1. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Writing Online Chatting and other similar things

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by cybrxkhan, Apr 12, 2011.

    This was something that hadn't come up to me recently, but I've realized that online chats might play an important role in one of my writing projects (and it sort of makes an appearance as a modified fantasy-ish steampunk variant in another story). However, I've never encountered it in any of the books I've read (though I know it exists) - but how is one supposed to write out an online chat? Like is there a standard format that most authors use, or is online chatting still so new that there isn't really much of a standard yet?

    I would imagine that you would just indent and bold the usernames of the characters or what not, sort of like a play, but I'm not sure.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    iF I ever found excerpts from a chat in a book I was reading I think I would put it down right away and give it to the closest flee market. To me that would be a sign of poor quality. In which books have you found it?
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Have seen this first hand in several YA books, and heard it's pretty common these days.

    There didn't seem to be a common format, but imo clarity is key, so clue the reader into the fact a text or online message is incoming, and then give the actual information in block quotes, is what I would do. For an IM chat, would consider doing the username: text being entered sort of format.

    Moderation is key, I would say, and avoid drowning your manuscript in a see of italics.
     
  4. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    I read it in one book, I can't recall which, but it was some YA fantasy I'm glad to have forgotten. I seem to recall an IM conversation, formatted as such,
    indentindentindentx0x0suchandsuch666 says: hey girl, how you doing?
    indentindentindentke$hafan101 says: doing good, how r you?

    And so on and so forth. Minimal chat speak, save the particularly easy to understand ones (lol, 'r', smiley faces). Texts, as I recall, were written in the text as usual dialogue, except "they were written in courier :)". There doesn't seem to be any standard, though, at least not yet.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's dealt with in several threads on the site...

    basically, you simply type the material as a 'block indent'... bold should not be used anywhere in a ms...
     
  6. Mr. Blue Dot
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    Mr. Blue Dot Member

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    I believe Cory Doctorow has a few stories that use IM, and chatroom dialog between characters.
     
  7. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I think when I had the character using online-speech, I suddenly went script-format. However, I think the leap was about a dozen lines. The following lines were designed with my own reading-habits in mind, where I would skip anything that resembled embedded song-lyrics. I spent a line transitioning back into the normal story that summed up the result of the online conversation.
     
  8. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Alright, thank you very much for the tips and suggestions.

    I'm not writing YA (I hope!), and I don't think I will even have this kind of stuff in that much, but I realized that a few situations in my story will have no choice where this kind of thing will be necessary, so thank you all again.
     
  9. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    I believe there are books out there now that has an online chatting format. I can't quite recall what those books are called but I know that they are Youth books.

    If you're going down this route, in order to make it seem like an online chat, just create it the way a chat room would look like. (bold usernames, colons, online talk, etc.)
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As Maia said, use block indent. Don't use bold or italics or funny fonts.

    Know the difference between manuscript format and what actually ends up in print. They are not the same!
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!
     

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