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How to Quote a Book

Last Updated: December 25, 2023 References

This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 509,749 times.

When you’re writing an essay, using a quote can help validate your argument and make your writing stronger. Whether your paper is required to be in MLA or APA format, it’s easy to quote and cite a book the right way.

Incorporating Quotations into Your Text

Step 1 Be clear why you are using a quotation.

  • Quotations are often used to support ideas that might be disputed or are not common knowledge. An idea like, “Most people never live to see 100,” doesn’t need to be backed up by a quotation, but something like, “Many writers have described the power of fiction,” should probably be supported with quotations.
  • One can sometimes emphasize a particular point by backing it up with a quotation from a particularly impressive author.
  • Quotations can also add stylistic flare to your prose. For example, a sentence like, “When Shakespeare “shuffled off this mortal coil,” he likely had no idea the impact his work would make on Western culture” is a bit more interesting than if the same sentence started simply, “When Shakespeare died…”

Step 2 Work them into your text so they read like normal sentences.

  • If you are having trouble deciding if you’ve incorporated a quotation correctly, try reading it aloud to yourself. It can be easier to tell if a sentence works when you speak it.
  • Some examples of verbs used in signal phrases are claims, adds, writes, argues, asserts, confirms, points out, admits, concludes, observes, and implies. [3] X Research source

Step 3 Use brackets and ellipses to add or subtract words.

  • Insert new words into quotations by putting them inside brackets.
  • Remove existing words by replacing them with an ellipsis.
  • Note that this is only appropriate if you maintain the basic meaning of the quotation. It should not be used to twist an author’s words into something other than what she intended.
  • As an example, one could change the Nabokov quotation, “…art--not an "escape" (which is only a cleaner cell on a quieter floor), but relief from the itch of being,” into the sentence, “…art [is] not an “escape”…but relief from the itch of being.”

Quoting Books in MLA Format

Step 1 Insert short quotations into the body of the paragraph.

  • Indent the whole quotation one inch from the left.
  • Double-space it (in an MLA style research paper, everything should be double spaced).
  • Do not use quotation marks.

Step 3 Include an in-text citation after the quotation.

  • For example: "Maybe the best definition of art is simply “beauty plus pity” (Nabokov 251)."
  • If you reference the author’s name before the quotation, you don’t need to repeat it in the parenthesis following the quote. For example: "Nabokov defined art as “beauty plus pity” (251)."

Step 4 Make a Works Cited page.

  • Double-space the page, but do not skip spaces between citations.
  • Do not indent the first line of each citation, but indent all subsequent lines by 0.5 inches from the left.

Step 5 Put the full citation in your Works Cited page.

  • There are many variations on this basic format based on factors like how many authors the book has, and whether it is something like anthology, an ebook, or a self-published book. If the book you are quoting does not fit neatly into this formula, consult a resource like The Purdue Online Writing Lab. [10] X Research source

Quoting Books in APA Format

Step 1 Insert short quotations into the body of the paragraph.

  • Indent the whole quotation 1/2 inch from the left.
  • Double-space it (in an APA style paper, everything should be double spaced).

Step 3 Use a parenthetical citation.

  • If the author’s name is not included in the signal phrase, include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number (all separated by commas) in the parenthetical citation following the quotation. For example: “He insists that “Quoting books is not difficult, but it can take time to get the hang of” (Smith, 2011, p. 15).”

Step 4 Make a reference list.

  • Double-space the page, like the rest of the paper, but do not skip spaces between citations.

Step 5 Put the full citation in your reference list.

  • There are many variations on this basic format based on factors like how many authors the book has, and whether it is something like anthology, an ebook, or a self-published book. If the book you are quoting does not fit neatly into this formula, consult a resource like The Purdue Online Writing Lab. [16] X Research source

Community Q&A

Community Answer

You Might Also Like

Cite a Book

  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/quotations
  • ↑ http://department.monm.edu/english/mew/signal_phrases.htm
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/06
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/05
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08

About This Article

Gerald Posner

If you want to use a quotation from a book when you’re writing an essay, try to work the quotation into the text as naturally as possible so it reads like a normal sentence. Connect the quote to the point you’re making by saying something like “Thoreau summed this up by saying…” or “Mark Twain once argued…” To make the quote as concise and relevant as possible, replace unnecessary passages with ellipses or use brackets to add or change words if necessary. For tips on citing your sources, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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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:

Punctuation

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

Capitalization

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.

--> “A wide screen just makes a bad film twice as bad.” -->

May Habib CEO, Writer.com

Here’s what else you should know about Ascending.

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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 “they 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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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.

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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

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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:

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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]

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Quotes can have an undeniable influence on writing and communication. Here, we will delve into the details about quotes and how to write. Keep reading to know how to write a quote in the writing world.

Adding quotes to the write-up is about concisely capturing the statement’s essence. Quotations have the power to inspire and persuade readers like nothing else. Whether a seasoned writer or a beginner, learn to write quotes. Effective formation will elevate your writing to new heights.

You may use quotes in a research paper, a piece of literature, a speech, or even a social media post. The art of writing compelling quotes can enhance your communication.

In this extensive guide, we will explore the art of crafting quotes. We will also seek how we use quotes in various writing contexts. We will guide you from understanding the basics to mastering advanced techniques.

Table of Contents

Understanding the basics of quotes

To learn the basics of quotes, one must first know the different types of quotes. There are two ways to incorporate someone else’s ideas into your writing.

Direct quotes

  • Indirect quotes

Direct quotes involve reproducing the exact wording or ideas of someone. We enclose these words in quotation marks, as they typically include proper attribution.

Word-to-word replication

Direct quotes are about reproducing exact words that came from the source. These words are enclosed in quotation marks to portray they are word-to-word of the primary source.

Use of quotation marks

Direct quotations came with double quotation marks (“-“).

Citing the source

One may relate the quotes with the primary source by providing the author’s name or publication date. Print sources may add page numbers, and a precise URL is an option for online sources.

Presentation of the original wording

Direct quotes can preserve the original wording, tone, or style. You may also put only actual quotes when paraphrasing can impact the meaning.

Direct quotes emphasise the credibility of the primary source. A source of credibility, especially in academic or research writing.

