blog post #5: writing craft


a painting within a painting...kind of like a story within a story

Today we will be talking about the author’s style.  As I mentioned awhile ago, Margaret Atwood takes many creative liberties with her writing, one being a lack of quotation marks during The Blind Assassin parts.  It’s not so much that I hate it, I just don’t see the point.  Well, me being me, I looked it up.  I’m just going to paste what I found because why bother acting like I thought it up myself–whoever wrote this deserves the credit.

“Why? Well, the use of quotation marks is, arguably, part of the world of make-believe that an author weaves. It’s as if we’re borrowing from journalism, subtly claiming that we’re telling the reader exactly what happened and precisely what was said.

But of course, we’re not really recording what was said. The characters are made up, and we, the author, put those words in their mouths. A novel is fiction, it’s make-believe.

So, when an author chooses to eliminate quotation marks, it may function as a rejection of that convention of pretending it’s real, or making it feel real to the reader. By using a more poetic, less technically correct punctuation style, the author can signal the reader that this particular narrative they are sharing has more in common with an abstract poem or a dream than with a journalistic recording of facts.” (this was from August  9, 2016 by Kris Herndon on”

So I’m assuming in the book I’m reading, the reason Atwood does this is to emphasis the “story within a story”.  When we are from Iris’s point of view, past or present, there are normal quotation marks.  The entire thing is a mixture of first person narrative and third person limited omniscient, which you don’t often see switched around in one novel.

I personally would not incorporate this style into my own writing, but I love a good “story within a story”.  It probably isn’t easy to master, but it’s super cool.  On an entirely different note, Margaret Atwood is SUCH a good descriptor.  Her writing sounds poetic.  I could never.