The Multi-Paragraph Quotation Rule

I recently created a post that had some quotes that spanned more than one paragraph – reflecting on one’s life choices. I caught some flack for this from the family grammar nazi because I’d not followed the Multi-Paragraph Quotation Rule (MPQR). Since I didn’t follow the rule, the nazi had difficulty figuring out who was being quoted.

On hearing this, Pam agreed that she also had some difficulty figuring out the speaker.

According to a lot of sites, if you’re quoting paragraphs then you need to put quotation marks at the start and end of the final paragraph. All quoted paragraphs before the final one would have quotation marks at the beginning of the paragraphs but not at the end.

Here’s an example:
“This is the first paragraph of a long, boring quote. It has quotation marks at its beginning but not its end.
“This is the second paragraph of a long, boring quote. It has quotation marks at its beginning but not its end.
“This is the final paragraph of a long, boring quote. It has quotation marks at its beginning and at its end.”

This is what my story would have looked like if I’d’ve used this rule:

start of new version

We were talking about some storms that were supposed to come by. Ishmael talked about how some storms can cause updrafts that can send a skydiver where he doesn’t want to be.

“One guy was skydiving near the lake. An updraft caught him and was sending him very high and very far into the lake. He cut off his parachute to get to a manageable height and then deployed his reserve parachute.

“Unfortunately, the same updraft send him out over the lake again. He eventually landed a mile or two offshore.

“A couple of fisherman saw him land, debated whether he needed help, and rescued him before he drowned.

“There are also downdrafts. This is where the wind slams you into the ground. These can happen near a cliff or the edge of a forest. One time we were landing near a herd of cows. The cows were pissed at the commotion caused by the skydivers and were stampeding in a circle. To avoid the stampede, I went over to the edge of the forest. The downdraft slammed me into the ground. I wasn’t damaged but very sore.

“I then saw a friend of mine heading the same way. I tried to warn her but the alternative was the stampede. She got slammed into the ground and broke her ankle.”

I didn’t say “You’re an idiot to take such risks for a hobby.” Instead I said “These kinds of things would make some folks reflect on their life choices.”

Ishmael said “No. When you see someone get hurt you think about what they did wrong and how to avoid getting hurt.

“Seeing someone die makes you reflect on your life choices. That’s why these days I stay on board and fly the plane instead.”

end of new version

I’m not that happy with it. For one thing, I’d never heard of MPQR and I’m sure that I’m not alone in that. Folks will read that and ask a) “What’s with the intermittent quotation marks?” and b) “Who’s saying what?”

Heck, I’m losing track of who’s saying what.

I figured that I’d try again:

start of alternate version

We were talking about some storms that were supposed to come by. Ishmael talked about how some storms can cause updrafts that can send a skydiver where he doesn’t want to be.

Ishmael:

“One guy was skydiving near the lake. An updraft caught him and was sending him very high and very far into the lake. He cut off his parachute to get to a manageable height and then deployed his reserve parachute.

“Unfortunately, the same updraft send him out over the lake again. He eventually landed a mile or two offshore.

“A couple of fisherman saw him land, debated whether he needed help, and rescued him before he drowned.

“There are also downdrafts. This is where the wind slams you into the ground. These can happen near a cliff or the edge of a forest. One time we were landing near a herd of cows. The cows were pissed at the commotion caused by the skydivers and were stampeding in a circle. To avoid the stampede, I went over to the edge of the forest. The downdraft slammed me into the ground. I wasn’t damaged but very sore.

“I then saw a friend of mine heading the same way. I tried to warn her but the alternative was the stampede. She got slammed into the ground and broke her ankle.”

I didn’t say “You’re an idiot to take such risks for a hobby.” Instead I said “These kinds of things would make some folks reflect on their life choices.”

Ishmael replied:

“No. When you see someone get hurt you think about what they did wrong and how to avoid getting hurt.

“Seeing someone die makes you reflect on your life choices. That’s why these days I stay on board and fly the plane instead.”

end of alternate version

Opinions are welcome, if not listened to.

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