For instance, “Climate change is a global crisis that requires urgent action.” (Smith, 2020, page#56)

One may incorporate this quote in writing like this: According to Smith (2020), “Climate change is a global crisis that requires urgent action” (p.56).

Indirect quotes  

Indirect quotes (paraphrasing or reported speech) involve exactly some other source’s words. It will work to retain the original meaning of the context. It will require quotation marks with proper attribution.

Rephrasing the original

Indirect quotes involve rephrasing the primary source’s idea into your own words. The information is still related to the original but in your wording.

No quotation marks

There are no quotation marks in indirect quotes. You need to present the exact wording of the source.

Similar to direct quotes, cite the source of the information. You may mention the author’s name and publication date.

Summarization of ideas

Indirect quotes are there to summarise or clarify the source’s wording. If you want to integrate the original information into your write-up precisely.

Flexibility

Indirect quotations provide flexibility, incorporating the source’s information. While giving in your narratives, allowing smoother transitions and inculcation.

The primary difference between direct and indirect quotes is all about presenting the information from the source. Direct quotes reproduce the exact words enclosed in quotation marks. On the other hand, indirect quotes rephrase the information in your own words.

Citations and attributions

Always attribute quotes to their actual source. Using quotes without proper attributions is unethical and plagiarised content. Ensure you follow the appropriate citation style, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago. Give credit where it is due for academic and formal writing.

The power of quotes

Knowing how to do a written quote makes you instil complex ideas into words. Using quotes can make your writing accessible and relatable. A well-crafted quote can be a source of authority and credibility. Powerful writing may evoke strengthening emotions, leaving a lasting impression.

Quotes to write down: When to use them?

Knowing the incorporation of quotes into your writing is pivotal. Therefore, one must check some imperative considerations:

  • One may use quotes when they want to emphasise a point. In addition, if you’re going to highlight a critical thought in your text. Draw the reader’s attention towards something meaningful.
  • Quotation experts and credible sources to cushion the credibility of your write-up. Support your arguments and statements with reputable words.
  • Quotes usually convey complicated concepts concisely. Conciseness will replace lengthy explanations and make the statement readable.

Understanding the purpose of quotes

Quotes serve multiple purposes in communication:

Quotations may provide evidence for your argument. Ensuring support for your write-up claim.

Inspirational quotes come up with some motivational messages. Intriguing statements with catchy quotations will engage your audience.

Evoke emotion

Well-crafted quotes evoke emotions in the audience. Catchy quotations create a connection with your audience.

Memorability

Quotes are memorable and help people to memorise them for a long time. Some of these phrases have lasting effects on the audience’s mind.

How do you craft some memorable quotes?

Here, we will explore creating quotes that leave a lasting impression on your readers:

Identify your audience

Clarity and precision, authentic source and accuracy, originality and creativity, emotional impact, context matters, ethical considerations.

Before inducing any quote, determine your audience. Different quotations may resonate with other types of individual groups. Tailor your write-up accordingly.

One of the most authentic and compelling points is clarity and precision. Avoid exaggeration and something unreal. Keep your message clear and portray a straightforward idea.

Good quotes are always clear and concise. To portray clarity and conciseness, here is an excerpt:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci.

If you are quoting someone, you should ensure it is accurate enough. Attribute correctly, as misquoting can damage the credibility of the write-up.

Authenticity is essential for crafting something unique. Ensure your quotes align with the message you want to convey. Avoid cliches or forced expressions. The indulgence of quotations should be seamless.

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” – Shakespeare.

This quote accurately embraces authenticity and accuracy.

Being original always makes things stand out. Explore unique perspectives while using fresh ideas. Such as showing some original and creative approaches:

“If you want to be original, just try being yourself because God has never made two people exactly alike.” Unknown.

Original quotes are powerful and could be effective. Do not refrain from adapting famous quotes that fit in well.

Quotes have the power to impact emotions. Use imagery, metaphors, and suggestive language to create some emotional connection with readers.

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; it’s right to grieve.” Unknown

Such a quote evokes a sense of powerful emotion.

Quotes gain significance from the context one provides. Provide an explicit introduction or explanation that meets needs.

Be insightful for ethical considerations when the material is public. It may include journalism and academic writing. Ensure to maintain the integrity of the statement.

A quote’s effectiveness and long-lasting impact depend upon two accentuated factors: timing and relevance to the message. Leaving an impactful impression, engaging the audience, and illuminating the prominence of the main point all depend on how well chosen the quote is according to the goals.

No matter whether the focus is on crafting a persuasive argument or aiming to inspire the community, mastering and improving the art and skill of writing tremendous and meaningful quotes can highly increase efficiency in communicating abilities.

Strategies for effective integration

Creating an astonishing and memorable quote is undoubtedly an art, but their efforts are in vain if a cook doesn’t know about the presentation. Like this, integrating perfectly chosen quotes effortlessly into your writing and resting a perfect camouflage between the quote and the writing piece is another art.

Contextualising quotes

Context is vital when introducing a quote. The relevance of the passage and how it ties or puts together well explain the overall message.

“If you strongly believe in something, stand up and fight for it.”

This quote perfectly illustrates the topic of standing up for one’s self.

Transition phrases

Transition phrases are necessary to introduce quotes into the narrative. Abrupt shifts can disrupt the slim flow of the writing, so one should avoid it seriously.

Punctuation and formatting

Ensuring the use of proper punctuation while incorporating several quotes into your writing is highly vital. Consistent maintenance of professionalism in writing and clarity is achieved by using citation styles and question marks.

The art of sourcing quotes

After learning about crafting and integrating quotes, using them ethically should also be considered.    

Research and collection

Sourcing various quotes, relying only on reputable sources. Be particular in your research, and verify the authenticity of the quotations you use in your statements. Ethical and legal considerations should direct your choices.

Go through the work of some famous authors and thinkers. Deep reading will help for some insightful and impactful quotes.

Interviewing for quotes

If someone is working on some non-fiction, they, too, find some impactful quotes from interviewing. You may gather quotes meticulously from the subjects. Accurate transcription is pivotal to preserving the integrity of the quotes.

While interviewing, ask some open-ended questions to get some insightful responses. Ask thought-provoking things which may lead to meaningful quotes.

Polishing and review

We may refine the most valuable quotes with careful editing. Let’s explore how you make your writings stand out.

