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How to Make a Quote Book

Last Updated: January 31, 2023

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 10 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 57,645 times. Learn more...

Collecting quotes is a great hobby. Naturally you'll want to store them someplace, so why not a book? It's a great way to preserve memories and very fun to browse through.

Step 1 Find a blank book

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • You can make your quote book public or private. But make sure to draw the line. Ask yourself, if you intend to share it with others, whether you want everyone who's browsing through to read it. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Try to avoid putting in quotes, that one year later, you know will make you cringe. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Listen to songs. If there is a lyric that you like, you can write that down too. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to write a quotes book

  • There are sometimes a lot of variations out there on quotes. You can make up your mind about how to choose amongst them, but using correct grammar as a standard is always helpful. Thanks Helpful 18 Not Helpful 1

Things You'll Need

  • Empty journal or book
  • Writing utensil

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How to create a book of your favorite quotes and proverbs

Since i was young i was fascinated by quotes - words & sayings that resonated with my own dreams & values. many years ago i started saving my favorites. here's how....

Quotations, proverbs, sayings . . . why are these important? And why would we want to save them?

Certainly there are words that have inspired you. A saying that reminds you about something that is important to you. A proverb that has guided your own philosophy of life.

Putting these in a journal means that later you can come back to them when you need inspiration.

Or maybe to share them with others.

Or perhaps you want to create something you can pass along to your children someday.

📖 So where do you find quotes? 📖

Books are a major source. Often you'll find an opening quote (epigraph) that captures the story's essence or sets the stage. Sometimes these are literary and sometimes they're drawn from pop culture.

There are countless books dedicated to quotations. The granddaddy of them all is "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations." First published in 1882, the book has been revised and updated many times since.

Family sayings - is there a family saying or proverb that's been passed down from your ancestors? Be sure to include that in your book.

Magazines sometimes have quotes at the opening of articles or in an article that you might like. Just remember to write down anything that resonates with you.

Religious books are a great source.

Facebook - people often post quotations or if you look at the About page of any of your friends, there's even a section where they put their favorite quotations.

On the app Pinterist, do a search for quotations and see what comes up. Lots!

Google "quotations" and tons of websites come up.

You can even google a specific topic like quotations about love and get pages and pages of quotes related to this theme.

The possibilities on the web are limitless!

Emails - sometimes people will include a favorite quote down at the bottom with their signature. Whenever I come across one that I like, I just save it for later to include in my book.

Song lyrics are an excellent source. Think of how many times you've actually quoted from a favorite song. All you need is love!

Even on the street – there are quotations around you everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open.

📖 Putting Your Quote Book Together 📖

First step is to find a journal. You want it sturdy and well-made so that it will last for many years to come. Who knows? Even for generations.

There are thousands of different styles and designs, lined or unlined, blank pages or illustrated, spiral or leather bound.

Remember your quote book is a work in progress. You'll be adding to it constantly, whenever you find a quote that you want to include.

Here's my quote book - a bit weathered as I've been adding to it for over 30 years.

My book happens to include some images from nature so I just write my quotes around them. When you can, attribute your quote to the person who said it. Sometimes though you have to write "anonymous."

Over the years I've used different color pen ink. Sometimes I print; sometimes I write cursive. I don't put the quotes in any particular order. How you put it together is all up to you.

Sometimes you'll find quotes that are with an image so you might want to cut them out and paste them in your book rather than just write the quote itself.

Sometimes you will find a quote already printed on paper and you can just cut that out and glue that in your book like I did here with this quote from Jack London.

I hope you've enjoyed this guide. Be sure to leave feedback and any other ideas you might have to share with others. Now you can get started - all you need is one quote!

  • Blank Journal or notebook
  • Quotations, Sayings, Proverbs

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

Used effectively, quotations can provide important pieces of evidence and lend fresh voices and perspectives to your narrative. Used ineffectively, however, quotations can clutter your text and interrupt the flow of your argument. This handout will help you decide when and how to quote like a pro.

When should I quote?

Use quotations at strategically selected moments. You have probably been told by teachers to provide as much evidence as possible in support of your thesis. But packing your paper with quotations will not necessarily strengthen your argument. The majority of your paper should still be your original ideas in your own words (after all, it’s your paper). And quotations are only one type of evidence: well-balanced papers may also make use of paraphrases, data, and statistics. The types of evidence you use will depend in part on the conventions of the discipline or audience for which you are writing. For example, papers analyzing literature may rely heavily on direct quotations of the text, while papers in the social sciences may have more paraphrasing, data, and statistics than quotations.

Discussing specific arguments or ideas

Sometimes, in order to have a clear, accurate discussion of the ideas of others, you need to quote those ideas word for word. Suppose you want to challenge the following statement made by John Doe, a well-known historian:

“At the beginning of World War Two, almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly.”

If it is especially important that you formulate a counterargument to this claim, then you might wish to quote the part of the statement that you find questionable and establish a dialogue between yourself and John Doe:

Historian John Doe has argued that in 1941 “almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly” (Doe 223). Yet during the first six months of U.S. involvement, the wives and mothers of soldiers often noted in their diaries their fear that the war would drag on for years.

Giving added emphasis to a particularly authoritative source on your topic.

There will be times when you want to highlight the words of a particularly important and authoritative source on your topic. For example, suppose you were writing an essay about the differences between the lives of male and female slaves in the U.S. South. One of your most provocative sources is a narrative written by a former slave, Harriet Jacobs. It would then be appropriate to quote some of Jacobs’s words:

Harriet Jacobs, a former slave from North Carolina, published an autobiographical slave narrative in 1861. She exposed the hardships of both male and female slaves but ultimately concluded that “slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.”

In this particular example, Jacobs is providing a crucial first-hand perspective on slavery. Thus, her words deserve more exposure than a paraphrase could provide.

Jacobs is quoted in Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, ed. Jean Fagan Yellin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).

Analyzing how others use language.

This scenario is probably most common in literature and linguistics courses, but you might also find yourself writing about the use of language in history and social science classes. If the use of language is your primary topic, then you will obviously need to quote users of that language.

Examples of topics that might require the frequent use of quotations include:

Southern colloquial expressions in William Faulkner’s Light in August

Ms. and the creation of a language of female empowerment

A comparison of three British poets and their use of rhyme

Spicing up your prose.

In order to lend variety to your prose, you may wish to quote a source with particularly vivid language. All quotations, however, must closely relate to your topic and arguments. Do not insert a quotation solely for its literary merits.

One example of a quotation that adds flair:

President Calvin Coolidge’s tendency to fall asleep became legendary. As H. L. Mencken commented in the American Mercury in 1933, “Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored.”

How do I set up and follow up a quotation?

Once you’ve carefully selected the quotations that you want to use, your next job is to weave those quotations into your text. The words that precede and follow a quotation are just as important as the quotation itself. You can think of each quote as the filling in a sandwich: it may be tasty on its own, but it’s messy to eat without some bread on either side of it. Your words can serve as the “bread” that helps readers digest each quote easily. Below are four guidelines for setting up and following up quotations.

In illustrating these four steps, we’ll use as our example, Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quotation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

1. Provide context for each quotation.

Do not rely on quotations to tell your story for you. It is your responsibility to provide your reader with context for the quotation. The context should set the basic scene for when, possibly where, and under what circumstances the quotation was spoken or written. So, in providing context for our above example, you might write:

When Franklin Roosevelt gave his inaugural speech on March 4, 1933, he addressed a nation weakened and demoralized by economic depression.

2. Attribute each quotation to its source.

Tell your reader who is speaking. Here is a good test: try reading your text aloud. Could your reader determine without looking at your paper where your quotations begin? If not, you need to attribute the quote more noticeably.

Avoid getting into the “he/she said” attribution rut! There are many other ways to attribute quotes besides this construction. Here are a few alternative verbs, usually followed by “that”:

Different reporting verbs are preferred by different disciplines, so pay special attention to these in your disciplinary reading. If you’re unfamiliar with the meanings of any of these words or others you find in your reading, consult a dictionary before using them.

3. Explain the significance of the quotation.

Once you’ve inserted your quotation, along with its context and attribution, don’t stop! Your reader still needs your assessment of why the quotation holds significance for your paper. Using our Roosevelt example, if you were writing a paper on the first one-hundred days of FDR’s administration, you might follow the quotation by linking it to that topic:

With that message of hope and confidence, the new president set the stage for his next one-hundred days in office and helped restore the faith of the American people in their government.

4. Provide a citation for the quotation.

All quotations, just like all paraphrases, require a formal citation. For more details about particular citation formats, see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . In general, you should remember one rule of thumb: Place the parenthetical reference or footnote/endnote number after—not within—the closed quotation mark.

Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Roosevelt, Public Papers, 11).

Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”1

How do I embed a quotation into a sentence?

In general, avoid leaving quotes as sentences unto themselves. Even if you have provided some context for the quote, a quote standing alone can disrupt your flow.  Take a look at this example:

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression. “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

Standing by itself, the quote’s connection to the preceding sentence is unclear. There are several ways to incorporate a quote more smoothly:

Lead into the quote with a colon.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression: “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

The colon announces that a quote will follow to provide evidence for the sentence’s claim.

Introduce or conclude the quote by attributing it to the speaker. If your attribution precedes the quote, you will need to use a comma after the verb.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression. He states, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

When faced with a twelve-foot mountain troll, Ron gathers his courage, shouting, “Wingardium Leviosa!” (Rowling, p. 176).

The Pirate King sees an element of regality in their impoverished and dishonest life. “It is, it is a glorious thing/To be a pirate king,” he declares (Pirates of Penzance, 1983).

Interrupt the quote with an attribution to the speaker. Again, you will need to use a comma after the verb, as well as a comma leading into the attribution.

“There is nothing either good or bad,” Hamlet argues, “but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet 2.2).

“And death shall be no more,” Donne writes, “Death thou shalt die” (“Death, Be Not Proud,” l. 14).

Dividing the quote may highlight a particular nuance of the quote’s meaning. In the first example, the division calls attention to the two parts of Hamlet’s claim. The first phrase states that nothing is inherently good or bad; the second phrase suggests that our perspective causes things to become good or bad. In the second example, the isolation of “Death thou shalt die” at the end of the sentence draws a reader’s attention to that phrase in particular. As you decide whether or not you want to break up a quote, you should consider the shift in emphasis that the division might create.

Use the words of the quote grammatically within your own sentence.

When Hamlet tells Rosencrantz that he “could be bounded in a nutshell and count [him]self a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2), he implies that thwarted ambition did not cause his depression.

Ultimately, death holds no power over Donne since in the afterlife, “death shall be no more” (“Death, Be Not Proud,” l. 14).

Note that when you use “that” after the verb that introduces the quote, you no longer need a comma.

The Pirate King argues that “it is, it is a glorious thing/to be a pirate king” (Pirates of Penzance, 1983).

How much should I quote?

As few words as possible. Remember, your paper should primarily contain your own words, so quote only the most pithy and memorable parts of sources. Here are guidelines for selecting quoted material judiciously:

Excerpt fragments.

Sometimes, you should quote short fragments, rather than whole sentences. Suppose you interviewed Jane Doe about her reaction to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. She commented:

“I couldn’t believe it. It was just unreal and so sad. It was just unbelievable. I had never experienced such denial. I don’t know why I felt so strongly. Perhaps it was because JFK was more to me than a president. He represented the hopes of young people everywhere.”

You could quote all of Jane’s comments, but her first three sentences are fairly redundant. You might instead want to quote Jane when she arrives at the ultimate reason for her strong emotions:

Jane Doe grappled with grief and disbelief. She had viewed JFK, not just as a national figurehead, but as someone who “represented the hopes of young people everywhere.”

Excerpt those fragments carefully!

Quoting the words of others carries a big responsibility. Misquoting misrepresents the ideas of others. Here’s a classic example of a misquote:

John Adams has often been quoted as having said: “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”

John Adams did, in fact, write the above words. But if you see those words in context, the meaning changes entirely. Here’s the rest of the quotation:

Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell.

As you can see from this example, context matters!

