1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,663
    Likes Received:
    7,033
    Location:
    London, UK

    Writing out text messages

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tenderiser, Aug 23, 2015.

    If you've read any books featuring text message exchanges, how were they set out? Did it work for you? I'm in two minds about how to present them in my book. I'm aware an editor would prescribe a way to do it, if I ever get published, but it's irritating me and I want to sort it out now so I can stop thinking about it.

    The second issue I'm having is how to write them. I can't bear having my characters use txt spk and emoticons and the things that people generally use in text messages but, at the same time, it comes off a little odd when they exchange messages with perfect grammar and punctuation. If you saw something like this as a text message exchange, would it look unrealistic to you?

    Rachel: What did you expect?

    Alex: You actually own this on DVD? You paid money for it?

    Rachel: Don’t be jealous, you can get one too.
     
    Hubardo likes this.
  2. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,065
    Likes Received:
    4,149
    Location:
    Ringed City
    I don't think I've ever read a book with text messages written out (then again, considering the genres I read, it makes sense). I found some tips here: How to Format. Someone asked the same question there.

    Another editor says:
    (From Editor's Blog)

    As for your examples: my first thought was indeed "no one texts like that!" However, I think I'd still be ok with it 'cause it is quite annoying to read real texts.
     
    jannert and Tenderiser like this.
  3. Hubardo

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    568
    I have wanted to use text messages in a story for a long time so I'm glad you asked this. It's a great way to integrate a more modern application of epistolary style.
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  4. Jaro

    Jaro Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2014
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    71
    Location:
    Tulsa, OK
    To be honest it really depends on the person. I personally cannot stand text speak, even in text messages. There are times where I will use an abreviation or some such, and I do throw out a lot of 'lol's and 'lmao's. But for the most part I text like I speak. Quite a few that I text with do the same. But I do know it's not everybody.

    You could try just writing them out in a way that resembles how they appear on screen, something like writing out normal spoken dialog:

    "What did you expect?" Rachel texted

    "You actually own this on DVD? You paid money for it?" Alex replied.

    "Don’t be jealous, you can get one too"
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  5. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,921
    Likes Received:
    2,809
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    Rachel texted:

    "What you expensive cloth?
    clothes
    love yo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"


    "You own this on Development Treaty? You pair money for in it it?
    pain
    paid."

    Alex replied.

    " jealous, you get one tomorrow
    xx"

    "Ony too? :(," she said.

    "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    ffs
    xxxzcxxcxxxc."
     
    jannert, Sifunkle, Tenderiser and 2 others like this.
  6. Jaro

    Jaro Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2014
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    71
    Location:
    Tulsa, OK
    I just laughed so hard at that!
     
    matwoolf likes this.
  7. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,119
    Likes Received:
    699
    I have done this a few times in my work. I use quotation marks. It is in essence quoted speech and I just give a proper tag at the end. Or a beat. Found an example.

    Ring. Ring. Valorie received a text message. “Hey Val. Wanna go see a movie? One I really wanted to see just opened tonight. Thought we could make a girls night of it.” - Annie

    Another occasion I tested how it looked at all italics. Not sure if I liked it more or less;

    Are you free today? Wanna hang? -- Annie.


    Looking at her hand she couldn't get it to stop shaking. She didn't like this feeling at all.


    Beep. Her phone had received a message.


    Sure – Vanessa.

    In a sense I personally feel it is much more like quoting a sign. I mean if I wrote something like.

    Valorie was walking down the street she heard a loud noise, looking up she saw it had come from a bar; "Arthur's Place." She wondered if they served good food.

    In this context I think quoting is important. Because it is showing that what you see is exactly what she saw. The beat before it gives context too. At times like this I think it is good to remember quotes have more uses than just dialogue. lol.


    On the other note. Your dialogues doesn't seem very jaring to me but then again I am the person that does type text messages like that. I also speak like that. Your characters should have different voices. Whether it was a text, or speech you need to capture there voice. Me personally? I am a bad speller. So my text messages will have shorter words. It is also important to remember. Most people don't speak with perfect grammar, nor do they use it in text messages. Doesn't mean make it bad on purpose. As I just said, people have different styles in text, vs speech. So you can have most people have slightly better grammar in text if you prefer. I personally wouldn't find it jarring unless the contrast was way to much.

    If you do this, I would be left scratching my head.

    "Like, girls, we like so need to do, like do this... more..... something," Random Girl said as she began laughing and spilled her drink on herself. Her phone rang. She recieved a text message.

    "When you coming home," -Mom

    "Mother. I have done well on a test today and as we previously agreed I do not have a check in time tonight. I am having a most enjoyable evening and well inform you upon its conclusion unless I discover you have already turned in for the night. Please do not disturb me further and have a most enjoyable evening."

    lol. Okay that is pretty extreme but even when they are labeled clearly as the same person I would find that hard to believe.
     
    Jaro and Tenderiser like this.
  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,663
    Likes Received:
    7,033
    Location:
    London, UK
    Ha at (with) @matwoolf !

    I don't own a phone anymore but when I did, I wrote my messages like my characters do above. On Facebook and the like I write correctly as well except I don't generally punctuate the end of sentences. That's why I would cringe at writing text speak just like most people will go "wtf?" at my writing above.

    Perhaps I will see how it looks with leaving capital letters and some punctuation out...

    Rachel: what did you expect

    Alex: you actually own this on DVD? you paid money for it?

    Rachel: don’t be jealous, you can get one too

    ...meh.