Proofreading and editing

After the final written work:

  • Review the quotes for further accuracy.
  • Ensure which quotes align with the tone and message you want to portray.
  • Read aloud for fluency and impact.

Feedback and review

Do ask for a review from your peers. Constructive criticism makes you enhance your writing as a whole. Share your work with helpful colleagues to obtain valuable feedback.

Quotes to make you smile?

In the chaos of life, smile quotes serve as gentle reminders to pause and smile. It will help to find joy in the world around us. Smile quotes inspire you to share your smiles and brighten your life. Here are some quotes that bring a smile to your face:

  • “Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

Nobel Peace Prize holder Mother Teresa elaborated on the importance of peace. She depicted in simple words the power of a smile. She explained how a smile can create a positive and peaceful environment around you.

  • “Life is better when you are laughing” – Unknown.

Laughter works as a medicine and soothes your soul. Smile has the remarkable ability to deal with the most challenging times of life. It can make you feel better and lighter. Do laugh heartily to forget the chaos of life.

  • “You are never fully dressed without a smile.” – Martin Charnin.

Whatever you are wearing, a smile completes your look. Smile is a universal accessory that may always stay in style. A smile suits everyone, so wear it proudly.

  • “The shortest distance between two people is a smile.” – Victor Borge.

Smile works as a bridge to connect people. Regardless of language or culture, a smile can cover gaps. Remember to laugh heartily as goodwill.

  • “Smile, it’s free therapy.” – Douglas Horton.

Smile is a priceless therapy. Life is not easy for all. Everyone is going through their battles. A smile on your face can be healthier and a kind gesture for others. It is a simple and effective way to lift the mood.

Quotes to make you think

Thought-provoking quotes are usually about self-awareness, social responsibility, and perseverance. It deals with the complexities of human existence. These quotes inspire people to consider the deeper aspects of life.

Here are some insightful quotes that may encourage deep reflection:

  • “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates

A timeless quote from ancient Greek philosophers reminds us of the complex realities of life. He believes that wisdom encourages humility. It comes with the willingness to continue the learning process.

  • “In three words, I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost

It is a compound statement articulating that life is an ongoing journey. As human beings, we must be adaptable to deal with things and move forward. One should move one despite any complex circumstances.

  • “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine.

The quote encourages that one should explore the world. It comes with the idea of learning from diverse cultures. Travelling around and exploring the globe offers a lot of experiences.

  • “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you someone else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is a world where the writer invites you to embrace your individuality. One should resist societal pressure and embrace the opportunities for self-growth.

Quotes Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn is a well-known historian and social activist. His words encompass critical perspectives on history and society. Here are some of his quotes which reflect his views on various topics:

  • “You can not be neutral on a moving train.”

This quote emphasises Zinn’s grave belief the world is filled with societal and political issues. In this scenario, remaining neutral is not an option. He encouraged individuals to engage and take a severe stance on crucial matters actively.

  • You can not have a war on terrorism because war itself is terrorism, just in another form.”

Zinn spoke openly against the “war on terror” due to its destructive nature. He understood armed conflict and its impact on civilised populations. He was actively against war due to its long-term physical and psychological harm to human capital.

  • History is important. If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday.”

Learning about past societies, ideologies, and cultures is essential. Zinn’s commitment to studying and understanding history makes him believe this knowledge is pivotal for an equitable society.

  • When multiplied by millions of people, small acts can quietly become a power no government can surpass, a force that can transform the world.”

In this quote, Zinn talks about the potential of collective action. Small efforts altogether can result in significant social change. Small steps may draw attention to massive injustices and influence society’s transition.

Zinn was sceptical of the government’s actions. He believed that ordinary people’s power could become a collective effort. His quotes are effective for those who want to see the world as a more just and equitable place.

Quotes to write down

Good quotations have the power to shape a mindset. It will boost your mental well-being and hone some positive things. Incorporating meaningful quotes in your daily life can have some positive impact while fostering personal growth.

Here are some thought-provoking and insightful quotes depicting some inspiration or reflection:

  • “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney.
  • “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” – James Cameron.
  • “Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin.
  • “It’s during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle.
  • “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs.
  • “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon.
  • “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela.
  • “The journey of the thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu
  • “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll.
  • “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confusions.

Quotes to write on birthday card

Choose amazing quotes that resonate with most of your wishes for the birthday person. Along with quotes, you may add some personal touch to make the birthday wishes special.

Birthday quotes should be heartfelt and cheerful, which makes the recipient feel special. Here, we will provide heart-touching quotes for your loved ones.

  • “May the joy you have spread in the past return to you on this day. Wishing you a very happy Birthday.”
  • “Birthdays are a natural way of telling us to eat more cake! Enjoy every delicious moment of your special day.”
  • “May your birthday be the start of a year filled with luck, good health, and much happiness.”
  • “Another year older, wiser, and more fabulous! Here’s to your special day.”
  • “May your day be filled with laughter, love, and the company of good friends. Happy Birthday!”
  • “Wishing you a year filled with new adventures, memorable moments, and all the happiness in the world. Happy Birthday.”
  • “May your birthday be the start of the year filled with good luck, good health, and much happiness.”
  • “As you blow your candles, may all the happiness come to you and all your wishes come true. Happy Birthday.”
  • “A year older, a year bolder. Keep shining and spreading your incredible light. Happy Birthday”
  • “To the world, you may just be one person, but to me, you are the world. Happy Birthday, dear friend.”

Quotes to write to your boyfriend

One may write some heartfelt and romantic quotes to your boyfriend. It will express your love and appreciation for them. You may feel free to personalise particular sections reflecting your emotions.

Sharing your feelings and appreciation using thoughtful or romantic words can strengthen the relationship. Even a few heartfelt words can make your bonding more special. One may express their love by using the following quotes:

  • “In you, I have found my most faithful friend, the love of my life.”
  • “My love for you grows stronger with each passing day. You are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
  • “You complete me in every way, and I am grateful to have you in my life.”
  • “I love you more than I can ever say. You are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me.”
  • You are the reason behind my smiles and my happiness. I love you endlessly.”

 How to write quotes from a book?

When you need to write quotes from a book, learn its basics. Doing so accurately and ethically while adhering to citation style is essential. Choose an appropriate citation style for your context, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.