This example is from Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions (Oxford University Press, 1989).

Use block quotations sparingly.

There may be times when you need to quote long passages. However, you should use block quotations only when you fear that omitting any words will destroy the integrity of the passage. If that passage exceeds four lines (some sources say five), then set it off as a block quotation.

Be sure you are handling block quotes correctly in papers for different academic disciplines–check the index of the citation style guide you are using. Here are a few general tips for setting off your block quotations:

  • Set up a block quotation with your own words followed by a colon.
  • Indent. You normally indent 4-5 spaces for the start of a paragraph. When setting up a block quotation, indent the entire paragraph once from the left-hand margin.
  • Single space or double space within the block quotation, depending on the style guidelines of your discipline (MLA, CSE, APA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Do not use quotation marks at the beginning or end of the block quote—the indentation is what indicates that it’s a quote.
  • Place parenthetical citation according to your style guide (usually after the period following the last sentence of the quote).
  • Follow up a block quotation with your own words.

So, using the above example from John Adams, here’s how you might include a block quotation:

After reading several doctrinally rigid tracts, John Adams recalled the zealous ranting of his former teacher, Joseph Cleverly, and minister, Lemuel Bryant. He expressed his ambivalence toward religion in an 1817 letter to Thomas Jefferson:

Adams clearly appreciated religion, even if he often questioned its promotion.

How do I combine quotation marks with other punctuation marks?

It can be confusing when you start combining quotation marks with other punctuation marks. You should consult a style manual for complicated situations, but the following two rules apply to most cases:

Keep periods and commas within quotation marks.

So, for example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries.”

In the above example, both the comma and period were enclosed in the quotation marks. The main exception to this rule involves the use of internal citations, which always precede the last period of the sentence. For example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries” (Poe 167).

Note, however, that the period remains inside the quotation marks when your citation style involves superscript footnotes or endnotes. For example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries.” 2

Place all other punctuation marks (colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, question marks) outside the quotation marks, except when they were part of the original quotation.

Take a look at the following examples:

I couldn’t believe it when my friend passed me a note in the cafe saying the management “started charging $15 per hour for parking”!

The coach yelled, “Run!”

In the first example, the author placed the exclamation point outside the quotation mark because she added it herself to emphasize the outrageous nature of the parking price change. The original note had not included an exclamation mark. In the second example, the exclamation mark remains within the quotation mark because it is indicating the excited tone in which the coach yelled the command. Thus, the exclamation mark is considered to be part of the original quotation.

How do I indicate quotations within quotations?

If you are quoting a passage that contains a quotation, then you use single quotation marks for the internal quotation. Quite rarely, you quote a passage that has a quotation within a quotation. In that rare instance, you would use double quotation marks for the second internal quotation.

Here’s an example of a quotation within a quotation:

In “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “‘But the Emperor has nothing on at all!’ cried a little child.”

Remember to consult your style guide to determine how to properly cite a quote within a quote.

When do I use those three dots ( . . . )?

Whenever you want to leave out material from within a quotation, you need to use an ellipsis, which is a series of three periods, each of which should be preceded and followed by a space. So, an ellipsis in this sentence would look like . . . this. There are a few rules to follow when using ellipses:

Be sure that you don’t fundamentally change the meaning of the quotation by omitting material.

Take a look at the following example:

“The Writing Center is located on the UNC campus and serves the entire UNC community.”

“The Writing Center . . . serves the entire UNC community.”

The reader’s understanding of the Writing Center’s mission to serve the UNC community is not affected by omitting the information about its location.

Do not use ellipses at the beginning or ending of quotations, unless it’s important for the reader to know that the quotation was truncated.

For example, using the above example, you would NOT need an ellipsis in either of these situations:

“The Writing Center is located on the UNC campus . . .”

The Writing Center ” . . . serves the entire UNC community.”

Use punctuation marks in combination with ellipses when removing material from the end of sentences or clauses.

For example, if you take material from the end of a sentence, keep the period in as usual.

“The boys ran to school, forgetting their lunches and books. Even though they were out of breath, they made it on time.”

“The boys ran to school. . . . Even though they were out of breath, they made it on time.”

Likewise, if you excerpt material at the end of clause that ends in a comma, retain the comma.

“The red car came to a screeching halt that was heard by nearby pedestrians, but no one was hurt.”

“The red car came to a screeching halt . . . , but no one was hurt.”

Is it ever okay to insert my own words or change words in a quotation?

Sometimes it is necessary for clarity and flow to alter a word or words within a quotation. You should make such changes rarely. In order to alert your reader to the changes you’ve made, you should always bracket the altered words. Here are a few examples of situations when you might need brackets:

Changing verb tense or pronouns in order to be consistent with the rest of the sentence.

Suppose you were quoting a woman who, when asked about her experiences immigrating to the United States, commented “nobody understood me.” You might write:

Esther Hansen felt that when she came to the United States “nobody understood [her].”

In the above example, you’ve changed “me” to “her” in order to keep the entire passage in third person. However, you could avoid the need for this change by simply rephrasing:

“Nobody understood me,” recalled Danish immigrant Esther Hansen.

Including supplemental information that your reader needs in order to understand the quotation.

For example, if you were quoting someone’s nickname, you might want to let your reader know the full name of that person in brackets.

“The principal of the school told Billy [William Smith] that his contract would be terminated.”

Similarly, if a quotation referenced an event with which the reader might be unfamiliar, you could identify that event in brackets.

“We completely revised our political strategies after the strike [of 1934].”

Indicating the use of nonstandard grammar or spelling.

In rare situations, you may quote from a text that has nonstandard grammar, spelling, or word choice. In such cases, you may want to insert [sic], which means “thus” or “so” in Latin. Using [sic] alerts your reader to the fact that this nonstandard language is not the result of a typo on your part. Always italicize “sic” and enclose it in brackets. There is no need to put a period at the end. Here’s an example of when you might use [sic]:

Twelve-year-old Betsy Smith wrote in her diary, “Father is afraid that he will be guilty of beach [sic] of contract.”

Here [sic] indicates that the original author wrote “beach of contract,” not breach of contract, which is the accepted terminology.

Do not overuse brackets!

For example, it is not necessary to bracket capitalization changes that you make at the beginning of sentences. For example, suppose you were going to use part of this quotation:

“The colors scintillated curiously over a hard carapace, and the beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello.”

If you wanted to begin a sentence with an excerpt from the middle of this quotation, there would be no need to bracket your capitalization changes.

“The beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello,” said Dr. Grace Farley, remembering a defining moment on her journey to becoming an entomologist.

Not: “[T]he beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello,” said Dr. Grace Farley, remembering a defining moment on her journey to becoming an entomologist.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. 2012. The Modern Researcher , 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research , 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Turabian, Kate. 2018. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, Dissertations , 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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– 10 min read

A detailed guide to quoting

Jessica Malnik

Jessica Malnik

how to write a quotes book

Quotations have the power to elevate your written work when used correctly. But in order to use a quote properly, you must give full credit to the original source.

Before you can learn how to properly include quoted material, you need to have a firm understanding of what a quotation is, the purpose for using one, and the difference between quoting and paraphrasing.

What is a quotation in writing?

Quotations serve multiple purposes in writing. Students and professionals alike can benefit from using quotations in their work. Whether you’re writing a research paper or a blog article, you’ll likely find yourself needing to use them at some point. Quoting can add perspective, validation, and evidence to your piece.

What do you mean by quoting?

Quoting is a technique that allows you to include an original passage from a source in your work as a direct quote. You do this by framing or surrounding the quote in quotation marks like this, “This is an example of a sentence framed by quotation marks.” 

However, you can’t just add quotation marks and call it a day. You also need proper attribution for your source. 

Keep in mind that there is a difference between direct quoting and indirect quoting. With direct quoting, you include the source’s exact words framed within quotation marks. 

With indirect quoting, you can paraphrase what the person or text said in your own words instead of copying it verbatim. Indirect quoting, also known as indirect speech or discourse, is mostly used to summarize what someone said in a talk or interview. Indirect quotations are never placed within quotation marks.

How do you properly quote? 

To properly quote someone, you’ll need to follow some general quoting rules along with properly citing your source using your preferred MLA, APA, or Chicago style guide. 

For example, many people incorrectly use punctuation with quotation marks. Do you know whether or not to include punctuation inside the quotation marks?

Here’s how to handle punctuation marks with quotes, as well as a few more rules to consider when including quotations in your work:


As a good rule of thumb, periods and commas should go inside quotation marks. On the other hand, colons, semicolons, and dashes go outside of the quotation marks. 

However, exclamation points and question marks aren’t set in stone. While these tend to go on the inside of quotation marks, in some instances, you might place them outside of the marks. 

Here are a few examples to illustrate how this would work in practice:

“ You should keep commas inside the quotation marks, ” he explained.

She wanted to help, so she said, “ I’m happy to explain it ” ; they needed a thorough explanation, and she loved to teach her students.

It gets a little trickier with exclamation marks and question marks when quoting. These can be either inside the quotation marks or outside of them, depending on the situation. Keep question and exclamation marks inside the quotations if they apply to the quoted passage. If they apply to your sentence instead of the quote, you’ll want to keep them outside. Here’s an example:

He asked the students, “ Do you know how to use quotation marks? ”

Did the students hear the teacher when he said, “ I will show you how to use quotation marks ”?

Closing quotations

Once you start using a quotation mark, you have to close it. This means that you can’t leave a quote open like the example below because the reader wouldn’t know when the quote is over.

how to write a quotes book


The rule of capitalization changes depending on the context. 

For example, if you quote a complete sentence, then you should capitalize the first word in the sentence. However, if you are quoting a piece of a sentence or phrase, then you wouldn’t need to start with capitalization, like this:

She said, “ Here’s an example of a sentence that should start with a capital letter. ”

He said it was “ a good example of a sentence where capitalization isn’t necessary. ”

Sometimes, you’ll want to split a quote. You don’t need to capitalize the second half of the quote that’s divided by a parenthetical. Here’s an example to show you what that would look like:

“ Here is an example of a quote, ” she told her students, “ that doesn’t need capitalization in the second part . ”

What is the purpose of quoting? 

As stated above, quotations can serve multiple purposes in a written piece. Quotes can signify direct passages or titles of works. Here are a few of the reasons to include a quote within your written work:

To establish credibility with the words of an authority on the topic. To share a particularly powerful, meaningful, elegant, or memorable message. To expand on the point or analyze it further. To argue the position of the source material.

These intentions can apply whether you’ve interviewed your source or are taking a quote from an existing, published piece. 

However, before you use a quote, you’ll want to understand how it can strengthen your work and when you should use one. We’ll discuss when you should use quotes and how to properly cite them using different style guides in the next section.

When you should use quotes

Quotations should be used strategically, no matter what type of writing you’re doing. For instance, if you’re a professional copywriter crafting a white paper or a student writing a research paper, you’ll likely want to include as much proof as possible in your work. However, stuffing your paper with a ton of quotations can do more harm than good because the piece needs to represent your ideas and interpretations of the source, not just good quotes.

That being said, quoting reputable sources in your work is an excellent way to prove your points and add credibility to the piece. Use quotations in your work when you want to share accurate ideas and passages from source materials.

You should also use quotes when you want to add emphasis to a source on the topic you’re covering. 

For example, if you’re writing a research paper, then it would be beneficial to add quotes from a professor involved in the study you’re referring to in your piece.

How to cite a quote in MLA, APA, and Chicago 

MLA, APA, and Chicago are three of the most common citation styles. It’s a standardized way of crediting the sources that you quote. Depending on your assignment, you may need to use a specific one when citing your sources.

This section shares how to cite your quotes in these three popular citation styles, along with several examples of each.

Modern Language Association (MLA) is most often associated with academics in English or philosophic fields. With this style of citation, you’ll need to include quotes word-for-word. It’s fine to use only phrases or pieces from a specific quote, but you’ll need to keep the spelling and punctuation the same.

Here are some other criteria to keep in mind when citing using MLA style:

• If the quote goes longer than four lines, you must use a blockquote. Do not indent at the start of the quote block.

