Conventions for Writing about Literature
Quotation with Signal Phrase:
If you are quoting dialogue (the spoken words of a character) in a work of literature, you should introduce the character who is speaking and provide a context for the spoken words. Use a signal phrase which names the speaker to incorporate the quotation.
For example: When Josephine begs Louise to open the door, Louise says, “Go away. I am not making myself ill” (8).
Or: Louise says, “Go away. I am not making myself ill” (8).
If you are quoting prose (non-spoken words) rather than dialogue (spoken words of a character) in a work of literature, there are also ways to smoothly incorporate quotations. One way to do this is to use an introduced quotation. To do this, first introduce the quote with a complete statement in your own words. Then, use a colon (:) in order to show that quotation which follows the colon is an example or further explanation of your statement.
For example: Louise Mallard’s outer appearance clearly reveals her inner qualities: “She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength” (7).
Another way to quote prose is to use a blended quotation. This is when you blend a quotation into your own sentence. Sometimes, this means that you blend only a part of the original sentence into your own sentence. Also make sure that your blended sentence is grammatically correct.
For example: “The patches of blue sky” (7) represent hope in Louise Mallard’s bleak life.
Other Literary Conventions to Keep in Mind:
· In writing about literature, it is a convention to write in the present tense.
· Put titles of self-contained works (like novels) in italics, and put titles of works that are published as part of a larger whole (like the readings from Signs of Life ) in quotation marks.
· Put quotes within quotes in single quotation marks. (see WRP p.197).
· Put brackets around anything that you need to change within the quote. (see WRP p.206).
· Use ellipses to indicate omitted material from the quote. (see WRP p.202-205).
· Indent (10 spaces) quotations of more than four lines. These long quotations are double-spaced and the parenthetical citations are placed after the end punctuation. Do not include quotation marks for long quotations. (see WRP p.198).