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Guillemets for texting dialogue?

  1. Good idea :D

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  2. Bad idea :(

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  3. I've seen better

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  1. courtykat

    courtykat New Member

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    Punctuation Text Message Dialogue!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by courtykat, Mar 25, 2018.

    Currently writing my first story to feature a text message conversation in it, and it got me thinking about how on earth one is supposed to punctuate these things. Did a bit of research on it, and while there's no official method for it, it seems the only thing writers agree on is to use italics and script-like tags.

    Quotation marks seem to be 50/50, and that's about where I fall on the topic. 50 percent "texts need something to make them stick out more, because I write my characters' thoughts in plain italics already," and 50 percent "but I also write normal dialogue in quotations, so that doesn't help anything."

    I decided to use a different type of mark to set apart the texts as quotes -- not firmly decided, but I quite like the look of the French guillemets! A passage in what I'm working on now, for example:


    A brief moment passed, and then a reply from one of my oldest girlfriends. « Lol kidnapping? Why do u need that »

    « My parents want to move. » I hesitated, then added another message to follow it. « Actually, scratch that. They ARE moving. »

    Another pause, and then all of the messages began flying at me at once.

    « You’re moving??? »

    « what? when? »

    « nooo dont leave us! »

    « Wut r u gonna do »

    I grimaced at my phone.

    Opinions on the punctuation? I think it fits the formatting (flows much like regular quotation marks) and makes it easier to highlight different texting styles between characters.
    And if anybody else has their own ideas on how to set apart text messages, I'd love to see them lol
     
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  2. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    There was a recent thread over here where some people talked about the same thing :)
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry, but your new form of punctuation doesn't work for me. I wouldn't know what to think if I saw this in a book. Actually, I would think it was self published because I doubt this is how an editor would punctuate text messages. You want it to be clear what's going on. Making up new grammar isn't going to help with that.
     
  4. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Is there any form of text with a bubble around it? It might not exist (or more likely, exist but be stupid) but that'll immediately tip the reader off.
     
  5. courtykat

    courtykat New Member

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    Not making up new grammar isn’t really a choice. Text messages have no set style of punctuation, so everyone who uses them in their writing has to come up with a way to set them apart; it’s still an ongoing discussion as to what the proper punctuation should become (which is why I posted my own idea here).

    Unless nobody ever uses texts as dialogue again, “new grammar” is just something you’ll have to deal with. Sorry. *shrug*
     
  6. courtykat

    courtykat New Member

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    I did try to look for something “text bubble-y.” I was originally going to use brackets, but it wasn’t my favorite look, and I’ve not seen anyone else use a similar method. I need to find more stories with text convos to find better inspiration haha
     
  7. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    My choice is D- meh, whatever.
    Write it how you want to write it, or how others do it in novels/short stories. I feel it is a great time to reinforce the characters. Different people write texts in different ways. I tend to use caps and punctuation, most I text with do not. A lot can be conveyed about the person or situation by the punctuation and writing styles.
     
  8. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I appreciate your point of view on this, but I don't think it's possible to disagree more.

    It's important to experiment in fiction, with both content and form. I don't care if it hasn't been done before. The engine of art would seize if we looked only to prior established conventions to dictate what we should and shouldn't do. Yes, clarity is important, but so is experimentation. And, maybe it can be a bad idea (with traditional, highbrow publishing in mind) to submit a story with this kind of punctuation, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Maybe it would be a good idea to experiment once someone is more established, but the kind of conformist belief your espousing here is somewhat dangerous to the progression of art as a whole. I won't wax poetic at length about what art would look like if Picasso hadn't blown up perspective with cubism because people "wouldn't know what to think."

    All I'm saying is let's not diminish someone who is looking at punctuation in a new way. Language constantly evolves, and with it, so does punctuation. Text messages in fiction are a (relatively speaking) very new phenomenon. I personally like the aesthetic of the punctuation @courtykat has used. Does that mean I'm going to adopt it in all of my work? Absolutely not. Does it mean I'm going to laud it as the One True Way to punctuate text messages? No. But, it's certainly interesting to consider.

    Maybe this response seems disproportionate to your post, and I apologize for that, but this isn't aimed entirely at you @deadrats. I think your posts around here are valuable. I just think it's somewhat dangerous to talk about new form in fiction as something to be avoided.
     
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  9. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Huge fan. In fact I may borrow this punctuation myself, if the text requires it.

    I was actually groaning at the prospect of including text messages in a novel, but, your formatting provides the appropriate context for it, which makes it not so jarring. Nice job.
     
    courtykat and Spencer1990 like this.
  10. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    it's okay, a bit bubblegum for my taste - from my lofty tower,


    A brief moment <<<shudder>>> passed, and then a reply from one of my oldest girlfriends. « Lol kidnapping? Why do u need that »

    'Excuse me, who is this please?' I texted, oh no actually I said « My parents want to move. » I hesitated, then added another message to follow it. « Actually, scratch that. They ARE moving. »

    Another pause, and then all of the messages began flying at me at once.

    « Good »

    « what? who gives a fish »

    « good luck in Russa! »

    « Dickface »

    I grimaced at my phone. Then I read my booky.
     

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