• Start quotes on the next line, ½ inch from the left margin of the paper.

• Quotes must be double spaced like the rest of the paper.

• Only use quotations when quotation marks are a part of the source.

• Include in-text citations next to the blockquote.

• If a blockquote is longer than a paragraph, you must start the next paragraph with the same indent.

• Don’t include a number in the parenthetical quotation if the source doesn’t use page numbers.

Here’s an example of a short, direct quote with MLA using a website resource without page numbers:

She always wanted to be a writer. “ I knew from a young age that I wanted to write a novel . ” (Smith)

And an example of a blockquote from page 2 of the source:

John Doe shares his experience getting his book published in the prologue:

I never expected so many people to be willing to help me publish this book. I had a lot of support along the way. My friends and colleagues always encouraged me to keep going. Some helped me edit, and others reminded me why I started in the first place. One of my good friends even brought me dinner when she knew I was going to be working late. (2)

With MLA, the reader can reference the full sources at the end in the Work Cited section. For this example, it could look like this:

Works Cited

Smith, J. (2021). Example Blog Post. Retrieved 2021, from www.example.com

Doe, J. (2021). Book Title One (1st ed., Vol. 1). Example, TX: Example Publishing.

See this article for more information on MLA style citations.

American Psychological Association (APA) is used often in psychology, education, and criminal justice fields. It often requires a cover page and abstract.

Here are a few points to consider when using APA style to cite your sources:

• Citation pages should be double spaced.

• All citations in a paper must have a full reference in the reference list.

• All references must have a hanging indent.

• Sources must be listed in alphabetical order, typically by the last name.

Using the same source examples as we did with MLA above, here is how they would be cited in APA:

Doe, Jane. Example Blog Post . 2021, www.example.com. 

Doe, John. Book Title One . 1st ed., vol. 1, Example Publishing, 2021. 

See this article for more information on APA style citations.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is commonly used in history and humanities fields. It was created to help researchers. Here are a few points to keep in mind for Chicago Style:

• There are 2 types of referencing styles:

    → Notes and Bibliography

    → Author-Date

• The list of bibliography must be single-spaced.

• The text should be double spaced, except for block quotations, tables, notes, and bibliographies.

• The second line should be indented for sources.

•Author last names must be arranged alphabetically.

Here’s how the same example sources used above would be cited using Chicago style:

Doe, Jane. “Example Blog Post,” 2021. www.example.com. 

Doe, John. Book Title One . 1. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Example, TX: Example Publishing, 2021.

See this article for more information on Chicago style citations.

Types of quotes and examples

There are two main types of quotes: direct and indirect.

Whenever you want to use someone’s statement word-for-word in your text, you’ll need to include properly cited, direct quotations. However, if you want to paraphrase someone’s words then indirect quotes could be more appropriate.

For example, say that you’re writing a press release for a company. You could interview different people within the company’s staff and paraphrase their quotes. This is particularly useful if the direct quote wouldn’t work well within your piece. For instance, you could change this direct quote example into an indirect quote that would more succinctly represent the speech:

Direct quote:

“I just found out we’ll be publishing some new textbooks on quotations. That’s so exciting because we’ve wanted to do that for a while now. I really can’t wait. It’s great news for the company, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Becky.

Indirect quote:

Becky says she’s excited about the company’s new opportunity to publish textbooks on quotations.

Keep in mind when using quotations that you should aim for using as few words as necessary. You don’t want to quote an entire paragraph when only one sentence contains the key information you want to share. If you need to add context, do so in your words. It’ll make for a much more interesting piece if you’re using quotes to support your stance alongside your interpretation instead of just repeating what’s already been said.

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Using Literary Quotations

Use the guidelines below to learn how to use literary quotations.

Download this Handout PDF


When you’re asked to write a paper analyzing a work of literature, your instructor probably expects you to incorporate quotations from that literary text into your analysis. But how do you do this well? What kind of quotations do you use? How do you seamlessly weave together your ideas with someone else’s words?

On this page we clarify the purpose of using literary quotations in literary analysis papers by exploring why quotations are important to use in your writing and then explaining how to do this. We provide general guidelines and specific suggestions about blending your prose and quoted material as well as information about formatting logistics and various rules for handling outside text.

Although this material is focused on integrating your ideas with quotations from novels, poems, and plays into literary analysis papers, in some genres this advice is equally applicable to incorporating quotations from scholarly essays, reports, or even original research into your work.

For further information, check out our Quoting and Paraphrasing resource, or you may wish to see when the Writing Center is offering its next introductory workshop about the genre of literary analysis. Additionally, our Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis offers wonderful insight into how you can read a piece of literature in order to analyze it.

Why should I use literary quotations?

Within a literary analysis, your purpose is to develop an argument about what the author of the text is doing—how the text “works.” You use quotations to support this argument. This involves selecting, presenting, and discussing material from the text in order to “prove” your point—to make your case—in much the same way a lawyer brings evidence before a jury.

Quoting for any other purpose is counterproductive. Don’t quote to “tell the story” or otherwise convey basic information about the text; most of the time within this genre you can assume your reader knows the text. And don’t quote just for the sake of quoting or to fill up space.

How do I use literary quotations?

General guidelines.

The following paragraph is from a student’s analysis of the relationship between two characters in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse . Notice how statements expressing the writer’s ideas and observations are verified with evidence from the novel in both summarized and quoted form.

We learn about Mrs. Ramsey’s personality by observing her feelings about other characters. For example, Mrs. Ramsey has mixed feelings toward Mr. Tansley, but her feelings seem to grow more positive over time as she comes to know him better. At first Mrs. Ramsey finds Mr. Tansley annoying, as shown especially when he mentions that no one is going to the lighthouse (7). But rather than hating him, she feels pity: “she pitied men always as if they lacked something . . .” (85). Then later, during the gathering, pity turns to empathy as she realizes that Mr. Tansley must feel inferior. He must know, Mrs. Ramsey thinks, that “no woman would look at him with Paul Rayley in the room” (104). Finally, by the end of the dinner scene, she feels some attraction to Mr. Tansley and also a new respect: “She liked his laugh . . . She liked his awkwardness. There was a lot in that man after all” (110). In observing this evolution in her attitude, we learn more about Mrs. Ramsey than we do about Mr. Tansley. The change in Mrs. Ramsey’s attitude is not used by Woolf to show that Mrs. Ramsey is fickle or confused; rather it is used to show her capacity for understanding both the frailty and complexity of human beings. This is a central characteristic of Mrs. Ramsey’s personality.

Your ideas + textual evidence + discussion

Notice that this paragraph includes three basic kinds of materials: (a) statements expressing the student’s own ideas about the relationship Woolf is creating; (b) data or evidence from the text in summarized, paraphrased, and quoted form; and (c) discussion of how the data support the writer’s interpretation. All the quotations are used in accordance with the writer’s purpose, i.e., to show how the development of Mrs. Ramsey’s feelings indicates something about her personality.

Textual evidence options

Quoting is only one of several ways to present textual material as evidence. You can also refer to textual data, summarize, and paraphrase. You will often want merely to refer or point to passages (as in the third sentence in the above example paragraph) that contribute to your argument. In other cases, you will want to paraphrase, i.e., “translate” the original into your own words, again instead of quoting. Summarize or paraphrase when it is not so much the language of the text that justifies your position, but the substance or content.

Quoting selectively

Similarly, after you have decided that you want to quote material, quote only the portions of the text specifically relevant to your point . Think of the text in terms of units—words, phrases, sentences, and groups of sentences (paragraphs, stanzas)—and use only the units you need. If it is particular words or phrases that “prove” your point, you do not need to quote the full sentences they appear in; rather, incorporate the words and phrases into your own sentences that focus on your own ideas.

Blending your prose and quoted material

It is permissible to quote an entire sentence (between two sentences of your own), but in general you should avoid this method of bringing textual material into your discussion. Instead, use one of the following patterns:

An introducing phrase or orienter plus the quotation:

  • In Blake’s poem “The Tyger,” it is creation, not a hypothetical creator, that is supremely awesome. [ argument sentence ]. The speaker asks, “What immortal hand or eye / Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?” [ data sentence; orienter before quote ]
  • Gatsby is not to be regarded as a personal failure. [ argument sentence ] “Gatsby turned out all right at the end” (2), according to Nick. [ data sentence; orienter after quote ]
  • “Our baby was a boy,” Shukumar tells his wife in the conclusion of Lahiri’s “A Temporary Matter” (22). [ data sentence; orienter after quote ] This admission is a death knell, tolling the end of their failing marriage. [ argument sentence ]

An assertion of your own and a colon plus the quotation:

  • In the midst of discussing the fate of the Abame tribe, Uchendu presents his own theory: “There is no story that is not true” (141).
  • Fitzgerald gives Nick a muted tribute to the hero: “Gatsby turned out all right at the end” (2).
  • Within Othello , Cassio represents not only a political but also a personal threat to Iago: “He hath a daily beauty in his life / That makes me ugly . . .” (5.1.19-20).

An assertion of your own with quoted material worked in:

  • For Nick, who remarks that Gatsby “turned out all right” (2), the hero deserves respect but perhaps does not inspire great admiration.
  • Satan’s motion is many things; he “strides” through the air (55), arrives like a “rattling” cloud (56), and later explodes—“wandering,” “hovering and blazing” like a fire (270).
  • Walking through Geraldine’s house, Pecola “wanted to see everything slowly, slowly” in order to fully appreciate its comparative order and opulence (Morrison 89).

Maintaining clarity and readability

Introduce a quotation either by indicating what it is intended to show, by naming its source, or by doing both. For non-narrative poetry, it’s customary to attribute quotations to “the speaker”; for a story with a narrator, to “the narrator.” For plays, novels, and other works with characters, identify characters as you quote them.

Do not use two quotations in a row without intervening text of your own. You should always be contextualizing all of your outside material with your own ideas, and if you let quotes build up without a break, readers will lose track of your argument.

Using the correct verb tense is a tricky issue. It’s customary in literary analysis to use the present tense; this is because it is at the present time that you (and your reader) are looking at the text. But events in a narrative or drama take place in a time sequence. You will often need to use a past tense to refer to events that took place before the moment you are presently discussing. Consider this example:

When he hears Cordelia’s answer, King Lear seems surprised, but not dumbfounded. He advises her to “mend [her] speech a little.” He had expected her to praise him the most; but compared to her sisters’, her remarks seem almost insulting (1.1.95).

Formatting logistics and guidelines

If for the sake of brevity you wish to omit material from a quoted passage, use ellipsis points (three spaced periods) to indicate the omission. Notice how in the paragraph about To the Lighthouse , above, the writer quoted only those portions of the original sentences that related to the point of the analysis.

When quoting, you may alter grammatical forms such as the tense of a verb or the person of a pronoun so that the quotation conforms grammatically to your own prose; indicate these alterations by placing square brackets around the changed form. In the quotation about King Lear at the end of the previous section, “her” replaces the “your” of the original so that the quote fits the point of view of the paper (third person).

Reproduce the spelling, capitalization, and internal punctuation of the original exactly. Of the following sentences presenting D. H. Lawrence’s maxim, “Books are not life,” the first is not acceptable in some style systems.

  • For Lawrence, “books are not life.” [ UNACCEPTABLE ]
  • For Lawrence, “[b]ooks are not life.” [ acceptable but awkward ]
  • Lawrence wrote, “Books are not life.” [ acceptable ]
  • “Books,” Lawrence wrote, “are not life.” [ acceptable ]
  • For Lawrence, books “are not life.” [ acceptable ]


You may alter the closing punctuation of a quotation in order to incorporate it into a sentence of your own. For example:

  • “Books are not life,” Lawrence emphasized.

Commas and periods go inside the closing quotation marks; the other punctuation marks go outside. For example:

  • Lawrence insisted that books “are not life”; however, he wrote exultantly about the power of the novel.
  • Why does Lawrence need to point out that “Books are not life”?

When quoting lines of poetry up to three lines long (which are not indented), separate one line of poetry from another with a slash mark with a space on either side (see examples from Blake’s “The Tyger” and Shakespeare’s Othello above).