Check the specific citation style guidelines that you follow. Different styles may have variations in deciding how to format and cite quotes.

Select the quote

Choose a specific quote or passage from the sentence from the book of your choice. Select a section that should be relevant to your purpose. Selected course should support your argument and add value to your work.

Accurately attribute the quote to the correct author. Provide the publication year, and include the relevant page number if applicable. Correctly citing your sources gives credit to the original author and ensures credibility to your work.

Enclose the quote in quotation marks

While including the quote in your text, one should hold it in double quotation marks.

Provide attribution

After the quoted material, have:

  • Author’s name
  • Publication year of the book
  • Page number (if applicable)

The format may vary depending on the citation style you are using:

  • APA style: Author’s last name, Year, Page number.
  • MLA style: Author’s name, Page number.
  • Chicago style: Author’s last name, Page number)

Use ellipses for omissions

If you want to omit a part of the quote, use three ellipses points (…) for indication. The omission is there, but it is to keep the quote’s meaning intact.

Insert bracketed information

If you need to add explanations or clarification within the quote, enclose them in square brackets. Ensure that your chosen selection makes sense in your writing context.

Maintain original spelling and grammar

Preserving the original spelling, grammar, and punctuation is essential while writing. If there is a clear error in the original text, indicate the error but present it as real.

How should a quote be written?

Follow the given steps for a quote to be written:

Use quotation marks

When including a quotation in writing, quotation marks are crucial. Envelop the quote in double quotation marks(“-“)

The author’s name and the year of publication year of the source, only if it is applicable, should be immediately provided after mentioning the selected quoted material.

Maintain original wording

Preserving the original wording, spelling, grammar, and punctuation of the passage destined to be quoted is essential. Changes are only advised on the condition of necessity for clarity and indication of any alterations using square brackets.

If a particular part of a quote is omitted for brevity, using three ellipses points is highly preferred (…) to indicate omission. This practice is harmless if the meaning of the quote remains untouched.

If we need explanations or clarifications within the quote, we must enclose it in square brackets. This stereotypical practice ensures that the quotation makes enough sense in the context of your writing.

Integrate smoothly

The introduction of a quote should be done so that it blends and integrates into the text seamlessly.

The use of applicable and appropriate lead-in phrases and sentences is beloved to provide the context with the gift of the quote and to provide it with a perfectly put explanation of its relevance to its origin, which is your argument or narrative.

Cite the source

The citation of the source should always be done to give deserved credit to the original creator of the masterpiece, the author, and to ensure the smooth integrity of the work.

Punctuation

Punctuation is oxygen for inserting quotes, and punctuation is needy and desperate for attention. If the quote ends in a period, one should place it in the closing quotation mark.

If the quote ends with a question or exclamation mark, it should be placed inside the closing quotation mark because it is part of the original text; otherwise, one should place it outside the closing quotation mark.

Are quotes supposed to be italicised?

Italics are for longer quotations when quoting statements from a book, poem, or play. One may use italics for emphasis within a quote. For instance:

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)

Here, they emphasised that we finish the project on time.

Italics are for longer quotations or emphasising specific phrases within a quote. The choice between quotation marks and italics depends on the style you may be writing or following. Stay consistent with your chosen style throughout your document.

In the writing world, mastering the art of quotes and how to write is a worthwhile learning journey. Crafting quotes is an art; therefore, one must integrate them seamlessly. After learninghow to do a written quote, you may use this knowledge effectively in various writing styles and genres.

How to write up a quote, understand the types of sections, and when to use them. Craft quotes with clarity, authenticity, and emotional impact. Source quotes ethically, with proper formatting.

Be mindful of misattribution. Apply some quote writing skills across different writing skills. How should a quote be written? Mastering the art of writing quotes takes practice. Keep writing to refine your skills.

Whatever quote you create, you must have the potential to engage and inspire readers. Writing encapsulates profound wisdom and inspiration with carefully chosen words. Whether you decide quotes to write on birthday cards or quotes to make you smile, they must leave a mark on the hearts and minds.

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Writing Quotes: 101 Quotes for Writers to Inspire You

Need a little motivation to write? These 101 Quotes for Writers from best selling authors are sure to inspire you!

how to write a quotes book

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Sharing is caring!

Today I wanted to share a great round-up of my favorite writing quotes for writers, because sometimes it can be just that little bit of motivational inspiration you need to keep going.

An encouraging word from a published author is always reassurance that the madness of sitting at your laptop typing words for hours is worth the sacrifice!

famous writer quotes

We can also learn a lot about how to write from these famous author quotes included in this list of quotes about writing! Many of these quotes come from well known authors who share their best tips, advice, and secrets to learn all about writing.

While these quotes are no substitute for taking an online writing class, you’ll definitely find some inspiration here!

From tips for staying motivated to inspiring ideas for how to develop great characters in your writing, you are sure to find a lot of great writing advice to be found in these words of wisdom from successful authors!

Here are 101 Writing Quotes for Writers

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” – Anne Lamott

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” – Ayn Rand

“Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.” – W.H. Auden

“There are reasons people seek escape in books, and one of those reasons is that the boundary of what can happen is beyond what we do – or would want to see in real life.” – James Patterson

writing quote

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.” –  William H. Gass

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” – Flannery O’Connor

Writing Advice Quotes: Tips to Write Better from Writers

“Always be a poet, even in prose.” – Charles Baudelaire

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” – Frank Herbert

“I almost always urge people to write in the first person. … Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it.” – William Zinsser

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” –  Ray Bradbury

“There is only one plot — things are not what they seem.” – Jim Thompson

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” – Stephen King

“You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying in the road.” – Richard Price

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Frost

“You always get more respect when you don’t have a happy ending.” – Julia Quinn

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson

untold story writing quote

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

“The secret of good writing is telling the truth.” – Gordon Lish

“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

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” –  Dr. Seuss

Quotes About Creativity and Finding Inspiration as a Writer

creativity quotes for writers

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” – Willa Cather

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury

“And by the way, 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.” – Sylvia Plath

“I start with a question. Then try to answer it.” – Mary Lee Settle

toni morrison writing quotes

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

“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

Hobbes: Do you have an idea for your story yet? Calvin: No, I’m waiting for inspiration. You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. Hobbes: What mood is that? Calvin: Last-minute panic. – Bill Watterson

