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Do you use quotations from other writers to introduce chapters?
Kat Day
Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2012 10:33 AM
Joined: 12/29/2011
Posts: 10

A lot of famous writers begin a book or chapter with quotations (crediting the authors, of course) and use song lyrics in the story. I like to begin at least some chapters with mood-setting lyrics or poetry.

Is this too complicated (if you have to get permission from the author) or trite? I read once that anything that increases the word count is discouraged by publishers. What about characters singing a line or two from a song?

How do you use quotes or lyrics in your writing?

Alexander Hollins
Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 11:30 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

I do have a story with opening quotes, but, like robert aspirin in the Myth series, I make them up.

I do have a couple stories built around a few lines of song lyric. They are on the backburner though, so I haven't dealt with that yet.  However, based on the four factor balance of fair use, 2 lines of a song, in a book, would be a transformative use of the work, of a different character than the original, a not large proportion of the work being used, and not effect the original value of the copyright in question, so it SHOULD fall under fair use, in my mind.  With quotations, as long as you didn't use one book to quote through the whole thing, it should still fall under fair use, imo. (please note, I am not a lawyer, I just do more actual studying of the law than most. )

Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2012 4:25 PM
You have to get permission from the songwriter / publisher to use song lyrics. That can be, as far as I understand, a bit of a messy process. Having said that, I have a page of quotes which fit the tone of the story in my novel that's coming out winter 2013. The quotes are from John Muir, Rosa Parks, George Eliot, and the Bible.


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