Prose or verse quotations less than four lines long are not indented. For quotations of this length, use the patterns described above.

“Longer” quotations should be formatted according to the expectations of a block quote. This unit of text should be positioned one half inch from the left margin, and opening and closing quotation marks are not used. The MLA Handbook , 8 th edition (2016) recommends that indented quotations be double-spaced, but many instructors prefer them single-spaced. The meaning of “longer” varies slightly from one style system to another, but a general rule is to indent quotations that are more than two (or three) lines of verse or four lines of prose.

If you’re quoting a series of dialogue dialogue between characters in a play, indent these lines and place the speaker’s name before the speech quoted. For example:

  • CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then, fall, Caesar! CINNA: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! (3.1.77-78)


Follow your course instructor’s guidelines for documenting sources. If your instructor hasn’t told you which system to use to document sources, ask.

The documentation style used in this handout is that presented in the MLA Handbook , 8 th edition (2016), the most common citation style for literary analysis papers. The Writing Center has information about the rules of documentation within the most common systems .

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinau. Things Fall Apart . 1959. Anchor Books, 1994.

Blake, William. “The Tyger.” Poets.org , American Academy of Poets, https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/tyger. Accessed 1 July 2018.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby . 1925. The Scribner Library, 1953.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. “A Temporary Matter.” Interpreter of Maladies , Mariner Books, 1999, pp. 1-22.

Lawrence, David Herbert. “Why the Novel Matters.” Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays , edited by Bruce Steele, Cambridge University Press, 1985, pp. 191-8.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost . Printed for John Bumpus, 1821. Google Books , https://books.google.com/books?id=pO4MAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 1 July 2018.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye . 1970. Plume, 1993.

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Wordsworth Editions, pp. 582-610.

–. King Lear. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . Wordsworth Editions, pp. 885-923.

–. Othello, the Moor of Venice. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . Wordsworth Editions, pp. 818-57.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse . 1927. Harcourt, 1981.

how to write a quotes book

Academic and Professional Writing

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Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

  • Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
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Resume Writing Tips

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Cover Letters

Business Letters

Proposals and Dissertations

Resources for Proposal Writers

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Planning and Writing Research Papers

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Creating Poster Presentations

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

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Scientific Report Format

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Blog • Perfecting your Craft

Posted on Mar 29, 2019

170 Writing Quotes by Famous Authors for Every Occasion

When you're feeling stuck on your novel, an important thing to remember is that we've all been there in the past. That's right — even the J.K Rowling's and Ernest Hemingway's of this world. Which is why it's always a great idea to turn to your most famous peers (and their writing quotes) for inspiration.

Without further ado, here are 170 writing quotes  to guide you through every stage of writing. ( Yes! We've added more since we first published this post! )

The number one piece of advice that most authors have for other authors is to read, read, read. Here’s why.

1. “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools ) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King
2. “You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” — Annie Proulx
3. “Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” — Eudora Welty
4. “Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.” — William Faulkner
5. “I kept always two books in my pocket: one to read, one to write in.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
6. “The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.” — Ernest Gaines
7. “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” — Samuel Johnson
8. “Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” ― Lisa See
9. “One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.” — Mary B. W. Tabor

writing quotes-4

The well of inspiration, we’re afraid, often does run dry. Here are the writing quotes to replenish it and, hopefully, remind you that there might be a story idea waiting for you just around the corner of life.



How to Write a Novel

Enroll in our course and become an author in three months.

10. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." — Toni Morrison
11. “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott
12. “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” — Stephen King
13. “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.” — Mark Twain
14. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” — George Orwell
15. “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg
16. “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” — Madeleine L'Engle
17. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” — Henry David Thoreau
18. “Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” — William S. Burroughs
19. “Write what should not be forgotten.” — Isabel Allende
20. “The story must strike a nerve in me. My heart should start pounding when I hear the first line in my head. I start trembling at the risk.” — Susan Sontag
21. “Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.” — J.K. Rowling
22. “As for ‘Write what you know,’ I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
23. “I’m very lucky in that I don’t understand the world yet. If I understood the world, it would be harder for me to write these books.” — Mo Willems
24. “Ideas are cheap. It’s the execution that is all important.” — George R.R. Martin
25. “If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” — Dan Poynter

Now, finding your "voice" is not as simple as entering a nationally-televised competition on NBC ( nyuk nyuk! ). Yet your voice will define you as a writer, and these famous writers have plenty of tips and writing quotes for you when it comes to finding it.

Which famous author do you write like?

Find out which literary luminary is your stylistic soulmate. Takes one minute!

26. “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” — Allen Ginsberg
27. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” — Jack Kerouac
28. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” —Robert Frost
29. “It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.” — P.D. James
30. “Voice is not just the result of a single sentence or paragraph or page. It’s not even the sum total of a whole story. It’s all your work laid out across the table like the bones and fossils of an unidentified carcass.” — Chuck Wendig
31. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” — Elmore Leonard
32. “Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” — Meg Rosoff
33. “I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
34. “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.” — Virginia Woolf
35. “Everywhere I go, I’m asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.” — Flannery O’Connor
36. “There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written — it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and, if you fail to find that form, the story will not tell itself.” — Mark Twain

writing quotes-2

37. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
38. “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him.” — Ray Bradbury
39. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” — Ernest Hemingway
40. “Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.” — Mark Twain
41. “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” — Neil Gaiman
42. “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” — Ernest Hemingway
43. “It doesn’t matter how many book ideas you have if you can’t finish writing your book.” — Joe Bunting
44. “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood
45. “A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” — Sidney Sheldon
46. “I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am.” — Jane Austen
47. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." — William Faulkner
48. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.” — Lawrence Block
49. “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.” — John Steinbeck
50. “You can fix anything but a blank page.” — Nora Roberts
51. “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” — Pearl S. Buck
52. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

Don’t get discouraged if you get this far and you’re thinking that your first draft is rather poor. These writing quotes are reminders that it’s just part of the process.

53. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” — Terry Pratchett
54. “Get through a draft as quickly as possible.” — Joshua Wolf Shenk
55. “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” — Douglas Adams
56. “The first draft of everything is shit.” — Ernest Hemingway
57. “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” — Frank Herbert
58. “I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them — without a thought about publication — and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside.” — Anne Tyler
59. “I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts, so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just going to delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating.” — John Green
60. “Be willing to write really badly.” — Jennifer Egan
61. “On first drafts: It is completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.” — Stephen King
62. “I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” — Tom Clancy
63. “Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.” — Amy Joy

writing quotes-3

64. “You fail only if you stop writing.” — Ray Bradbury
65. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” — Isaac Asimov
66. “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” — Ray Bradbury
67. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
68. “I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” — Chinua Achebe
69. “The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work.” — Augusten Burroughs
70. “It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.” — Gerald Brenan
71. “Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.” — James Baldwin
72. “You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless — there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.” — Ernest Hemingway
73. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” — Kurt Vonnegut
74. “The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ from Flaubert. Which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” — Helen Simpson
75. “I’ve been writing since I was six. It is a compulsion, so I can’t really say where the desire came from; I’ve always had it. My breakthrough with the first book came through persistence, because a lot of publishers turned it down.” — J.K. Rowling
76. “Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.” — Ray Bradbury
77. “It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.” — Virginia Woolf
78. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” — Richard Bach

“Write drunk, edit sober” might be one of the most famous writing quotes about editing, but we can’t all outdrink Ernest Hemingway. Which is why these other words of wisdom and writing quotes exist!

79. “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” ― Jodi Picoult

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80. “When your story is ready for a rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” — Stephen King
81. “The best advice on writing was given to me by my first editor, Michael Korda, of Simon and Schuster, while writing my first book. 'Finish your first draft and then we'll talk,' he said. It took me a long time to realize how good the advice was. Even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.” — Dominick Dunne
82. “Editing might be a bloody trade, but knives aren’t the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too.” — Blake Morrison
83. “The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear.” — E.B. White
84. “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” — Arthur Plotnik
85. “Half my life is an act of revision.” — John Irving
86. “I'm all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” — Truman Capote
87. “It is perfectly okay to write garbage — as long as you edit brilliantly.” — C. J. Cherryh
88. “I've found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.” ― Don Roff
89. “Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'.” — Mark Twain
90. “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” ― Dr. Seuss
91. “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” — Henry David Thoreau
92. “I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times — once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one's fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.” — Bernard Malamud
93. “No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.” — Russell Lynes
94. “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” — Annie Dillard
95. “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.” — H.G. Wells

writing quotes-6

96. “A writer is a world trapped in a person.” — Victor Hugo
97. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” — Thomas Mann
98. “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.” — R.L. Stine
99. “As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.” ― Ernest Hemingway
100. “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” — Gustave Flaubert
101. “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” — Sylvia Plath
102. “I go out to my little office, where I’ve got a manuscript, and the last page I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it’s like getting on a taxiway. I’m able to go through and revise it and put myself — click — back into that world.” — Stephen King
103. “I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” — William Carlos Williams
104. “Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.” — Gore Vidal
105. “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.” — Catherine Drinker Bowen
106. “The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.” — Thomas Mann
107. “Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” — T.S. Eliot
108. “Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” — Margaret Chittenden
109. “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” — Eugene Ionesco
110. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin
111. “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” — Roald Dahl
112. “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” — Gloria Steinem

From cavemen to our modern day in the 21st-century, we have written our joys and sorrows throughout history. What compels us to write? Here’s what some of the most beloved writers we know have to say.

113. “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank
114. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anais Nin
115. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou
116. “The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.” — Zadie Smith
117. “The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis.” — William Styron
118. “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” — Robin Williams
119. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced.” — Aldous Huxley
120. “You can make anything by writing.” — C.S. Lewis
121. “Writers live twice.” —  Natalie Goldberg
122. “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” — Winston Churchill
123. “Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.” — Oscar Wilde
124. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” — Ray Bradbury

writing quotes-5

125. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass .” ― Anton Chekhov
126. “My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.” — Anton Chekhov
127. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” — Somerset Maugham
128. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” — Stephen King
129. “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain
130. “Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.” — Esther Freud
131. “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. [...] All they do is show you've been to college.” — Kurt Vonnegut
132. “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” — Herman Melville
133. “Write drunk, edit sober.” — Ernest Hemingway
134. “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain
135. “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman
136. “Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” — Jane Yolen
137. “Style means the right word. The rest matters little.” — Jules Renard
138. “My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I’ve failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant.” — Ken Follett
139. “And one of [the things you learn as you get older] is, you really need less… My model for this is late Beethoven. He moves so strangely and quite suddenly sometimes from place to place in his music, in the late quartets. He knows where he’s going and he just doesn’t want to waste all that time getting there… One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
140. “ Part 1. I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English — it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in . Part 2. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. Part 3. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.” — Mark Twain

“You miss 100% of the shots that you never take — Wayne Gretsky,” as Michael Scott once said. In tribute to this sentiment, these writing quotes help show why it’s important not to let failure or rejection get you down.

141. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” — John Wooden
142. “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil — but there is no way around them.” — Isaac Asimov
143. “Was I bitter? Absolutely. Hurt? You bet your sweet ass I was hurt. Who doesn’t feel a part of their heart break at rejection. You ask yourself every question you can think of, what, why, how come, and then your sadness turns to anger. That’s my favorite part. It drives me, feeds me, and makes one hell of a story.” — Jennifer Salaiz
144. “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” — Sylvia Plath
145. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent, he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” — Harper Lee
147. “I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I’m going to autograph these and auction them. And then I lost the box.” — James Lee Burke
148. “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” — Barbara Kingsolver
149. “To ward off a feeling of failure, she joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips, which she chose not to see as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game.” — Anita Shreve
150. “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” — Neil Gaiman
151. “The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.” — William Faulkner
152. “I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours — so enjoy the view.” — Michael York
153. “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.” — Erica Jong
154. “I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love.” — Anita Diamant
155. “I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long.” — Louise Brown
156. “I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of — or I did have — drawers full of rejection slips.” — Fred Saberhagen
157. “An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.” — Irwin Shaw
158. “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” — C. S. Lewis

Why does writing matter? If there’s anyone who might know the answer, it’s the people who write — and continue to write, despite adverse circumstances. Here are a few pennies for their thoughts.

159. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” — Virginia Woolf
160. “If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” — Wally Lamb
161. “A word after a word after a word is power.” — Margaret Atwood
162. “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” — Martin Luther
163. “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” — Albert Camus
164. “Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” — David Foster Wallace
165. “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman
166. “All stories have to at least try to explain some small portion of the meaning of life.” — Gene Weingarten
167. “If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.” — Peter Handke
168. “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” — Tom Clancy
169. “If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.” — Lillian Hellman
170. “Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” — Lev Grossman

Of course, writing quotes by themselves won't write the book for you — you alone have that power. However, we hope that this post has helped inspire you in some way! If you're looking for more in-depth resources, you can check out these guides:



Author and ghostwriter Tom Bromley will guide you from page 1 to the finish line.

  • How to Develop a Strong Theme
  • How to Build a Character Profile
  • How to Become a Better Writer Today

Have a favorite quote that we missed? If you know of more cool quotes by writers, write them in the comments!

2 responses

Brian Welte says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

Here's a quote I absolutely adore: "The author, in his work, must be like God in the Universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere" [Quote from Gustave Flaubert]

Comments are currently closed.

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88 inspiring quotes about writing a novel

These 88 inspiring quotes about writing, divided into 8 categories, offer inspiration to finish writing a novel:

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 5 Comments on 88 inspiring quotes about writing a novel

Woman writing her story at a counter | Now Novel

1. Quotes on finding an idea for a novel

Before you write the first word down, before your characters come alive on the page, the initial idea for your novel has to seize your imagination. Well-known writers offer perspectives on writing novel ideas, reasons to write your story, psyching yourself up to write and more:

George Orwell portrait and quote on reasons to write a novel | Now Novel

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. – John Steinbeck
I don’t believe that a writer ‘gets’ (takes into the head) an ‘idea’ (some sort of mental object) ‘from’ somewhere, and then turns it into words, and writes them on paper. At least in my experience, it doesn’t work that way. The stuff has to be transformed into oneself, it has to be composted, before it can grow into a story. – Ursula le Guin
If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper. – T.S. Eliot
To write fiction, one needs a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations. – Aldous Huxley
A man who is not born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel. I know this from experience. He has no clear idea of his story; in fact he has no story. He merely has some people in his mind, and an incident or two, also a locality, and he trusts he can plunge those people into those incidents with interesting results. – Mark Twain
When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. – George Orwell
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway
If a story is in you, it has to come out. – William Faulkner
Borges said there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and the voyage. All of us writers rewrite these same stories ad infinitum. – Paulo Coelho
Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one. – Salman Rushdie
My standard answer is ‘I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they come to, they come to my desk.’ If I’m not there, they go away again, so you’ve got to sit and think. – Philip Pullman

2. Quotes on planning your first draft

Writing by the seat of your pants (or ‘pantsing’) is something that many writers do. Even so, being methodical and planning the outline of your novel before you write the first draft could get you out of spots where you feel stuck:

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him! – Ray Bradbury
Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters’ theses. – Stephen King
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. – Zora Neale Hurston
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. – Vladimir Nabokov
You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide. – Marie de Nervaud
The scariest moment is always just before you start. – Stephen King
The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. – Agatha Christie
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin
It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself. This is hard to do alone. – Zadie Smith
I’m a relatively disciplined writer who composes the whole book before beginning to execute and write it. Of course, you can’t hold – you cannot imagine a whole novel before you write it; there are limits to human memory and imagination. Lots of things come to your mind as you write a book, but again, I make a plan, chapter, know the plot. – Orhan Pamuk
A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Blank page and person about to start writing | Now Novel

3. Quotes on writing your first draft

So you have a novel idea that inspires you and you’ve planned to the point that you feel empowered to start writing. This is where a disciplined writing routine will help you to begin fleshing out your idea:

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner
Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. – Barbara Kingsolver
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down. – Kurt Vonnegut
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Silvia Plath
The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway
Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. – Ray Bradbury
For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me. – Jack Dann
My aim is to put down what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way I can tell it. – Ernest Hemingway
My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see. – Joseph Conrad
You can’t wait for inspiration . You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London

4. Quotes on revising what you have written

Revising what you have written can be a deeply gratifying process and is a crucial step as you finish writing a novel. There might be the occasional section where you wince at an awkward construction or a common cliché, but there will equally be sentences, paragraphs, or whole chapters where you feel a growing sense of achievement:

Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it … – Michael Crichton
A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules. – Anthony Trollope
The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes. – Andre Gide
A good book isn’t written, it’s rewritten. – Phyllis A. Whitney
When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. – Stephen King
Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts. – Larry L. King
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. – Elmore Leonard
It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it. – Jack Kerouac
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write. – Saul Bellow
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. – Anton Chekhov
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? – George Orwell

5. Quotes on editing your novel (or being edited)

Many writers see editing as a thankless task. If you cannot afford to hire an editor or intend to edit your own work for another reason, the editing advice of famous authors could help you become a better editor. Having a fresh pair of eyes to look over your work is useful:

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. All they do is show you’ve been to college. – Kurt Vonnegut
Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke… – F. Scott Fitzgerald
It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly. – C.J. Cherry
Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. – Franz Kafka
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. – Mark Twain
What I had to face, the very bitter lesson that everyone who wants to write has got to learn, was that a thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish. – Thomas Wolfe
In writing, you must kill all your darlings. – William Faulkner
A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it. – Mark Twain
The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written. – Italo Calvino
Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. – Colette
Only a mediocre person is always at his best. – W. Somerset Maugham

6. Quotes on seeing it all come together

Seeing your complete novel coming together, the different parts weaving into a narrative that tells a distinct story, is one of the most rewarding stages of the novel-writing process:

You always get more respect when you don’t have a happy ending. – Julia Quinn
The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written. – Joyce Carol Oates
No one says a novel has to be one thing. It can be anything it wants to be, a vaudeville show, the six o’clock news, the mumblings of wild men saddled by demons. – Ishmael Reed
When I complete a novel I set it aside, and begin work on short stories, and eventually another long work. When I complete that novel I return to the earlier novel and rewrite much of it. In the meantime the second novel lies in a desk drawer. – Joyce Carol Oates
I work very deliberately, with a plan. But sometimes I come to a point that I planned as the end and it needs softening. Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly. – Colm Toibin
There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story. – Frank Herbert
As much as I like it when a book I’m writing speeds along, the downside can be that an author becomes too eager to finish and rushes the end. The end is even more important than the first page, and rushing can damage it. – David Morrell
Most authors liken the struggle of writing to something mighty and macho, like wrestling a bear. Writing a book is nothing like that. It is a small, slow crawl to the finish line. Honestly, I have moments when I don’t even care if anyone reads this book. I just want to finish it. – Amy Poehler
At the end of Slaughterhouse-Five … I had a shutting-off feeling … that I had done what I was supposed to do and everything was OK.” – Kurt Vonnegut
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. – Douglas Adams
Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period. – Nicholas Sparks

Woman thinking of inspiration for what to write about | Now Novel

7. Quotes on coping with publishers turning down your manuscript

Services such as Amazon’s Kindle Store and Scribd make it easier than ever for writer’s to self-publish their works digitally. Persistence, understanding of the industry and a thick skin are essential if you opt for the traditional publishing route.

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address. – Barbara Kingsolver
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. – Cyril Connolly
Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer. – Ray Bradbury
You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. – Isaac Asimov
If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’. – David Mitchell
Don’t listen to people who tell you that very few people get published and you won’t be one of them. Don’t listen to your friend who says you are better that Tolkien and don’t have to try any more. Keep writing, keep faith in the idea that you have unique stories to tell, and tell them. – Robin Hobb
You are never stronger…than when you land on the other side of despair. – Zadie Smith
Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. – J.K. Rowling
I finished my first book seventy-six years ago. I offered it to every publisher on the English-speaking earth I had ever heard of. Their refusals were unanimous: and it did not get into print until, fifty years later; publishers would publish anything that had my name on it. – George Bernard Shaw
I love my rejection slips. They show me I try. – Sylvia Plath
You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday. – Jonathan Swift

8. Quotes on being published

Finishing the task and having told your story to the best of your ability is a major achievement in itself. Once your manuscript has been accepted or you have self-published a whole new promotion process begins. Following insider advice on book promotion will help you to reach a broader reading public and grow a base of fans:

A writer should say to himself, not ‘How can I get more money?’ but ‘How can I reach more readers without lowering standards? – Brian Aldiss
Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money. – Virginia Woolf
Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be. – Margaret Atwood
A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him. – Edna St. Vincent Millay
An author who gives a manager or publisher any rights in his work except those immediately and specifically required for its publication or performance is for business purposes an imbecile. – George Bernard Shaw
I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers. – Vladimir Nabokov
If you don’t put 99 percent of yourself into the writing, there will be no publishing career. There’s the writer and there’s the author. The author—you don’t ever think about the author. Just think about the writer. So my advice would be, find a way to not care—easier said than done. Accept that the world may never notice this thing you worked so hard at. And instead, do it for it, find a job, find a way of living that gives you an hour or two or three a day to do it, and then work your ass off sending out, trying to get out there, but do not put the pressure on the work to do something for you. – Andre Dubus III
Publishing is a very mysterious business. It is hard to predict what kind of sale or reception a book will have, and advertising seems to do very little good. – Thomas Wolfe
The publishing world is very timid. Readers are much braver. – Kiran Desai
In matters of truth the fact that you don’t want to publish something is, nine times out of ten, a proof that you ought to publish it. – G.K Chesterton
I publish my own books, so there isn’t a certain editor I owe the book to at a publishing house. – Dave Eggers

Are you writing a novel? Get help developing and finishing the story you’re dying to tell .

Feel free to share your favourite inspirational quotes about writing in the comments below!

Related Posts:

  • Finding an inspiring story premise: 6 sources
  • Helpful writing quotes: An A to Z of authors' advice
  • Build confidence in writing: 21 motivating quotes
  • Tags editing , publishing , quotes , revising , story ideas

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

5 replies on “88 inspiring quotes about writing a novel”

This is truly inspiring. Thanks!

[…] Reading how other novelists have coped. I discovered that other authors have had a similar experience. Of particular comfort is Frank Herbert’s sage comment, “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” (quoted from “Finish writing a novel: 88 quotes that will help.” […]

[…] Whereas, for that, the first thing you have to do is ‘writing’. The famous saying of Vladimir Nabokov is “The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, […]

Beautiful quotes and very inspiring.

Thank you, Alisha, I’m glad they inspired you. Thanks for reading.

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  • How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA

How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA

Published on 15 April 2022 by Shona McCombes and Jack Caulfield. Revised on 3 September 2022.

Quoting means copying a passage of someone else’s words and crediting the source. To quote a source, you must ensure:

  • The quoted text is enclosed in quotation marks (usually single quotation marks in UK English, though double is acceptable as long as you’re consistent) or formatted as a block quote
  • The original author is correctly cited
  • The text is identical to the original

The exact format of a quote depends on its length and on which citation style you are using. Quoting and citing correctly is essential to avoid plagiarism , which is easy to detect with a good plagiarism checker .

How to Quote

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Table of contents

How to cite a quote in harvard and apa style, introducing quotes, quotes within quotes, shortening or altering a quote, block quotes, when should i use quotes, frequently asked questions about quoting sources.

Every time you quote, you must cite the source correctly . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style you’re using.

Citing a quote in Harvard style

When you include a quote in Harvard style, you must add a Harvard in-text citation giving the author’s last name, the year of publication, and a page number if available. Any full stop or comma appears after the citation, not within the quotation marks.

Citations can be parenthetical or narrative. In a parenthetical citation , you place all the information in brackets after the quote. In a narrative citation , you name the author in your sentence (followed by the year), and place the page number after the quote.

  • Evolution is a gradual process that ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (Darwin, 1859, p. 510) . Darwin (1859) explains that evolution ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (p. 510) .

