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Joseph Lewis Explores the Artful Impact of Using Quotes in a Book.

In the intricate dance of storytelling, where each word and punctuation mark plays its pivotal role, the use of quotations stands out as a particularly intriguing step. Joseph Lewis, in his forthcoming essay, explores this nuanced art with a keen eye, inviting us into a discussion that often flies under the radar yet holds the potential to anchor narratives and guide readers through the depths of literary exploration. Through his perspective, we are offered a lens to view quotations not merely as decorative elements but as strategic tools that can amplify the thematic resonance of a work.

Lewis's approach to quotations transcends the conventional; it is a deliberate method of setting the stage for his readers, offering them a glimpse into the minds of his characters, and laying the groundwork for the emotional and intellectual journeys ahead. His essay below serves as a testament to the power of well-chosen words to frame stories, shape reader expectations, and deepen the connection between the narrative and its audience. As authors, embracing this technique can transform our storytelling, enriching our narratives with layers of meaning that extend beyond the confines of our own imaginations.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a storyteller, Lewis shares personal anecdotes and reflections on how quotations have become integral to his writing process. From "Spiral Into Darkness" to "Betrayed," and his latest, "Fan Mail," he illustrates how these carefully selected snippets have not only helped focus his creative vision but also enhanced the reader's engagement with the material. His essay is an invitation to fellow authors to consider the strategic use of quotations as a means to elevate their work, ensuring that every element within their pages serves the greater purpose of storytelling.

Exploring Joseph Lewis's insights on the importance and use of quotations in literature highlights the skill required to craft engaging stories. His essay illuminates a particular facet of writing while honoring the deliberate care authors put into their work, enriching it for a deeper, more engaging reader experience. Discover the art and influence of quotations from the perspective of a master storyteller with us.


Use of Quotes in a Book

Now and then, when you open a book and begin to read, do you ever notice some books have a quote or two before the first chapter begins? Authors might use a quote to inform or focus the reader on what his/her intentions were when writing the book. Perhaps they want to point the reader in a certain direction, to focus on a character’s thought process, or what the character might go through. Many reasons, really.

When I wrote Spiral Into Darkness, I used three quotes at the beginning of the book before the first chapter to give the reader a focus, and an idea of what to expect from the book or from the setting or from a particular character. The three quotes I used are:

“We carry these things inside us

That no one else can see

They hold us down like anchors

They drown us out at sea.”


“No man chooses evil because it is evil; they only mistake it for happiness, the good he seeks.”

Mary Shelley

“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”

C.G. Jung

I used these quotes primarily to give the reader a window to the antagonist’s thinking. On the surface, the antagonist moves through the world just as you or I would. The antagonist is successful and smart, if not brilliant. Just below the surface, there is an anger that builds up and bubbles over, spilling out and soiling those he comes in contact with. Such is the nature, or at least, one nature of a serial killer.

My serial killer is methodical and organized. The killer plans and organizes the kill. The killer in my book has a reason for the murders, but that reason is unknown to the protagonists (yes, multiple protagonists). That drives law enforcement crazy- no pun intended. Law enforcement is trained to look for patterns and seek to find the ‘why’ behind a killing. When there is no identifiable pattern to the killing, other than the method, law enforcement is left scratching their heads, hoping there isn’t another murder before they find the killer. And yet, it is only with another murder that might lead them closer to finding the killer.

While law enforcement in my books have had their share of handling tough to solve cases, including murders, the kids in my fictional family have no experience with psychosis or a sociopath. They are drawn unwillingly into the serial killer’s orbit without a clue one or more might be an intended victim.

I also used these three quotes to help create the setting of the book. It’s winter in Wisconsin. Cold, windy, snowy and icy. It can be mild one day and brutal the next. Much like my antagonist, the serial killer.

Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis
Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis

In my book, Betrayed, I used three quotes as well. They are:

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”

Bob Marley

“Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”

Svetlana M.

“In the solemnity of endings, we find hope in new beginnings.”

Anne Scottlin

In my last post, I wrote about book titles and the thought process that goes into them. I wrote my books can have, and most do have, multiple meanings in their titles. Betrayed is one of those titles that has multiple meanings.

The first two quotes give you a clue what one or more of my protagonists are going to go through. Two of the three brothers thought they were going on a fun hunting trip in Navajo country in Northeast Arizona. Little do they know they become the hunted. They don’t know why until the end of the book. Two of the three have never been to Navajoland. George, one of their adopted brothers, grew up in that country, but he is off ‘hunting’ for his missing childhood friend. He doesn’t realize his two brothers are in jeopardy.

The last quote gives a clue to the outcome, the ending of the book. The reader will, eventually, understand this quote pertains to one protagonist specifically. By combining these three quotes, I give the reader a window to what they will encounter between and among the pages.

Betrayed by Joseph Lewis
Betrayed by Joseph Lewis

In my newest book, Fan Mail, I use three quotes differently from my other books. They are:

“When I get hate mail, I get really down on myself, and I read it to my mom, and my mom is like, ‘So what? Who cares? These people don’t know you, so you can’t take praise or hate to heart.’”

Nikki Reed

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”


“Heroes aren’t born, but they are created in times of strife and struggle. Everyone is capable of being a hero in their own way; often without even knowing it, they are a hero to those around them.”


The first quote from Nikki Reed is related to the book’s title. It tells the reader up front what the major action of the book is going to be. I don’t pull any punches … maybe. Even the title, Fan Mail, tells the reader what the book is about. Nothing ambiguous about it. I smile knowingly.

The second quote by Socrates gives the reader the opportunity to look inside the antagonist’s head. What the antagonist is thinking, and how that thinking drives the antagonist’s actions.

The third quote applies to one of the main protagonists, but can, perhaps, apply to more than one. I like this quote because it describes one of the character’s journey. Being who he is, he is quick to deflect the hero word to others, but I don’t think the reader will allow that.

Fan Mail by Joseph Lewis
Fan Mail by Joseph Lewis

I like using quotes because not only does it help the reader on their journey from cover to cover, it also helps me, the writer, to keep focused on the what I’m writing. As I said in an earlier post, writers/authors (I use the two terms interchangeably) choose their words and create their sentences and paragraphs with great care (or at least, they should). We are specific in our word choice, in the actions taken by our characters, including what they think and what they feel. Using quotes helps the writer in this specificity. It keeps our feet firmly planted on the path we chose to write.

I would like to know what you think, so please feel free to use the section below for comments. As always, I thank you for following me on this writing journey.


Joseph Lewis's books

Fan Mail: New Release! A Maxy Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Award Nominee, and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.

As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.

Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?

Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

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