How Do I Correctly Quote a Letter in a Story?

When you are writing a story and need to quote a letter, incorporating it smoothly into your text can be challenging. Successful integration depends on factors such as publication format, narrative style, and the length of the quotation.

Formatting a letter in a story

When quoting a letter, you could consider it as a block quotation. These are typically indented and can have a slightly smaller font or a monospaced font found on typewriters. The variability of style depends on the author’s intent, the publication format, and the narrative style. Here are some possible ways to differentiate the letter quotation from the main narrative text:

  • Double Indenting: A common way of setting the letter apart from the rest of the text.
  • Italicizing or a Script Font: This helps to visually separate the letter from the main text, creating a distinct space.
  • Smaller Font: Used rarely as it might not be easy on the eyes, but it’s another way to delineate the letter.
  • Different Font Style: Some authors use a different font style reminiscent of various in-universe publications or characters’ handwriting

Remember, paragraphs of a letter should maintain similar separation consistency with paragraphs in the main narrative, ensuring readability.

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Quoting a specific word or phrase in the dialogue

When quoting another character within a dialogue, use double quotation marks for the speaking character’s words and single quotation marks to indicate the words they are quoting. Here is an example:

“Mark’s mantra is the only thing keeping me sane. He said, ‘Just get yourself to tomorrow.'”

Narrative letter writing

If your story includes a narrative letter, remember to integrate elements of both letter writing and storytelling. To structure a narrative letter, these steps could be useful:

  • Introduce Characters: Immediately let the reader know who is writing the letter and who they are writing to.
  • Start from the Beginning: Letters should follow a chronological order starting from the earliest events.
  • Develop the Story: Continue to build up to the climax; keep the language engaging.
  • End the Story: Conclude with the event that prompted the character to write the letter. Highlight the character’s feelings and experiences.
  • Sign off: Close the letter, typically with a common closing like “Yours sincerely.”

These are story-building elements to use:

  • Characters, setting, and plot
  • A clear beginning, middle, and end
  • A narrator (First person in a letter)
  • Exciting language to engage the reader
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Quoting a letter in a story doesn’t have to be complex. With an understanding of how to use the right font, indentation, sizes, and quotation marks, you can successfully integrate a quoted letter without disrupting the flow of your narrative. Remember, it’s the subtleties in formatting that can influence the overall readability of your story. A well-integrated letter quote can enhance character development while adding depth to your storyline.

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