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

“Love is the only energy I’ve ever used as a writer. I’ve never written out of anger, although anger has informed love.” – Athol Fugard

writing quote hemingway

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway

“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

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde

“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 Card

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.” – Ray Bradbury

“Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” – Willa Cather

Quotes On Writing for Children

“Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.” – Judy Blume

“I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh, you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true, you tell them.” – Maurice Sendak

“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

“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.” – Isaac Asimov

“Many adults feel that every children’s book has to teach them something…. My theory is a children’s book… can be just for fun.” – R.L. Stine

“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.” – Margaret Wise Brown

“I know what I liked as a child, and I don’t do any book that I, as a child, wouldn’t have liked.” – H. A. Rey

“I’m very lucky to write for children, because I don’t have to deal with popular culture. I can just deal with core fundamental issues: jealousy, love, hatred, sadness, joy, wanting to drive a bus.” – Mo Willems

“I’ve always been into ‘fast-paced, don’t bore ’em, keep it moving along, stick with the story.’ You know: tell a story the way I want to hear a story. I find it more rewarding to write for kids, but I also find it a little easier, because you can just let loose a little bit more in terms of fantasy and stuff.” – James Patterson

Quotes from Writers About Reading and Books

You’ll probably notice a common theme about all of these next quotes from writers – if you wish to write a book, you better get reading! Here are some of our favorite quotes about reading and books from a variety of authors.

“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

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” – J.D. Salinger

“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

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.” – Mary B. W. Tabor

“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

Motivational Quotes for Writers

“The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’ Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.” – Charles Dickens

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” – Neil Gaiman

“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

“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” – Tim O’Brien

“You can make anything by writing.” – C.S. Lewis

“You can fix anything but a blank page.” – Nora Roberts

“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.” – George Singleton

“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” –  Edgar Rice Burroughs

“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

Writing Quotes About Not Giving Up

These writing quotes about not giving up are a good thing to remember when you start submitting your manuscript to publishers ! It’s easy to want to give up, but it is worth the trials and tribulations to keep working at becoming a successful published author.

“Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.” – Mark Twain

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.” – Ralph Keyes

Writing Quotes About Editing and Revising

“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

“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”  – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”  – Stephen King

“Half my life is an act of revision.” –  John Irving

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“Good writing is rewriting.” – Truman Capote

“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

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh

“Most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers.” – T.S. Eliot

“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

More Great Quotes for Writers

“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” – John Green

“I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.” – Isaac Asimov

“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

“Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan

“A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.” – Lorrie Moore

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anaïs Nin

“The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“A person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill.” – Jane Austen

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” – Stephen King

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.” – Sylvia Plath

“Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves.” – Alan W. Watts

“I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something.” –   Isabel Allende

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” – Blaise Pascal

“A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibilities of their own souls.” – Walt Whitman

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” – E.B. White

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” – Robert Benchley

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

“There is no such thing as fantasy unrelated to reality.” – Maurice Sendak

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.” – Sidney Sheldon

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley

“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

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.” – Roald Dahl

What are your favorite writing quotes?

After reading these writing quotes, do you have a favorite? Which ones inspire you to start writing? Are there any quotes that offer writing tips you find useful? Are there any writing quotes you like that we may not have included on this list?

Your thoughts, comments, suggestions and ideas are always welcome in the comments section below!

Chelle Stein wrote her first embarrassingly bad novel at the age of 14 and hasn't stopped writing since. As the founder of ThinkWritten, she enjoys encouraging writers and creatives of all types.

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Using Literary Quotations

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

Download this Handout PDF

Introduction

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 ]

Punctuation

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).

Indentation

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)

Documentation

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.

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Academic and Professional Writing

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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.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & Caulfield, J. (2022, September 03). How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA. Scribbr. Retrieved 6 May 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/working-sources/quoting/

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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!

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  • 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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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

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50+ Inspiring Quotes About Writing and Writers

by Joe Bunting | 6 comments

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The best way to become a better writer is to write   and then to  publish   your writing, whether you publish it on a blog, in a book, or with a close friend. It's only by practicing writing, and getting feedback on it, that you can improve.

37+ Quotes about How to Become a Writer

That being said, it never hurts to learn from those who have gone before you, and over the years, we've compiled a lot of excellent advice from the best writers on how to become a better writer.

My Top 5 Writing Quotes:

“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

  • “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” —Somerset Maugham
  • “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.” —Gloria Steinem
  • “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” —Anais Nin
  • “Get through a draft as quickly as possible.” —Joshua Wolf Shenk

Favorite Quotes from Writers in Our Community

I asked authors in our community for their favorite quotes on writing or being a writer, and here's what they sent me.

1. How You Write a Book, According to Neil Gaiman

From Carole Wolfe, author of  My Best Mistake ,  and M MacKinnon, author of  The Comyn's Curse :

Writing Quotes - The Write Practice

2. Why We Write, According to Walt Whitman

From Melanie Lambert, author of Wonder Woman in Disguise :

Walt Whitman Writing Quote The Write Practice

“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering… these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.”

― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

3. What You Must Write, According to Toni Morrison

From Michelle Dalton, author of  Epona , and Joslyn Chase, author of  Steadman's Blind :

Toni Morrison Writing Quote The Write Practice

4. How to Write the Right Word, According to Mark Twain

From Ichabod Ebenezer, author of  A Shadow Stained in Blood :

Mark Twain Writing Quote The Write Practice

5. What Writing Is, According to Isaac Asimov

From Jeff Elkins, author of  Grab :

Isaac Asimov Writing Quote The Write Practice

6. On the Path to Writing Success, According to Octavia E. Butler

From S.J. Henderson, author of  Daniel the Drawer :

Octavia E Butler Writing Quote The Write Practice

“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

7. Why We Doubt Our Own Writing, According to Ira Glass

From Ross Boone, author of  The Absent Landlord : 

Ira Glass Writing Quote The Write Practice

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. . . . For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. . . . But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.” —Ira Glass

8. Why Writing Requires Empathy, According to John Barth (and Sarah Gribble)

From Sarah Gribble, author of  The Hike :

Sarah Gribble Writing Quote The Write Practice

“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” John Barth

In other words:

More Favorite Writing Quotes

Need more writing quotes? Read on for more of our favorites:

9. Why You Became a Writer, According to Gloria Steinem

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. Gloria Steinem

10. Why You Became a Writer, According to George Orwell

You write out of the desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one. George Orwell

“[You write out of the] desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one.” —George Orwell

11. Why You Became a Writer, According to Anaïs Nin

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. Anais Nin

12. That Doesn't Mean Writing Is Easy

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

13. Start Writing Now

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. Louis L'Amour

Need more grammar help?  My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid . Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 25 percent off:  WritePractice25

14. And Write Quickly

15. what to write about.

