Readers look for quotes to see the “who” of the story and to hear an authentic voice. Even when a reporter has taken particular angle on an article, the quotation is where a source gets his or her “day in court.” Quotes enliven, humanize and inject real expertise.
Interviews for print attribution should use the exact wording
Getting the quotes right takes work, some equipment, and a fantastic transcription trick I divulge at the end.
Getting usable exact wording can be a challenge when a source uses a string of sentence fragments or other non-standard constructions to answer questions. This can lead to messy, even ignorant-sounding quotes. This isn’t good for you or the source. “The only thing worse than being misquoted, is being quoted verbatim,” says Gregory Benford, science fiction author.
It is extremely tempting to “fix” interview quotes, although it’s perfectly acceptable to truncate sentences, string out contractions, and even tidy up uncharacteristic bad grammar (unless you want your source to look like an ignoramus or preserve your characters’ regional dialect for “color”).
Click on page 2 to continue reading and see the transcription trick