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We’re back!  Switzerland worked its usual magic and I have returned with several pages of my notebook filled with ideas for “Plank 6” and even “Plank 7” (writing that makes me a bit sad, as it reminds me that there are only two Planks to go…).

As it was a holiday I was catching up on my reading as well as my plotting – although, as I am now officially writing “Plank 6” I did keep away from anything set within a century of Sam, to avoid confusing myself.  And as I read four books in the fortnight, I spotted something.  Quotation marks.  At school I was taught – along with how to sharpen my quill pen and hide my ankles from prying eyes – that speech should be indicated by double quotation marks, as in this example:

  • “I’m not sure that the last word in this argument should be Conant’s,” I said to Martha.

I stick religiously to this standard in the Sam books.  But in every book I read on holiday – and in all the others I pulled feverishly from the shelves to check my discovery – speech was indicated by single quotation marks.  Now it can’t be that terrible if I’ve only just noticed it, but I do think it could cause confusion, with the same single mark being used for contractions and possessives.  In the example I gave above, if we change the doubles for singles, we get this:

  • ‘I’m not sure that the last word in this argument should be Conant’s,’ I said to Martha.

You see what happens to the initial I and the s after Conant?  The native English-speaking brain can probably make sense of it, but it could cause you to pause in your reading just to make sure – so why not use the perfectly-designed double marks to avoid any interruption to the reading experience?  What do you think?  Do you write with doubles?  Do you prefer to read with doubles or singles?  Or are you outside enjoying the sunshine and couldn’t care less?