Complete guide to Harvard style

Citing a quote in APA Style

To cite a direct quote in APA , you must include the author’s last name, the year, and a page number, all separated by commas. If the quote appears on a single page, use ‘p.’; if it spans a page range, use ‘pp.’

An APA in-text citation can be parenthetical or narrative. In a parenthetical citation , you place all the information in parentheses after the quote. In a narrative citation , you name the author in your sentence (followed by the year), and place the page number after the quote.

Punctuation marks such as full stops and commas are placed after the citation, not within the quotation marks.

  • Evolution is a gradual process that ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (Darwin, 1859, p. 510) .
  • Darwin (1859) explains that evolution ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (p. 510) .

Complete guide to APA

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Make sure you integrate quotes properly into your text by introducing them in your own words, showing the reader why you’re including the quote and providing any context necessary to understand it.  Don’t  present quotations as stand-alone sentences.

There are three main strategies you can use to introduce quotes in a grammatically correct way:

  • Add an introductory sentence
  • Use an introductory signal phrase
  • Integrate the quote into your own sentence

The following examples use APA Style citations, but these strategies can be used in all styles.

Introductory sentence

Introduce the quote with a full sentence ending in a colon . Don’t use a colon if the text before the quote isn’t a full sentence.

If you name the author in your sentence, you may use present-tense verbs, such as “states’, ‘argues’, ‘explains’, ‘writes’, or ‘reports’, to describe the content of the quote.

  • In Denmark, a recent poll shows that: ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • In Denmark, a recent poll shows that support for the EU has grown since the Brexit vote: ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • Levring (2018) reports that support for the EU has grown since the Brexit vote: ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (p. 3).

Introductory signal phrase

You can also use a signal phrase that mentions the author or source but doesn’t form a full sentence. In this case, you follow the phrase with a comma instead of a colon.

  • According to a recent poll, ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • As Levring (2018) explains, ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (p. 3).

Integrated into your own sentence

To quote a phrase that doesn’t form a full sentence, you can also integrate it as part of your sentence, without any extra punctuation.

  • A recent poll suggests that EU membership ‘would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ in a referendum (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • Levring (2018) reports that EU membership ‘would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ in a referendum (p. 3).

When you quote text that itself contains another quote, this is called a nested quotation or a quote within a quote. It may occur, for example, when quoting dialogue from a novel.

To distinguish this quote from the surrounding quote, you enclose it in double (instead of single) quotation marks (even if this involves changing the punctuation from the original text). Make sure to close both sets of quotation marks at the appropriate moments.

Note that if you only quote the nested quotation itself, and not the surrounding text, you can just use single quotation marks.

  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: ‘ ‘ Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, ‘ he told me, ‘ just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had ‘ ‘ (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: ‘”Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had “  (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: ‘“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”’ (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway begins by quoting his father’s invocation to ‘remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had’ (Fitzgerald 1).

Note:  When the quoted text in the source comes from another source, it’s best to just find that original source in order to quote it directly. If you can’t find the original source, you can instead cite it indirectly .

Often, incorporating a quote smoothly into your text requires you to make some changes to the original text. It’s fine to do this, as long as you clearly mark the changes you’ve made to the quote.

Shortening a quote

If some parts of a passage are redundant or irrelevant, you can shorten the quote by removing words, phrases, or sentences and replacing them with an ellipsis (…). Put a space before and after the ellipsis.

Be careful that removing the words doesn’t change the meaning. The ellipsis indicates that some text has been removed, but the shortened quote should still accurately represent the author’s point.

Altering a quote

You can add or replace words in a quote when necessary. This might be because the original text doesn’t fit grammatically with your sentence (e.g., it’s in a different tense), or because extra information is needed to clarify the quote’s meaning.

Use brackets to distinguish words that you have added from words that were present in the original text.

The Latin term ‘ sic ‘ is used to indicate a (factual or grammatical) mistake in a quotation. It shows the reader that the mistake is from the quoted material, not a typo of your own.

In some cases, it can be useful to italicise part of a quotation to add emphasis, showing the reader that this is the key part to pay attention to. Use the phrase ’emphasis added’ to show that the italics were not part of the original text.

You usually don’t need to use brackets to indicate minor changes to punctuation or capitalisation made to ensure the quote fits the style of your text.

If you quote more than a few lines from a source, you must format it as a block quote . Instead of using quotation marks, you set the quote on a new line and indent it so that it forms a separate block of text.

Block quotes are cited just like regular quotes, except that if the quote ends with a full stop, the citation appears after the full stop.

To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more. (16)

Avoid relying too heavily on quotes in academic writing . To integrate a source , it’s often best to paraphrase , which means putting the passage into your own words. This helps you integrate information smoothly and keeps your own voice dominant.

However, there are some situations in which quotes are more appropriate.

When focusing on language

If you want to comment on how the author uses language (for example, in literary analysis ), it’s necessary to quote so that the reader can see the exact passage you are referring to.

When giving evidence

To convince the reader of your argument, interpretation or position on a topic, it’s often helpful to include quotes that support your point. Quotes from primary sources (for example, interview transcripts or historical documents) are especially credible as evidence.

When presenting an author’s position or definition

When you’re referring to secondary sources such as scholarly books and journal articles, try to put others’ ideas in your own words when possible.

But if a passage does a great job at expressing, explaining, or defining something, and it would be very difficult to paraphrase without changing the meaning or losing the weakening the idea’s impact, it’s worth quoting directly.

A quote is an exact copy of someone else’s words, usually enclosed in quotation marks and credited to the original author or speaker.

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

Every time you quote a source , you must include a correctly formatted in-text citation . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style .

For example, a direct quote in APA is cited like this: ‘This is a quote’ (Streefkerk, 2020, p. 5).

Every in-text citation should also correspond to a full reference at the end of your paper.

In scientific subjects, the information itself is more important than how it was expressed, so quoting should generally be kept to a minimum. In the arts and humanities, however, well-chosen quotes are often essential to a good paper.

In social sciences, it varies. If your research is mainly quantitative , you won’t include many quotes, but if it’s more qualitative , you may need to quote from the data you collected .

As a general guideline, quotes should take up no more than 5–10% of your paper. If in doubt, check with your instructor or supervisor how much quoting is appropriate in your field.

If you’re quoting from a text that paraphrases or summarises other sources and cites them in parentheses , APA  recommends retaining the citations as part of the quote:

  • Smith states that ‘the literature on this topic (Jones, 2015; Sill, 2019; Paulson, 2020) shows no clear consensus’ (Smith, 2019, p. 4).

Footnote or endnote numbers that appear within quoted text should be omitted.

If you want to cite an indirect source (one you’ve only seen quoted in another source), either locate the original source or use the phrase ‘as cited in’ in your citation.

A block quote is a long quote formatted as a separate ‘block’ of text. Instead of using quotation marks , you place the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote to mark it apart from your own words.

APA uses block quotes for quotes that are 40 words or longer.

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McCombes, S. & Caulfield, J. (2022, September 03). How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA. Scribbr. Retrieved 19 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/working-sources/quoting/

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Direct quotes in APA Style

Published on November 12, 2020 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 16, 2022.

A direct quote is a piece of text copied word-for-word from a source. You may quote a word, phrase, sentence, or entire passage.

There are three main rules for quoting in APA Style:

  • If the quote is under 40 words, place it in double quotation marks .
  • If the quote is 40 words or more, format it as a block quote .
  • Cite the author, year, and page number with an APA in-text citation .

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Table of contents

Citing a direct quote, quoting a source with no page numbers, quoting 40 words or more (apa block quotes), making changes to direct quotes in apa, frequently asked questions about apa style.

To cite a quote in APA, you always include the the author’s last name, the year the source was published, and the page on which the quote can be found. The page number is preceded by “p.” (for a single page) or “pp.” (for a page range).

There are two types of APA in-text citation : parenthetical and narrative.

In a parenthetical citation, you place the entire citation in parentheses directly after the quote and before the period (or other punctuation mark).

In a narrative citation, the author(s) appear as part of your sentence. Place the year in parentheses directly after the author’s name, and place the page number in parentheses directly after the quote.

Remember that every in-text citation must correspond to a full APA reference at the end of the text. You can easily create your reference list with our free APA Citation Generator.

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Some source types, such as web pages , do not have page numbers. In this case, to cite a direct quote, you should generally include an alternative locator, unless the source is very short.

The locator may be a chapter or section heading (abbreviated if necessary), a paragraph number, or a combination of the two. Use whichever locator will help your reader find the quote most easily.

For sources such as movies , YouTube videos , or audiobooks, use a timestamp to locate the beginning of the quote.

  • Section heading
  • Paragraph number
  • Section and paragraph

If the quote contains 40 words or more, it must be formatted as a block quote. To format a block quote in APA Style:

  • Do not use quotation marks.
  • Start the quote on a new line.
  • Indent the entire quote 0.5 inches.
  • Double-space the entire quote.

Like regular quotes, block quotes can be cited with a parenthetical or narrative citation. However, if the block quote ends with a period, place the citation after the period.

  • Parenthetical

Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)

Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (p. 38)

Block quotes with multiple paragraphs

If the block quote contains multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph after the first.

Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary.

However, it is important not to rely on long quotes to make your point for you. Each quote must be introduced and explained or discussed in your own words. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)

In general, a direct quote should be an exact reproduction of the original. However, there are some situations where you may need to make small changes.

You may change the capitalization of the first word or the final punctuation mark in order to integrate the quote grammatically into your sentence, as long as the meaning is not altered.

Any other changes must be marked following these APA guidelines.

Shortening a quote

If you want to omit some words, phrases, or sentences from the quote to save space, use an ellipsis (. . .) with a space before and after it to indicate that some material has been left out.

If the part you removed includes a sentence break, add a period before the ellipsis to indicate this.

  • No sentence break
  • Sentence break

Clarifying a quote

Sometimes you might want to add a word or phrase for context. For example, if a pronoun is used in the quote, you may add a name to clarify who or what is being referred to.

Any added text should be enclosed in square brackets to show that it is not part of the original.

Adding emphasis to quotes

If you want to emphasize a word or phrase in a quote, italicize it and include the words “emphasis added” in square brackets.

Errors in quotes

If the quote contains a spelling or grammatical error, indicate it with the Latin word “sic”, italicized and in square brackets, directly after the error.

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To include a direct quote in APA , follow these rules:

  • Quotes under 40 words are placed in double quotation marks .
  • Quotes of 40 words or more are formatted as block quote .
  • The author, year, and page number are included in an APA in-text citation .

You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .

Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .

When you quote or paraphrase a specific passage from a source, you need to indicate the location of the passage in your APA in-text citation . If there are no page numbers (e.g. when citing a website ) but the text is long, you can instead use section headings, paragraph numbers, or a combination of the two:

(Caulfield, 2019, Linking section, para. 1).

Section headings can be shortened if necessary. Kindle location numbers should not be used in ebook citations , as they are unreliable.

If you are referring to the source as a whole, it’s not necessary to include a page number or other marker.

The abbreviation “ et al. ” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten APA in-text citations with three or more authors . Here’s how it works:

Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).

In an APA in-text citation , you use the phrase “ as cited in ” if you want to cite a source indirectly (i.e., if you cannot find the original source).

Parenthetical citation: (Brown, 1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) Narrative citation: Brown (1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) states that…

On the reference page , you only include the secondary source (Mahone, 2018).

In academic writing , there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:

  • To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay )
  • To give evidence from primary sources
  • To accurately present a precise definition or argument

Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize .

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McCombes, S. (2022, June 16). Direct quotes in APA Style. Scribbr. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/direct-quotes/

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In-Text Citations: The Basics

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Reference citations in text are covered on pages 261-268 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

Note:  On pages 117-118, the Publication Manual suggests that authors of research papers should use the past tense or present perfect tense for signal phrases that occur in the literature review and procedure descriptions (for example, Jones (1998)  found  or Jones (1998)  has found ...). Contexts other than traditionally-structured research writing may permit the simple present tense (for example, Jones (1998)  finds ).