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open. Natalie Goldberg

“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. Be Willing to Write Badly

Be willing to write really badly. Jennifer Egan

17. Don't Doubt Yourself

The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt. Sylvia Plath

18. All Great Writers Are a Little Crazy

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis. William Styron

“The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis.” —William Styron

19. The Only Way to Fail As a Writer…

You fail only if you stop writing. Ray Bradbury

20. Just Write One True Sentence

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Writer the truest sentence that you know. Ernest Hemingway

21. Just Write Something Simple

One day I will find the write words, and they will be simple. Jack Kerouac

22. Your Big Ideas are Worthless

Ideas are cheap. It's the Execution that is all important. George R.R. Martin

23. Really  Worthless

It doesn't matter how many book ideas you have if you can't finish writing your book. Joe Bunting

(I don't consider myself the equal of George R.R. Martin, Ernest Hemingway, or Sylvia Plath… yet… but this quote seemed important to include.)

24. Don't Let Anything Interfere With Your Writing

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

“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

25. Keep At It

I believe myself that a good writer doesn't really need to be told anything except to keep at it. Chinua Achebe

“I believe myself that a good writer doesn't really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” —Chinua Achebe

26. Write Even When the World is Chaotic

Write even when the world is chaotic. Cory Doctorow

27. The Mark of a Master Writer

The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but to give us a lifetime. Robert McKee

“The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but to give us a lifetime.” —Robert McKee

28. No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

29. stay drunk on writing.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. Ray Bradbury

30. Writing is like kissing

I can't write without a reader. It's precisely like a kiss—you can't do it alone. John Cheever

31. Don't Make a Chore for Your Readers

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.” —Dr. Seuss

32. Show, Don't Tell

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekhov

33. How to Develop Your Own Style

It is only be writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style. PD James

34. Writing is More Difficult for Us

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Thomas Mann

35. No One Knows the Rules

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. Somerset Maugham

36. The best way to become a writer

The best way to be a writer is to be a writer. Augusten Burroghs

37. Always Listen to Ben Franklin

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Benjamin Franklin

38. Your Words Have Power

how to write a quotes book

39. Chase Your Dream

how to write a quotes book

40. Writing in the Dark

how to write a quotes book

41. Turn the Monsters Loose

how to write a quotes book

42. Stories Are All Around You

how to write a quotes book

43. Write Now

how to write a quotes book

44. The Secret Professional Writers Know

how to write a quotes book

45. Follow Your Hero

how to write a quotes book

46. Exercise Your Writing Muscle

how to write a quotes book

47. But Actually, Exercise Your Writing Muscle

how to write a quotes book

“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

48. Your Writing Is Your Strength

how to write a quotes book

49. The Real Challenge: Avoiding Distraction

how to write a quotes book

50. Just Tell a Story

how to write a quotes book

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.” —Edgar Rice Burroughs

51. Perseverance Is Key

how to write a quotes book

52. Your Villains Think They've Got it Right

how to write a quotes book

53. Write First, Edit Later

how to write a quotes book

54. Your Hero's Job

how to write a quotes book

55. Plan, Then Adjust

how to write a quotes book

56. Read, Read, Then Read Some More

how to write a quotes book

57. How to Keep Your Readers Hooked

how to write a quotes book

Which quote is your favorite?  Let us know in  the comments .

Write something worth reading! Spend fifteen minutes free writing or working on a work in progress. As you write, channel the advice from the great writers above.

When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section .

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

The 7 Components of a Fail Proof Book Plan

This happened while I was working on the day I wrote this. Since the prompt was so open ended, I decided to write about the tough day. I don’t really know why I chose not to give him a name; it’s just something I felt like trying.

Susan W A

Good job, mama. Magical times. Do you create bedtime stories for your son? My son (who is 13 now) used to tell me, “Mama, make up a story for me.” I was terrible at it. If that’s something you can do, even if you aren’t able to write them down, that will be your writing practice for the day AND an amazing connection with and gift for your son. Also, be sure to relish in his language development; this is the perfect time to notice his amazing leaps forward. If you haven’t explored using sign language with little kids, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to support their language development. If you have a moment (yeah, right, didn’t you hear I have a two-year-old?), check out http://www.signingtime.com/company/about-us/story/

Caritha Marks

Thanks for the wonderful tips. I think making up stories for your child is a great idea. I did try a little signing with my son, unfortunately, I didn’t get past the first ten essentials. I was actually hoping to learn this new language with him, but I didn’t fight hard enough for it. Of course, it’s never too late to start again. Thanks!

Joy

I really liked this, David! It flows very easily “Writing free or freely writingIs writing ever really free?” I love that! Writing has a cost, a cost that’s worth it.

-Spring Storm-

Raindrops hit my window and glide down the glass. A flash of lighting. A roar of thunder. The evergreen tree sways in the wind. The weather alarm sounds its obnoxious alert; there’s a hail advisory. The trees in the distance are gray and blurred against the rain-hazed sky. A lone leaf spirals to the ground. pitter patter… A thousand tiny hailstones land on the fresh spring grass and clink against my window. The window is smeared as if I’m wearing someone else’s glasses. A car drives up the street, water spraying from under its tires. The rain falls gently now. The grass brightens and puddles of water dot the yard. There’s a pastel blue sky. Soft. Hopeful. The storm has left me.

Leela Panikar

Yes, Chekhov the best advice.

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45+ Quotes About Writing from Famous Writers

Whether seasoned and published or just starting out, any writer will appreciate these quotes about writing from celebrated authors who know their craft and its challenges.

