Sunday, September 28, 2003

Tsk tsk.

Entertainment Weekly has an interesting interview with Chuck Palahniuk, the author of "Fight Club." Great details, strong quotes. They pulled one on the second page:
"When I first used to tour," Palahniuk says, "guys would come up and say, 'Were's the fight club in my area?' and I'd say, 'There isn't one. I made it up.'"
That's an OK pull quote. Until you get to the quote in the article.
Chuck Palahniuk, 41, hasn't been in a fight since 1995. "When I first used to tour," he says, "guys would come up and say, 'Where's the fight club in my area?' and I would say, 'There isn't one.' And they'd say, 'No, no, you can tell me, you can tell me.' Or they would come and they would say, 'Is there one of these for women?' And I'd be like, 'There isn't one of these for men. I made it up.' And it breaks their hearts, it breaks people's hearts."
That's no longer an OK pull quote. It's a terrible pull quote because it has been doctored. That's not what Palahniuk said.

What's sad is that it's easily fixed, but someone chose not to. (My guess: It was probably right in the first place, but someone looked for ways to tighten it to have room to stylize the text.) If you take words out, you have to add ellipses. Period. Quotes are like a contract with readers. Readers have to know that what's within those quote marks is what the speaker said. So there should be an ellipses between 'There isn't one." and "I made it up."

But that's not the only problem. They also changed "I would" to "I'd." You can't do that. He said one and not the other, and the writer let us know which. No editor can make Palahniuk use contractions to fit space. If it doesn't fit, use a different quote.


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