APA Citation Basics

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, like, for example, (Jones, 1998). One complete reference for each source should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but  NOT  directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference.

On the other hand, if you are directly quoting or borrowing from another work, you should include the page number at the end of the parenthetical citation. Use the abbreviation “p.” (for one page) or “pp.” (for multiple pages) before listing the page number(s). Use an en dash for page ranges. For example, you might write (Jones, 1998, p. 199) or (Jones, 1998, pp. 199–201). This information is reiterated below.

Regardless of how they are referenced, all sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
  • If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source:  Permanence and Change . Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs:  Writing New Media ,  There Is Nothing Left to Lose .

( Note:  in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized:  Writing new media .)

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word:  Natural-Born Cyborgs .
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's  Vertigo ."
  • If the title of the work is italicized in your reference list, italicize it and use title case capitalization in the text:  The Closing of the American Mind ;  The Wizard of Oz ;  Friends .
  • If the title of the work is not italicized in your reference list, use double quotation marks and title case capitalization (even though the reference list uses sentence case): "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;" "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p." for a single page and “pp.” for a span of multiple pages, with the page numbers separated by an en dash).

You can introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

If you do not include the author’s name in the text of the sentence, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout, but do not add an extra blank line before or after it. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Because block quotation formatting is difficult for us to replicate in the OWL's content management system, we have simply provided a screenshot of a generic example below.

This image shows how to format a long quotation in an APA seventh edition paper.

Formatting example for block quotations in APA 7 style.

Quotations from sources without pages

Direct quotations from sources that do not contain pages should not reference a page number. Instead, you may reference another logical identifying element: a paragraph, a chapter number, a section number, a table number, or something else. Older works (like religious texts) can also incorporate special location identifiers like verse numbers. In short: pick a substitute for page numbers that makes sense for your source.

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference and may omit the page numbers. APA guidelines, however, do encourage including a page range for a summary or paraphrase when it will help the reader find the information in a longer work. 

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50 Inspirational Quotes on Writing

By barnes & noble press /, january 4, 2021 at 3:00 pm.

50 Inspirational Quotes on Writing

It’s a new year and, therefore, we want to help kick it off right with a collection of our favorite inspirational quotes on writing! We always start a new year with resolutions, but often it’s hard to stick with our goals. Certainly, that’s where we can come in 🙂

Above all, we hope these 50 Inspirational Quotes on Writing will keep you motivated and energized throughout 2021.

Inspirational Quotes on Writing: Imagination

Toni Morrison Quote

2. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” –  William Wordsworth

3. “The writer is an explorer. Every step is an advance into a new land.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” –  Joan Didion

5. “They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream by night.” – Edgar Allan Poe

6. “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” –  Gustav Flaubert

7. “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and look at it, until it shines.” –  Emily Dickinson

8. “That’s what you’re looking for as a writer when you’re working. You’re looking for your own freedom.” –  Philip Roth

9. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” –  George Bernard Shaw

Robert Greene Quote

10. “Creativity is a combination of discipline and childlike spirit.” –  Robert Greene

11. “Writing is the painting of the voice.” –  Voltaire

12. “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” –  Paulo Coelho

13. “I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere and it can do anything.” –  Alice Walker

Inspirational Quotes on Writing: Motivation

14. “Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself… it’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless.” – Harper Lee

Harper Lee Quote

15. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” –  Henry David Thoreau

16. “There are significant moments in everyone’s day that can make literature. That’s what you ought to write about.” –  Raymond Carver

17. “Keep asking questions because people will always want to know the answer. Open with a question and don’t answer it until the end.” –  Lee Child

18. “But when people say, did you always want to be a writer? I have to say no! I always was a write.” –  Ursula K. Le Guin

19. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” –  Maya Angelou

20. “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” –  Margaret Atwood

21. “You should write stories because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page.” –  Annie Proulx

Sylvia Plath Quote

23. “If you do not hear music in your words, you have put too much thought into your writing and not enough heart.” –  Terry Brooks

24. “If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.” –  H.G. Wells

25. “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” –  Tom Stoppard

26. “The secret of it all is to write… without waiting for a fit time or place.” –  Walt Whitman

27. “No one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” –  Charles de Lint

28. “Successful writing is one part inspiration and two parts sheer stubbornness.” –  Gillian Flynn

Lois Lowry Quote

30. “As a writer, you should not judge. You should understand.” –  Ernest Hemingway

31. “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” – Beverly Cleary

32. “When all else fails, write what your heart tells you. You can’t depend on your eyes, when your imagination is out of focus.”  Mark Twain

33. “Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Make some light.” –  Kate DiCamillo

Inspirational Quotes on Writing: Process

34. “A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” –  Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz Quote

35. “The first draft is you just telling yourself the story.” –  Terry Pratchett

36. “Write a page a day. Only 300 words and in a year you have written a novel.” –  Stephen King

37. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” –  Agatha Christie

38. “The job of the novelist is to invent: to embroider, to color, to embellish, to make things up.” –  Donna Tart

39. “Writing is an act of faith, not a grammar trick.” –  E.B. White

40. “Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” –  Phyllis Whitney

41. “The first draft is a skeleton. Just bare bones. The rest of the story comes later with revising.” –  Judy Bloom

42. “When you are describing a shape, or sound, or tint, don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint. And learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint.” –  Lewis Carroll

Jodi Picoult Quote

43. “You may not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

44. “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” –  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

45. “The secret to editing your work is simple: You need to become its reader instead of its writer.” –  Zadie Smith

46. “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” –  Shannon Hale

47. “Don’t labor over a little cameo work in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.” –  Joyce Carol Oates

Nora DeLoach Quote

48. “If you fall in love with the vision and not your words, the rewriting will become easier.” –  Nora DeLoach

49. “Be willing and unafraid to write badly, because often the bad stuff clears the way for good, or forms a base on which to build something better.” –  Jennifer Egan

50. “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” –  Ray Bradbury

To sum up, write it all down this year. After that, visit BNPress.com to become a published author! Importantly, we have plenty of tools to help new authors. From trusted partners to assist with editing, formatting, or design, to marketing and promotions. Each step of the way, we will be there to help.

And check out more from the B&N Press Blog:

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Writing FAQ

How to quote a book in my novel.

June 1, 2022

Asked by: Ryan Ryals

Do i need permission to quote a book in my book.

You DON’T need permission: To quote books or other works published before 1923 . For news stories or scientific studies . Shorter quotes, references and paraphrasing is usually ok without permission. Copying large amounts of a story or study, however, may require permission from the writer or publisher.

Can I use a quote in my novel?

If you’re seeking permission to quote from a book, look on the copyright page for the rights holder; it’s usually the author . However, assuming the book is currently in print and on sale, normally you contact the publisher for permission. You can also try contacting the author or the author’s literary agent or estate.

How do you quote a quote from a novel?

In American English, use double quotation marks for quotations and single quotation marks for quotations within quotations . In British English, use single quotation marks for quotations and double quotation marks for quotations within quotations.

Can I use someone quote in my book?

It’s perfectly okay to quote an excerpt of another author’s work in your writing, but it’s not always okay to do so without permission . If you don’t want to be sued for copyright infringement, it’s important to know when you need permission and when you don’t.

Can I use quotes without copyright?

How much of someone else’s work can I use without getting permission? Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes , for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports.

How do you publish a quote?

To register your quote, submit an application form, deposit and filing fee to the U.S. Copyright Office . You can submit an application online at Copyright.gov or you can mail a hardcopy. If the U.S. Copyright Office needs additional information, it will contact you.

How much can you quote without permission?

What is the amount and substantiality of the material used? The American Psychological Association allows authors to cite 400 words in single- text extracts, or 800 words in a series of text extracts , without permission (American Psychological Association, 2010).

How do you quote a book example?

To cite a book, you need a brief in-text citation and a corresponding reference listing the author’s name, the title, the year of publication, and the publisher . Citing a book in MLA Style.

How much can you copy without infringing copyright?

You may use up to 10%, but no more than 3 minutes, of a single movie, TV show or video . You may use up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds, of music and lyrics from a single musical work. You must purchase performance rights to hold a live performance of a copyrighted work.

How do I find out if a quote is copyrighted?

Go to the official website of the United States Copyright Office to use its online “Public Catalog Search” for works copyrighted after 1978 . Use the “Keyword” search field for phrases in copyright records. Surround the phrase with double quotation marks to search for the precise phrase.

Do I need to copyright my book before publishing?

Should I Register My Story for Copyright Before Submitting It to Publishers? You can register your book before submitting it to the publisher, but there is no need to do this . It may create unnecessary confusion and extra costs down the line.

Can I use quotes from the Internet?

If a quote was first published before 1923, then most likely its copyright has expired and the quote has fallen into the “public domain.” You may use it without getting permission .

Are book quotes copyrighted?

According to US copyright law, the legal rights to a quote belong by default to its author (or speaker). Quotes are considered intellectual property, which is protected under the law.

Can you quote a book on social media?

According to US copyright law, legal rights to a quote belong, by default, to the author or speaker . The quotes are considered intellectual property and protected under law. If you are not the original author of a quote, one of two things must be true to use it freely on social media.

Can I publish a book of quotes?

According to federal law, quotes are protected as intellectual property . According to this rule, people who do not own the original quote and you would like something else with it to sell without saying so must be sure it’s true.

Can you use quotes in low content books?

How do you start writing a quote?

To start an essay with a quote, introduce the quote by including the name of the author , such as, “John Keats once said…” When you include the quote, put quotation marks around it and make sure to put any punctuation inside the quotation marks.

Are anonymous quotes copyrighted?

Copyright law protects anonymous and pseudonymous works , so the author, whether they use their real name or not, still controls the copyright…

Can you avoid copyright by giving credit?

Giving proper credit is especially essential when you use copyrighted material for profit as part of your business, because you may be sued for copyright infringement. It’s a common misconception that simply giving credit is enough to avoid copyright infringement but this is not the case .

What is an anonymous author called?

In such cases the author is often referred to as Anonymus , the Latin form of “anonymous”. In other cases, the creator’s name is intentionally kept secret. The author’s reasons may vary from fear of persecution to protection of his or her reputation.

Can you publish copyrighted material?

Copyright is the exclusive legal right to print, publish, perform, film or record literary, artistic or musical material , and to authorize others to do the same. Usually, people need permission to reuse or republish a copyrighted work, but there are some exceptions.

How do you avoid copyright infringement when writing a book?

Fair Use . Under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright laws, you can use limited portions of a work, including quotes, without permission for certain purposes such as book reviews, classroom lessons, scholarly reports and news reports.

Do you need permission to write about someone in a book?

First, a simple rule. If what you write about a person is positive or even neutral, then you don’t have defamation or privacy issues . For instance, you may thank someone by name in your acknowledgements without their permission. If you are writing a non-fiction book, you may mention real people and real events.

What are the 4 fair use exceptions to copyright?

Since copyright law favors encouraging scholarship, research, education, and commentary, a judge is more likely to make a determination of fair use if the defendant’s use is noncommercial, educational, scientific, or historical .

What is the difference between copyright and fair use?

Fair use only goes as far as being able to use it without making money off of it. A copyright gives you full ownership of the work, allowing you to claim it as your own and potentially make money off of it.

What is the copyright golden rule?

Always show respect for other people’s copyright, and you should be able to expect the same in return . That’s the Golden Rule of copyright.

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How an Author Perfects her Dialogue

Kiley reid’s new book  come and get it  lets the characters speak at the top of their game..

Gabfest Reads is a monthly series from the hosts of Slate’s  Political Gabfest  podcast. Recently, David Plotz talked with Kiley Reid about her new novel,  Come & Get   It , and discussed how Reid gets her dialogue to sound so real.

This partial transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

David Plotz: I do think what makes your writing so singular and so distinctive is that you have an incredible ear. And I’m envious of it, as someone who’s been a writer for some of my life and never had an ear like that. How do you listen? How do you create these voices in your head?