45+ Quotes About Writing from Famous Writers

No matter how passionate you are about it, writing can be difficult. Whenever you’re struggling with writer’s block, rejection, competition, insecurity, or any of the countless obstacles that wordsmiths encounter daily, it can help to get encouragement from those who have successfully overcome the very same challenges.

So, whether you’re up against a creative wall or just looking for some inspiration to start your next project, these quotes about writing from writers themselves are sure to be welcome reading! 

Inspirational Quotes from Writers  

Trying to get psyched up to sit down and write? It can be reassuring to hear the words of literary greats celebrating a few of the very best parts of being a writer. 

1. “And by the way, 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.” — Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

2. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly—they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” — Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

3. “Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

4. “What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing

5. “Stories aren't made of language: they're made of something else... perhaps they're made of life.” — Philip Pullman, Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling

infographic-writing-post-1

6. “There is no greater power on this earth than story.” — Libba Bray, The Diviners

7. “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” — Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

8. “We turn to stories and pictures and music because they show us who and what and why we are, and what our relationship is to life and death, what is essential, and what, despite the arbitrariness of falling beams, will not burn.” — Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

infographic-writing-post-2

9. “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.” — Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

10. “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” — Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

11. “First, you write for yourself... always, to make sense of experience and the world around you. It’s one of the ways I stay sane. Our stories, our books, our films are how we cope with the random trauma-inducing chaos of life as it plays.” — Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run

Encouraging Quotes for Writers  

Some of the most famous quotes from writers are about how ridiculously hard writing can be—and why you should rise to the challenge and do it anyway. 

12. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

13. “And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.” — Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

14. “If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.” — Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

15. “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” — Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

infographic-writing-post-3

16. “The mind has plenty of ways of preventing you from writing, and paralysing self-consciousness is a good one. The only thing to do is ignore it, and remember what Vincent van Gogh said in one of his letters about the painter's fear of the blank canvas—the canvas, he said, is far more afraid of the painter.” — Philip Pullman, Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling

17. “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” — Sol Stein, Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies

18. “Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?” — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing

19. “Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.” — Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Quotes About the Writing Process

From writers who know the drill, these quotes offer valuable insights and practical advice on the craft of writing, and the discipline and rigor it requires. 

20. “Examine every word you put on paper. You'll find a surprising number that don't serve any purpose.” — William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Audio Collection

21. “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” — William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style

22. “The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle.” — Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

infographic-writing-post-4

23. “People who think that grammar is just a collection of rules and restrictions are wrong. If you get to like it, grammar reveals the hidden meaning of history, hides disorder and abandonment, links things and brings opposites together. Grammar is a wonderful way of organising the world how you'd like it to be.” — Delphine de Vigan, No and Me

24. “Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.” — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

25. “Whenever I'm asked what advice I have for young writers, I always say that the first thing is to read, and to read a lot. The second thing is to write. And the third thing, which I think is absolutely vital, is to tell stories and listen closely to the stories you're being told.” — John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

26. “A great novel, rather than discouraging me, simply makes me want to write.” — Madeleine L’Engle, A

27. “I read and feel that same compulsion; the desire to possess what he has written, which can only be subdued by writing something myself.” — Patti Smith, M Train

infographic-writing-post-5

28. “Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” — Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

29. “If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.” — Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

30. “The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis.” — William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Audio Collection

31. “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” — Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

32. “One writes out of one thing only—one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.” — James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

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33. “We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.” — Chris Cleave, Little Bee

34. “A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders.” — John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Funny Quotes About Writing

Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of a third, fourth, or fifth edit and ready to throw in the towel, what you need most is a good laugh, courtesy of someone who understands your plight. 

35. “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” — Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

36. “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, A Man Without a Country

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37. “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter anymore, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn't work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right just before they go on to the next one. When they're done, they're done." — Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

38. “I’m sure I could write endlessly about nothing. If only I had nothing to say.” — Patti Smith, M Train

39. “You want to tell a story? Grow a heart. Grow two. Now, with the second heart, smash the first one into bits. Gross, right? A bloody pulpy liquid mess. Look at it, try to make sense of it. Realize you can't. Because there is no sense.” — Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

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40. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Quotes About Writers

Many artists draw much of their inspiration from introspection, and writers are no different. These quotes feature sayings about writers from the ultimate authority: writers themselves.  

41. “If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.” — Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm

42. “Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Love of the Last Tycoon

43. “A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” — Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

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44. “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” — Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

45. “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” — E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

46. “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” — Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

47. “We never sit anything out. We are cups, quietly and constantly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” — Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Becoming a writer is especially difficult if you don’t know where to start. To help, we’ve rounded up advice from several authors on starting out as a writer. Take a look at our infographic below to learn what these wordsmiths think you should do to kick off your writing career.

Click to view a full sized writing quotes graphic .

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What to Write in a Book As a Gift: 40 Bookish Inscription-Ready Quotes

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Stacey Megally

Stacey Megally is a writer, runner, and incurable bookworm. Her writing has been featured in The Dallas Morning News, Running Room Magazine, The Bookwoman, and on stage at LitNight Dallas and the Oral Fixation live storytelling show. When she isn’t knee-deep in words or marathon training, she’s hanging out with her smart, funny husband and their two extremely opinionated dogs. Instagram: @staceymegallywrites

View All posts by Stacey Megally

Is there any better gift than a book all wrapped up with a bow? The new-book smell and possibility of an unforgettable story are just the beginning. There’s also the hours of curling up with it, the thoughts and characters that stay with you long after—and of course, remembering the person who got it for you. The person who gifted you the book perhaps wrote an inscription to you inside the front cover. As the gift receiver, that inscription means as much as the book does—in fact, a quick Internet search brings up a plethora of cherished book inscription images , some decades old. So when you’re the giver, what to write in a book as a gift is one of the most important questions to tackle before getting out the wrapping paper.

What to write in a book as a gift. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/d7v2EXFJcWY

Of course, you’ll want to write something personal—about the recipient or the occasion, or about the book or your favorite passage from it. No one other than you can come up with those words, but if you want to add a little something extra about the joy of books and reading, we’ve rounded up a list of quotes to help you send the perfect message.

