1. Christina58

    Christina58 Member

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    How to handle text messages in a novel?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Christina58, Mar 22, 2018.

    I have some text messaging in my novel, I was not sure handle them. Do I use italics with dialogue would that be ok? How do you use smilies in a novel? I may just stay away from the all together.

    Thoughts and input would be greatly appreciated...
     
  2. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I use straight dialog like.. Jenny texted, "Pls come pick me up."
    If my character was reading a text... Jimmy quick to read the texted, "Pls come pick me up."
     
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  3. orangefire

    orangefire Active Member

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    I just do it like regular dialogue, except specifying texting instead of talking, like @Thundair said, though I don't usually italicize the part the character is reading either. The exception is sometimes in longer messages where I'll have it in its own paragraph and italicized.

    As for emoticons, that's a good question. So far I just haven't used any, though I haven't had a reason to use any either.
     
  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I don't use quotation marks -- those're only for speech, for me -- but I will italicize texts, otherwise treating them like speech punctuation-wise. That can get tedious to read if it goes on for a long while, though. I also tried some shenanigans where I used brackets, like:

    [this is the body of a text message
    izzy couldn't be bothered to think of sample dialogue]

    I wanted to be able to replicate multitexting because I think it's a notable feature of text communication, but I'm not sure if it was a great solution. Setting it off in brackets also made me feel better about observing the common grammatical tics of texting (no periods, lax caps), whereas if I treated it more like straight dialogue that'd seem weird.

    I think it's a matter of how texting is used in your story. When I tried brackets it was for a contemporary story about a Millennial friend group to whom the intricacies of text communication would be apparent and important, and I wanted to be able to convey metatextual meaning through 'speech' patterns and habits. In another story, where I just used italicization, texting was fully pragmatic between co-workers, often kept brief, only occasionally used.

    I wouldn't try to include emojis in text, outside of maybe your basic colon-and-end-parenthesis. I'd just have something like "He sent a row of assorted heart emojis" in the narrative.
     
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  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    You can always change the font and set the texts separately. If the novel is for teens/YA that’s what I’d do, as it is fairly common. For adults I’d go with the advice about keeping it as part of dialogue.
     
  6. Christina58

    Christina58 Member

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    Thank you for all your suggestions, it is greatly appreciated.
     
  7. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    How heavily is text messaging used? If characters have long conversations over text messages often, you could use special formatting, something like,

    ALEX 4:59

    "Hey u gong to the dock's tonght????"

    KEV 5:03

    "ye lmoa need more drugss"

    ALEX 5:04

    "drugs are cool lo l"
     
  8. Christina58

    Christina58 Member

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    Excellent idea referencing the time :)
     
  9. courtykat

    courtykat New Member

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    I just made my own thread on this; wish I'd seen this one first haha.
    I personally don't care for using quotation marks for texts, since quotes are traditionally known to show spoken dialogue, and I wanted something to set texts further apart. So I settled on French quotation marks, instead -- guillemets. You can use them in much the same fashion as normal quotes, but they have a different and easily recognizable appearance. Such as this:

    I rolled my eyes and grabbed my phone, hoping to tune out his incessant droning. « Save me, please » I sent to my bestie. « He just started talking about his stamp collection. Literally »

    After a moment's waiting, my phone buzzed with a reply back. « you're exaggerating right? :eek: »

    « I swear I'm not. I didn't think guys this boring still existed »

    « *headdesk* omg. i'll come get you. tell him it's urgent; my aunt's husband's sister's pet rat just died and she needs everybody to go comfort her immediately. »

    I couldn't help but snort, catching the attention of my date. "Something funny?" he asked, the annoyance clear in his voice.

    "Oh, no," I murmured, smiling innocently. "But I'm afraid I have to leave. Something urgent just came up. Family matter; I hope you understand." I grabbed my bag and began to stand. « I'll meet you at the shop next door » I typed, walking swiftly out of the building after dropping some cash on the table.

    « girls night out? » came the quick reply.

    « You know it »
    I like it because it flows well and makes formatting the texts very easy, since obviously everybody has their own unique texting styles. I know it's quite different from the norm, but I think it serves its purpose well. :D
     
  10. Ksenia Tomasheva

    Ksenia Tomasheva Member

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    Hehe, good question, for me it would also be useful. I'm used to use the following:
    - What a great idea, - he said. = speech
    "What a great idea," he thought. = thoughts
    "What a great idea," he wrote. = written messages.

    But the first way of writing dialogues isn't normal to English, isn't it? Thus, I was planning on using italics in quotes for thoughts and having written messages in a separate line, with quotes and shifted to the right, just like this:
    "What a great idea."
    But, really, what if I need a piece of written message inside a paragraph? It would look similar to thoughts, wouldn't it?
     
  11. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    You don't use dialogue tags, nor quotes, or use italics.
    Use a different font, one that's simple and used typically in emails... Courier, Arial, etc.
    If it's a text messaging exchange, particularly one that happens in real time; one character's text should be written in the normal way (caps & lower case), the other character, especially if that character is authoritative or in a position of power, or otherwise mysterious, should be written in all caps. Describing the formatting of such an exchange is a bit harder. The conversation via text messaging are written in offsetting columns, side-by-side as it were... if that makes any sense?
    That's how it's done in The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman.
     

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