Kiley Reid: It’s a bit of a game. Because as I’m sure that you’ve done, if you’ve transcribed anything because you’ve recorded something, you very quickly realize that we do not speak chronologically. We go off on tangents, we say, “um,” and “like,” and “oh my gosh.” And there’s a lot of things that we’re doing in between the things that we’re actually trying to say.

So, while I’m writing, getting hyper-realistic dialogue is really important to me, but it becomes a game of doing [two] things: One, it’s showing characters, for the majority of the book, at the top of their intelligence, showing their best selves—what they  think  is their best self. And number two, it’s making sure that their best self still isn’t grating to a reader.

When I’m doing interviews with students and getting inspiration, they may say ‘like’ or ‘um’ in the thousands. And so, I want to include some of those likes or ums, but I also don’t want to make fun of those students. This wasn’t a satire this time around, but I want to make it true. So, there’s a lot of give and take there.

I also think just being a writer, you need to put yourself in the position of being a listener and writing down something exactly the way you heard it. That’s the kind of things that I like to read.

Why do they have to be at the top of their game? Why is that important?

I think it’s important to be a democratic and generous writer. Otherwise, you look like you’re making fun of your characters. And I think every character can be interesting depending on the different light that they’re in. And I’m just not really super interested in fiction that says, look at these dumb kids. Especially because they’re not dumb. I want to see them at their best. And then later when they make mistakes, those mistakes hit a little bit harder.

I also feel like there’s a conjuring act here. Because as you said, I guess you wrote it in Iowa; you have lived in Philly; you’ve lived in Ann Arbor since you were in Fayetteville. But you’re conjuring up people who are just mostly Southern, and certainly are the kind of students who would be at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. How do you get back to them when you’re not with them?

I do a lot of interviews when I’m writing. And this time around I had a research assistant, and that was incredibly useful. I probably formally interviewed about 30 people and then maybe 20 others on top of that, just making sure I was getting things absolutely right.

So, I interviewed some old students, some of my friend’s students, people who went to Arkansas, people from Chicago, baton twirlers. I interviewed a number of people.

And people always ask me, “How do you get people to tell you things?” I’m sure you know people just like talking about themselves. And people were very gracious to me, and I’m really thankful for that.

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More From Forbes

The tragic ending of ‘one day’ explained: why emma’s fate was sealed.

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Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall) in "One Day" on Netflix.

Netflix’s adaptation of One Day is here just in time for Valentine’s Day. If you’re unfamiliar with how David Nicholls’ best-selling book ends, then there’s a good chance you’re gutted by the show’s devastating conclusion.

The series, based on Nicholls’ 2009 book of the same name , tells the story of a will-they-won’t-they love story between two friends over two decades. Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall) first cross paths on the night of their graduation from Edinburgh University on July 15, 1998. Although they spend an evening together, the pair goes their separate ways the next morning. In each episode of the series, viewers see Dex and Em, one year older, on this one particular date.

“It’s rare to be able to play the same character over 20 years. Every episode was like its own movie. There is a degree of isolation between each episode,” Mod told Forbes contributor Dana Feldman. “When we were filming, we didn’t have to think about the episode before or after it. Each existed in its bubble in a way. So, that was new structurally. It was a massive challenge but the writing was so good and I think the timing of the story unfolds in a way that just felt natural.”

Woodall added, “From Dexter’s point of view, true love was the one thing remaining in his life after all the mayhem that he chose to put himself through. He realized that the thing that mattered was being with the person that he wanted to be around all the time, which he knew was Emma. He wasn’t seeing it at the time because he was distracted and young. He goes off a bit and then realizes that companionship is one of the most important things in life.”

Nicholls’ novel has amassed a huge following, selling over 5 million copies worldwide in more than 40 languages. Before Netflix ordered the 14-part limited series, the book was adapted into a film in 2011 starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Nicholls serves as an executive producer on One Day, while Essie Davis, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, and Joely Richardson also star.

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Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, one day ending explained.

It’s time to get your tissues ready. Read on to take a deep dive into the ending of One Day, including what happens to Emma and Dexter at the end of the series . (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

When Do Emma and Dexter Get Together In One Day ?

Emma and Dexter finally get together in Episode 12, which takes place on July 15, 1999. The pair spend a day in Paris together, as Emma has been living there on a research trip, while Dex is recovering from his divorce from Sylvie.

Dex brings up their night together before Emma left London. When Dex attempts to kiss her, Emma turns him down and says she’s been seeing someone, which is when finally discuss the night they slept together. Emma tells him that they were intoxicated and he was upset, but Dex tells her that he hasn’t stopped thinking about her.

Emma offers to take Dex to dinner with her new boyfriend, Jean-Pierre, but he pretends not to feel well so they can go out without him. When Emma comes back by herself, the pair passionately hook up. Emma tells Dex that if he leads her or goes back to his old behavior, she will murder him, while Dex promises her that he won’t and that she can’t get rid of him.

In the following years, Emma and Dex are engaged and planning a wedding, and Emma tells Dex she wants to have a baby. The couple also plans to open a Parisian café and has agreed to move in together. However, their dreams are tragically shattered.

Does Emma Die In One Day ?

Ambika Mod as Emma in "One Day" On Netflix.

Although Emma and Dexter manage to share a few years of love and marriage — all of that comes to a devastating halt in Episode 13. On one July 15, Emma is hit by a car and killed while riding her bike. Emma’s death also occurs in the book and the 2011 film.

“I didn’t want to do that to her because I love her, and the audience does not want [that]. Everyone who read the book remembers how they felt when that happened. You just want to throw the book out the window,” showrunner Nicole Taylor told The Wrap .

Taylor said she even considered ending the series differently, “but fundamentally, that ending is stitched into the work as a whole.” She continued, “The story kind of has its own thematic integrity, it has its own structural integrity. I feel like the overall meaning of the piece requires that, and I felt like any changing of the ending would be gratuitous and undermine the overall impact of the piece so I think it was the right thing to have a good think about it, question it and not just take it as given.”

How does One Day end on Netflix?

Leo Woodall as Dexter in "One Day" On Netflix.

After Emma’s death, Dexter is filled with grief, and he resumes binge drinking while his life is spiraling around him. After getting drunk at a birthday party with his daughter, getting kicked out of a bar, and passing out on the door of his ex, Sylvie, he has a sentimental moment with his father, who tells him that he needs to live life as if Emma were still there.

One year later, Dex has his life back on track. His family, Tilly, and Emma’s ex, Ian, surprise him at his new flat. Dex and Ian have a heart-to-heart, and he wants Dex to know how much Emma loved him and how much he had meant to her. When everyone’s gone, Dex imagines Emma with him, telling him it’s okay to throw out her old things — except the photos. She also says that he’ll hurt less as time goes on.

“Thankfully, his relationship with his daughter is in a really good place at that point. You’re left knowing that he’ll always be grieving and missing her, but that he’s kind of come out of the tough stages of it,” Woodall told The Wrap about his character’s mindset a year after Emma’s passing. “He’s got his life back together and he’s gonna move on, move forward. as best he can.”

The final day in One Day is marked in 2007, and viewers see Dex return to the University of Edinburgh. The episode ends just like the premiere — with Dex and Jasmine walking up the cobbled steps in Scotland with the past and present intertwined. In the scene, they exchange numbers, but Dex gives Emma one more kiss goodbye. In an instant, Dexter is reliving all of their kisses, from the end to the beginning, before finishing with their first kiss.

All 14 episodes of One Day are streaming on Netflix.

Monica Mercuri

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'Today' Star Savannah Guthrie Gets Personal About Faith in Her New Book, 'Mostly What God Does'

The TV host goes deep about religion, family and stepping out of her comfort zone.

savannah guthrie and family

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She's most well-known for co-hosting the Today show, but she's also the author of two children's books — one of which is being turned into a Netflix series . If that wasn't enough, the mom-of-two just published another title, this time going even deeper with fans as she discusses her faith and how it influences her everyday life.

In Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere , Savannah uses a collection of personal essays to offer up a "spiritual manual" for readers to help guide them when they are feeling alone, frustrated or in need of some direction — regardless of where they are on their journey. From sharing anecdotes about her childhood to depicting vulnerable moments she has had as an adult, Savannah opens up about how during some of the hardest times in her life, she leaned on her faith to help her through.

But it's not just about leaning in when things are rough, she also wants to let her followers know how even in the quieter moments of life, there's always a place for faith.

Good Housekeeping had the opportunity to speak with Savannah about Mostly What God Does , where she discussed the personal nature of the project, motherhood and the hopes she has for readers as they delve into the book.

On writing a much more personal book after having coauthored two children's books:

It's exciting, terrifying and exhilarating. It's the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. But faith is at the core or what drives me and animates me and interests me. I'm nervous about it because it is really personal. When you write something like this, you hope that what you're writing is coming across in the way you hope it would, and that people will be touched by it. Plus, there's a lot about growing up and my life.

On the challenges of writing about faith and religion:

My first thought was, What business do I have writing about these topics ? I didn't go to seminary. I'm not a theologian. But what I am is a fellow traveler. I'm just another person trying to walk this journey, and that's the perspective I bring. It's like I say at the beginning of the book. Let's hold hands and do this together.

Mostly What God Does

Mostly What God Does

My second thought was, How can I write a book about faith and not ask some of the hardest questions that are out there? Like, why does suffering exist? Why is there injustice? Why do we live in a world that's full of sadness and pain? Those were the hardest chapters to write. And spoiler alert, there's no answer! I did not answer the greatest and most daunting questions of the universe! But I felt it was important to talk through how we deal with spirituality in our community.

At the same time, it's not a book to try to persuade or proselytize. It's a book about a connection to God that obviously comes from a Christian point of view. That is my faith. But I hope that it's just sharing some aspects of spirituality that are universal and appealing to people of all kinds of faith, or even no faith at all.

savannah guthrie with her husband and children

On how Savannah's faith relates to her parenting and influences her as a mother:

Everything flows through my faith. I'm not saying that makes me a pious and perfect person. It doesn't. And it's not like, "Oh, please, God, make them eat their broccoli more." What it means is, it's God I lean on when I have a problem at work or when I'm home with my kids, or for whatever it is. That's my core, my foundation, my comfort.

My sister, Annie , has the best line in the book when describing our family growing up. She said, "God was the sixth member of our family." So I'm trying to carry that on, you know, in my own family and in my own life.

Parenthood is such a profound spiritual experience. To me, it is the closest we could ever come to understanding the unconditional love God feels toward us. As parents, we love our kids and enjoy them and are crushed by their disappointments. When they do wrong, we don't change how we feel about them. And the same can be said for God's relationship with us.

On having her Today co-star Hoda Kotb by her side while writing the book:

Hoda’s the greatest cheerleader to have on your side. She’s been such an encourager since I even mentioned that I might do it. She’s like, "Oh, you’re doing it. You have to do it." She’s read quite a bit of it.

In the moments when I was wavering, "Oh, why am I doing this? It’s stupid," she just always told me, "No, you have to do this. You’re doing this. You’re going to do this."

It’s such a lucky situation, because you work with someone and to love them so much — we really have each other’s backs. I mean, that’s such a joy, especially when you’re getting up in the middle of the night to work. We’re so similar in so many ways. We became moms late in life, you know? Now, we’re doing these crazy hours.

On what Savannah hopes her fans take away from reading the book:

I just hope that for them, they feel connected to God. That’s really all I want to do. It’s uncomfortable to tell some of these personal stories … it’s not where I choose to be. But for me, it’s all in service of trying to put context to this walk with God. And that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in real life.

The least I can do is try to share how I experienced it, hoping that [the book] resonates for other people’s lives. It’s less about what they learned about me. It’s more just about how they connect and what they realize about themselves. And most importantly, what they realize about God and their connection and the possibility of a relationship with God.

On the lessons Savannah learned while writing the book:

I've always told people that if they want something interesting to happen, they have to step out of their comfort zone, and that's what I did with this book. The theme of the book is "Mostly what God does is love you," and I tried to look at my life, especially when things didn't go perfectly, with that perspective. You don't arrive at a destination. The path is the destination.

Mostly What God Does is on sale now.

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Good Housekeeping . Subscribe to Good Housekeeping here .

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