What to Write in a Book As a Gift for Someone Who Could Read All Day, Every Day

In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold. ―Ben Aaronovitch

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Reading—the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay. —William Styron

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading. —Logan Pearsall Smith

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. —C.S. Lewis

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Joseph Addison

For Someone Whose World Expands Through Books

The world was hers for the reading. —Betty Smith

A book is a dream you hold in your hands. —Neil Gaiman

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. —S.I. Hayakawa

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. —Mary Schmich

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet. —Jhumpa Lahiri

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. —Jean Rhys

Reading is departure and arrival. —Terri Guillemets

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. —Anna Quindlen

For Someone Who Collects Books Like They’re Going Out of Style

I have always imagined paradise will be a kind of library. —Jorge Luis Borges

I love the smell of book ink in the morning. —Umberto Eco

So many books, so little time. —Frank Zappa

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. —Henry Ward Beecher

For Someone Who Loves A Book That Leaves Them Thinking

The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. —Harper Lee

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. —Haruki Murakami 

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. —Italo Calvino

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. —Oscar Wilde 

For Someone Who Talks About Books As If They’re People

A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love. —Robert Aris Willmott

It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially. —Donna Tartt 

There is no friend as loyal as a book. —Ernest Hemingway

With books, I slip out of my life and am with the choicest company. —Katherine Young

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. —Charles William Eliot

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. —Marcel Proust

For the Friend Who Talks About Books With You for Hours

There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books. —Irving Stone

Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen. —Charles Caleb Colton

My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read. —Abraham Lincoln 

For Someone Who Appreciates a Little Humor

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. —P.J. O’Rourke

There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it. —Bertrand Russell

“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read. —Mark Twain

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx

I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy. —Frank Zappa

Never judge a book by its movie. —J.W. Eagan

For Someone Whose Dreams Are Fueled by Books

Books were my pass to personal freedom. —Oprah Winfrey

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. —Margaret Fuller

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. —Frederick Douglas

You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. —James Baldwin

Couldn’t quite find just the right inscription in this list of quotes? Many of them are pulled directly from literature, so you can always open the book you’re giving and look for the right words within its pages. After all, just as they often do in books, authors have a way of expressing what you’ve always thought in a way you’ve never thought about saying it. On the other hand, their words might be the thing that inspires you to come up with the perfect sentiment yourself. But whoever’s words they are, a meaningful inscription is the most beautiful bow you can put on a book this holiday.

For more inspiration about what to write in a book as a gift, check out these quotes that celebrate the reading life and these quotes that remind us why we love books so much .

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COMMENTS

  1. 3 Ways to Quote a Book

    3. Use a parenthetical citation. You need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (preceded by "p.") The best way to do this is to use a signal phrase with the author's name in it, followed by the date of publication and the page number in parenthesis.

  2. A detailed guide to quoting

    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.

  3. Quotations

    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.

  4. How to Quote

    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.

  5. 170 Writing Quotes by Famous Authors for Every Occasion

    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.".

  6. Quotes, How To Write? A Guide To Craft And Use Them

    Here are some quotes that bring a smile to your face: "Peace begins with a smile.". - Mother Teresa. Nobel Peace Prize holder Mother Teresa elaborated on the importance of peace. She depicted in simple words the power of a smile. She explained how a smile can create a positive and peaceful environment around you.

  7. 72 of the Best Quotes for Writers

    You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.". —William S. Burroughs. "All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.". —Steve Almond, WD. "It ain't whatcha write, it's the way atcha write it.".

  8. Writing Quotes: 101 Quotes for Writers to Inspire You

    You write about a kid's burnt socks lying in the road.". - Richard Price. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.". - Robert Frost. "You always get more respect when you don't have a happy ending.". - Julia Quinn.

  9. Using 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 ...

  10. How to Quote

    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.

  11. How to Include Famous Quotes in Your Book

    Double quote marks around the quote. Capital letter at the start of the quote. Full stop at the end of the quote, inside the quote marks. Quotes usually in another font (or italics) to your body text. Author of the quote written underneath in the font used for the body of your text. An example using one of my favorite quotes:

  12. Quotations

    when an author has said something memorably or succinctly, or. when you want to respond to exact wording (e.g., something someone said). Instructors, programs, editors, and publishers may establish limits on the use of direct quotations. Consult your instructor or editor if you are concerned that you may have too much quoted material in your paper.

  13. Inspirational Writing Quotes from Famous Authors

    Find Stephen King quotes on writing, Ernest Hemingway quotes on writing, and creative writing quotes from other famous authors such as Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, and Henry David Thoreau, amongst other famous writer quotes. So put the pen down for a moment, step away from the keyboard, and soak in these eclectic author quotes on writing.

  14. 88 Inspiring Quotes about Writing a Novel

    4. 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. 5. A man who is not born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel.

  15. 50 Inspiring Quotes About Writing from the World's Greatest Authors

    Here are 50 nuggets of writing wisdom from some of the greatest authors of all time: "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then ...

  16. 50 Inspirational Quotes on Writing

    1. "The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.". - Toni Morrison. 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.".

  17. 50+ Inspiring Quotes About Writing and Writers

    Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." —Somerset Maugham. "Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." —Gloria Steinem. "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." —Anais Nin. "Get through a draft as quickly as possible." —Joshua Wolf Shenk.

  18. How To Write A Book Quotes (29 quotes)

    Quotes tagged as "how-to-write-a-book" Showing 1-29 of 29. "I used to be afraid about what people might say or think after reading what I had written. I am not afraid anymore, because when I write, I am not trying to prove anything to anyone, I am just expressing myself and my opinions. It's ok if my opinions are different from those of the ...

  19. 45+ Quotes About Writing from Famous Writers

    These quotes feature sayings about writers from the ultimate authority: writers themselves. 41. "If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels." — Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm. 42.

  20. Writing Books Quotes (137 quotes)

    It's about being a man pushing 35 and not having a sense of direction. It's about finding love and being totally unwilling to let it go. - About Qualia". 137 quotes have been tagged as writing-books: Louisa May Alcott: 'I want to do something splendid…Something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten ...

  21. What to Write in a Book As a Gift: 40 Bookish Inscription-Ready Quotes

    The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. —Harper Lee. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. —Haruki Murakami. A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. —Italo Calvino.

  22. Quozio

    Create My Quote. Need some inspiration? Try a random quote . Quozio is the fastest way to create quotes to save and share. Making beautiful quotes just became easy! Try it yourself to see why millions choose Quozio as their favorite quote maker. It's free!