The structure looks like this:

Chapter 10


And so Cath began telling me her tale. Which turned out to be grimmer than I'd expected.

Chapter 11

"I've been suffering from migraines ever since high school. I'm not talking about those sissy tickling behind the eyes, but really strong hammerings—so strong, in fact, they sometimes make me want to split my head open and scoop out my brain...


"And that's when it came. It began as a tingle in my temples that grew stronger and stronger, until it became a tightening pain. Like the walls of my skull were closing in, squeezing my brain...

Chapter 11 consists mostly on Cath telling her story. The protagonist interrupts only occasionally:

I stared at Cath, astounded. "What happened then?"


I mulled this over. I'd never thought about nature that way. Imperfection. Was that the reason things like cancer, allergies, and other human afflictions existed? How about death?

Not sure whether I should remove the quotation marks or the parts where the protagonist interrupts.

What do author usually do in these cases? Which is more pleasant to the reader?

  • 1
    I'm reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss at the moment. It's split between a third person telling of the protagonist talking to a chronicler of events, and a first person telling of his story, as written verbatim by the chronicler. To keep it clean, and avoid speech marks, the two "sections" are split into separate chapters.
    – CLockeWork
    Feb 25, 2015 at 11:05
  • 1
    You did correct by surrounding these in chapter breaks. A chapter break or a section break is where you can harmlessly shift perspective and for example descend into a speech narrated by the character as first-person narration without these quotes. Otherwise, you're bound to the original perspective and so quotation marks are mandatory.
    – SF.
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:13

2 Answers 2


It doesn't matter if your book is 95% one person speaking. If your character is speaking aloud, and especially if you have a second person who interrupts even once a chapter, you must have punctuation indicating that someone is speaking.

Also, I very strongly recommend that you don't just present your story as a wall of 95% one person speaking aloud. If you want Cath to tell her story, make it from Cath's POV, and have her telling the reader instead. Then you can skip the punctuation, because she's writing to the audience, not speaking aloud.

If Cath is not your POV narrator, then break up her speech with stage business, action tags, and more interruptions from the other person.


You should keep the quotation marks. If you believe that they will be distracting or disorientating to the reader, then don't take my word for it, try it yourself with an example:

Look at the famous 'Heart of Darkness' by Conrad (the copyright has expired, so it is in the public domain and free to read). It consists almost exclusively of somebody on a boat telling a story, and after reading only a few pages the reader gets used to the quotation marks.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.