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To quote, or not to quote

In IDS on October 30, 2010 at 11:47 am

A journalism teacher once told me that if someone in power says something stupid, quote them. I guess that’s good advice. But sometimes quotes are unnecessary, even distracting. We are all guilty of padding stories with boring, jargon-filled quotes. I think John Seasly did a great job using quotes in his story about a local haunted house.

JOHN SEASLY (IDS)

With October come haunted houses, and with haunted houses come stained underwear.

“We don’t think it’s a good haunted house ’til someone pees their pants,” said John Baker, owner of Baker’s Junction Haunted Train.

Later, the quotes get even better.

Saturday night, scare-seekers Jeremy Byerly and Suzanne Probst wandered through the train cars, jumping at a sudden bang, knowing something was probably sneaking up on them. Turning a corner, they encountered parts of a skeleton floating in a bucket of blood.

“It looks like a big stew of bones,” Probst said. “A pot of people,” Byerly replied.

A bit of real, live gore is preserved in a display case at the train’s entrance. In a clear plastic container floats the mummified tip of Baker’s right index finger, which was severed when he slipped using a skill saw last year.

“They said they couldn’t sew it back on so I just put it in my pocket and took it home,” Baker said.

What do you think? When should we use quotes? When should we avoid them? Did John’s story work for you?

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