got Zombies

Who roam the streets at night

They eat up big salamis

And shoot up out of sight

In the park there they got needles

That somebody’s used before

With microscopic evils

That you dont see anymore

And the whores down from Columbus

Service the walking dead

A zombie’s an encumbrance

But the hookers give them head

In the moonlight there is thunder

Megatons from space

Administrative blunder

A nuclear embrace

Mushrooms bloom in Austin

Detonation was at five

The zombies cant be found when

The narks are burned alive


I’m talking to a lizard

Who dont know what she is

She thinks that she’s a wizard

Because of her relatives

The world is flat, she says to me

And it’s gonna end next week

You’ll be struck dead right by that tree

There goes your lucky streak

Her friends come walking over

Here’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame

Einstein runs for cover

They all say he’s to blame

And they’re busy hanging Darwin

Cain and Abel pull the rope

It’s Ezra Pound’s last bargain

TS Eliot’s smoking dope

They take away my Codeine

And they say I’m gonna hang

For being an old dope fiend

Before the church bells rang

I just did get away in time

With the help of Stagger Lee

I got my ticket, I’m in line

The Titanic sails at three

A Lonesome Place

I’m an old man and this is a lonesome place

Be with me if U would if U can

And let’s embrace

A night’s a terrible thing to waste

Je t’aimerais

To this winter day should I compare thee?

Such a night could not be frigid enough

A frozen time in a frozen sea

Your face looks icy and our skin feels tough

aujourd’hui et demain

Come with me and my love be

For my love 4U is a red, red rose

Be here at daybreak and hold me

I’ll hear your warm heartbeat close

et toujour. Tiens!

Down by the Zuider Zee

The Wehrmacht strolling hand in hand

Drinking herbal tea

Singing songs of a foreign land

As they walk by the Zuider Zee

Country woman washing underwear

Stinking country strong

Scrubbing clothes in the Zuider Zee

Bellowing a country song

Old men dead or dying, fallen down

Glassy eyes that in life could never see

They died when Chiron was not around

In the groves of tangled mimosa down by the Zuider Zee

All dead generations singing a graveyard song

On the far side of Zuider Zee

Green shoots and daffodils pushing up strong

Feeding on death by the Zuider Zee

In Laws

Merry Christmas, my Valentine

You’re special but your family’s swine

They think I’m trash but I’m so fine

Every one of them’s a Borderline

Everywhere I go they’re there

I think they follow me everywhere

White trash who can barely read

Deliverance country’s what they need

White trash wrapped in false grandeur

Ignorance so very pure

Everywhere I go they’re there

Unwashed asses foul the air