The Truth that resides in the beating heart of a novel is sacred to its author. Its pursuit called the writer to the page and inspired the perseverance to publish against daunting odds. Once your story feels deeply true, you long to share it—and your target audience will long to read it.
Even though your main reason for writing fiction is illustrative more than prescriptive, you can offer a meaningful by-product through quotes that have the potential to spread your novel’s influence. Yes, your novel’s wisdom can serve as an effective marketing tool.
This notion may come across as crass—or at times, even pointless. In a society increasingly influenced by marketing swagger, it can seem it no longer matters what we know to be true, as long as we can convince people to buy what we’re selling. Writing so that our story’s wisdom can be readily fashioned into a marketing meme may be the antithesis of why we write. And yet if your storytelling has struck on a universal truth, and you can deliver it in a fresh way, your readers will share it even without your blessing—through Kindle highlighting, underlining in shared paper copies, and broadcasting through memes on social media—and in so doing, plant seeds of truth in an increasing number of readers. Pulling quotes is so ubiquitous that Goodreads has a section for this on each novel’s page, where readers list their favorites.
Mainstream media loves quotes too. In August of this year, in honor of the film’s 20th anniversary, Parade.com published 20 Classic Forrest Gump Quotes. Tell me: when Forrest first spoke of life’s box chocolates, did you roll your eyes and say “how blatantly commercial”—or were you charmed?
And or course authors are readers too. Hungry for nuggets of wisdom that will inspire their own imaginations, other authors may laud your insight by featuring one of your quotes as an epigraph in their own work. In the novel I just finished reading, The Favorite Daughter, author Patti Callahan Henry featured quotes about memory at the top of each chapter as her characters grappled with the implications of their father’s increasingly troubling dementia. The epigraph for Chapter 23 was from Pat Conroy’s Beach Music: “Except for memory, time would have no meaning at all.”
Readers love such quotes, that they can print out and hang on their wall. Just look at the number of “highlighters” that litter the pages of your Kindle. Here’s one from Roland Merullo’s novel, Breakfast with Buddha: “When you are a crank, you put yourself on the top of the list of people you make miserable.” Great quote, right? Turns out 1200 others (and counting) agree with you.
Let’s play a game. Do you know which authors generated these quotes? [Read more…]