When you’re writing about texts – you might be discussing a character or exploring ideas or issues in a novel – it’s important to use short quotations that help to support your discussion. Quotes should always be surrounded by quotation marks. You can use either single or double quotation marks but don’t use both.
There are two ways you can use quotations when you’re writing about a novel.
The preferred way is to use a short quotation in a sentence of your own.
e.g. Calma admits that Kiffo could be a “real bastard”.
If you need to use a who sentence, you can use a colon to introduce it.
e.g. Kiffo is someone who revels in tormenting his teachers: “It was nothing less than his solemn duty to give them a hard time.”
Do not put a quotation into your writing without any discussion or explanation. Make sure your quotations are short and relevant to what you are writing about.
1. Here are five different paragraphs about the character Kiffo from The Whole Business with Kiffo and The Pitbull. Read through them carefully and put them in order from best to worst.
a. In the book, Kiffo is a bit of a troublemaker who is poorly behaved at school. In the novel it is quoted “Jarryd Kiffing, fifteen, uglier than a bucketful of butt-holes.” He treats his teachers badly and drives Miss Leanyer to the point of a nervous breakdown. Although he is poorly behaved, Kiffo is actually a deeply troubled teenager. Calma reveals that Kiffo doesn’t come from a very good family. “You fail to appreciate the effect of a dysfunctional family unit operating within his socio-economic background upon an intellect that has never been given the opportunity to flourish.” His father is abusive and he’s never been given many opportunities. Although this is no excuse for the way that he treats people, it helps to explain why he is so rebellious.
b. In The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull by Barry Jonsberg, Jarryd ‘Kiffo’ Kiffing is characterised as a lout and a troublemaker. Described through the narration of Calma Harrison, Kiffo is someone who revels in tormenting his teachers: “It was nothing less than his solemn duty to give them a hard time.” Although he is poorly behaved at school, Jonsberg offers a number of reasons for this behaviour. Early in the novel, Jonsberg reveals that Kiffo’s father routinely beats “the hell out of him”. Calma acknowledges that, although Kiffo was a “real bastard” who could be “violent at times”, she still regards him as a good friend.
c. Kiffo is a guy who is badly behaved and always mucks around in class. His friend Calma thinks that he’s okay even though she admits that he can be a “real bastard” but she knows stuff about him that other people don’t know like that his brother died and his dad hits him. When that teacher gives them a spelling test it’s a bit unfair and he doesn’t do very well at all but the teachers were always mean to him.
d. In the book, Kiffo is a hoon and a troublemaker who is poorly behaved at school. He treats his teachers badly and drives Miss Leanyer to the point of a nervous breakdown. Although he is poorly behaved, Kiffo is actually a deeply troubled teenager. Calma reveals that Kiffo doesn’t come from a very good family. His father is abusive and he’s never been given many opportunities. Early in the novel, Kiffo admits that his father often beats “the hell out of him”. Although this is no excuse for the way that he treats people, it helps to explain why he is so rebellious.
e. In the book, Kiffo throws a football at the back of Miss Leanyer’s head. This makes her really mad and she attacks him and they never hear from her again. When she leaves, a new teacher turns up. This woman is really fierce and immediately gives Kiffo a detention for doing badly on a test so Kiffo decides to mess up her house or something.
Thinking about the paragraphs above, identify five things you should do when writing about a novel.