June 27, 2016 - Posted toWriting Tips
We all love a great quotation. Whether it is a favourite Shakespeare one, or a pop star waffling, and getting it completely wrong. Some can be profound and moving, others are trite and forgettable. What they all have in common is, that for whatever reason, they have repeatability.
Repeatability is something that we can use to our advantage when we are trying to write an essay and can’t quite get the concept or idea across. A good quotation, rather like a great photograph, can put across exactly what we're trying to say in a humorous or heartfelt way - it can be slipped into your essay to enhance and explain things that you might be too shy to tackle or unable to express.
We are going to look at some of the ways in which you can use quotations to enhance your writing.
“To Be - Or Not To Be …”
That has to be one of the most famous quotes in the history of the written word. It is taken from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, and is part of a longer speech, or soliloquy, in which Prince Hamlet is thinking about taking his own life. You will have seen this quote many times and may even have used it yourself. It can be applied to so many situations - a humorous one; two bees on a flower for instance, or whether to go off to the cinema - it is ubiquitous; but it teaches us some valuable lessons about quotations and their effective use in writing.
A good quote can have multiple uses and meanings. It can be used to illustrate many points and add some weight to an argument or give some direction to a piece. It can be used, (as we have used it here) as an introduction or a title, and often sets the scene for the rest of the work. Many authors use the device for sub-headings of book chapters. Some magazines and papers even have whole pages devoted to “This week’s quotes”.
“He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”
So how would you find such a quote as a college freshman? The most obvious answer would be the internet. Here there are sites such as Goodreads where quotations are categorised by subject, person or possible usage. The library, too, is a great source of material. There are books such as “The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations” and “Bartlett's Familiar Quotations” as well as many other, more specific tomes, poetry quotations, sports quotations, political quotations and so on.
A read through some of these can often inspire your writing and get you thinking in a new direction. Many writers use quotations to give them some direction when they have “writers block” or are finding it difficult to get a tread or a theme going in their essay or paper.
In order to make the best of the quotations available, use writing structures that allow you to almost, mention in passing, the quote in question. Unless it is a heading, it must have some true relevance to the theme and subject of your piece. If you are writing about modern architecture, it is difficult to put a quotation in about the demise of dolphins in the South Pacific, for example.
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
In academic writing, when using quotations, you should cite the original source of the quote; the person who made the comment, and the book, magazine or source that published or used it. This can be directly with the quote or can be as a footnote or as part of the bibliography or citations section, depending on which type of paper you are writing.
If you are well read, you will already have an idea of the kinds of authors and quotations that are out there, and how they might be able to be used in your own writing. If not, it is well worth checking out a few of the quotation books at your local library. The librarians will always help you to find a good choice and can even advise as to the most suitable type of style or tone for your task. Simply having a read through some of these quotes will increase college writing ideas and cement your thoughts on what might make a good framework around which to base your own paper.
A good practice exercise is to take a quotation and then to write a 500-word essay using the quote as your title. Weave your story around it and make it relevant to the quote
This technique can be applied to any writing - even if you do not actually use the quote, but, instead, use it as a launch pad for your essay or paper - as a kind of inspiration.