    @GuardianWynn good points. Rachel is a writer and Alex is an intelligent professional, so I feel like neither of them would be all "lol u r so rite" but I need to find some differences. I will ponder.
     
    matwoolf likes this.
  9. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,921
    Likes Received:
    2,809
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    That way, but take out the 'did' and 'actually' and the 'don't be...'

    I think.
     
  10. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,119
    Likes Received:
    699
    I didn't address this issue before. So I will address it here.

    The thing I don't like about;

    Rachel:...

    Not sure what you call that script style but I think it looks out of place.

    I suppose maybe because it is script style but I doubt that is it alone. If I had to guess. I would say the issue is that it is just brass tax, the simpliest form. Which works for a script because characters are reading it aloud. It would be distracting if there was more than just the brass tax but a novel is not the same thing.

    Funny enough the (Name: . . .) concept is something I tried using for a radio in the workshop. Everyone agreed that they hated it. I tried it there for a stylistic choice. Yet I think it had the same problem, the brass tax style didn't mesh well with a novel-like story.

    As for the non-caps. Again goes back to a characters voice. If a character is OCD about grammar? Sure give her perfect text grammar. If someone is more relaxed, let the punction slide. If someone is super relaxed give them the "c u later" giving people there own voice based on there personality is something you should want to do anyhow. Right?
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    10,407
    Likes Received:
    7,057
    For what it's worth, I text with perfect grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I just can't bear to do otherwise.

    Edited to add: So does my SO, and most of the friends we text with. However, we're all over forty.
     
  12. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,119
    Likes Received:
    699
    You're so awesome!!!!!! Just in general!! I hope I am more like you someday! Sorry famboy rant has concluded.
     
  13. daemon

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,361
    Likes Received:
    985
    Rachel: yeah
    Rachel: what did you expect lol
    Alex: You actually paid money for it?
    Rachel: you can get one too
    Rachel: don't be jealous :p
     
  14. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    5,013
    Likes Received:
    2,747
    Fault in Our Stars involved text messages - you could check it out. Can't say I remember the formatting now, so it must've been easy enough to read! Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number also involved text exchanges, a number of them.

    I think one or two occasions of text speak is fine, but don't overdo it. Just write normally. Text exchanges in book run the risk of becoming far too forced - you're trying so hard to imitate real life that it ends up coming off as cliche, because you're trying to write the way you think a text exchange should go, should look like, as opposed to simply how your characters would actually communicate. The only text speak I still use is "cus" cus ( :bigtongue: ) it's so much shorter than "'cause ".

    Bt i used2 rite like dis, wen i ws 15 :whistle: and all my friends told me they never really understood my texts... In my defense, you were only allowed messages that ran about as long as a twitter update back then, so I had to be economical!! :geek:

    Anyway the best text exchanges are probably those ones where the reader is barely aware it's a text exchange in the first place. Like the way I know there were text exchanges in the 2 books I mentioned above, but can't for the life of me remember how it's formatted. I enjoyed both books thoroughly, esp Fault. What I'm saying is, don't draw too much attention to it. Just be normal.
     
    Tenderiser and GuardianWynn like this.
  15. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,393
    Likes Received:
    1,119
    Location:
    England
    Maybe you should be asking whether you need to show the texts at all. Wouldn't it be better to simply explain to the reader what was the text exchange was about, rather than show us the texts themselves?

    Rachel text me/Alex asking what I/he expected. I/he teased her about having actually paid for the DVD and she replied claiming I/he was jealous.
     
  16. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,663
    Likes Received:
    7,033
    Location:
    London, UK
    You're right about script style. I know I'm not currently writing them out correctly, I just don't know what to change it to.

    You're also right about voice. In speech they have distinct voices. Alex is more clipped, using short sentences and choosing words carefully because he's quite reserved. Rachel tends to say whatever comes into her head without much of a filter, using more casual terms and longer sentences. But in text, you can't really blurt things out, so she's thinking a little more about what she's saying and making it shorter, because who wants to type out a paragraph like this in a text? I might do something small like having her leave off capital letters and full stops but not him.

    He sent her a message expressing disbelief at the plot of the movie, and Rachel replied to ask what he'd expected. He teased her for having paid for the DVD and she joked that he shouldn't be jealous, and they were still for sale if he wanted his own copy.

    ...it sounds strange to me? Why describe dialogue when you can just write it? It does get rid of the 'how to present texts' problem, though.

    I definitely won't overdo it, that would be so irritating. There are two short text message exchanges - one late at night, when she doesn't want to call him in case he's sleeping (but thinks text is okay, is that just me?), so they exchange a few messages then talk on the phone. The other is where she's with her friends and doesn't want to talk out loud. I did think about changing them to phone calls but it seems realistic that there would be some texting as well. Apart from my 60 year old mother, I'm the only person I know who doesn't own a mobile and isn't constantly texting.
     
  17. Aaron DC

    Aaron DC Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,318
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    I have been wondering something similar for twitter conversations, which have the same character format and add the @<username> constructs.
     
  18. Aaron DC

    Aaron DC Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,318
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    It's not entirely helpful, but have you seen http://textsfromlastnight.com/ ?

    Oh except it shows not a lot of abbreviation.
     
  19. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    5,663
    Likes Received:
    7,033
    Location:
    London, UK
    Yes, always good for a giggle. :D I think they edit them to make sure they are comprehensible before posting.
     
  20. Aaron DC

    Aaron DC Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,318
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    Ahh ok makes sense.
     
  21. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    5,013
    Likes Received:
    2,747
    Nah, not just you - I also think it's fine to text people at any hour of the day, even at 2am. I think of them as a little like emails, I suppose? And yeah texting when you don't wanna talk out loud is definitely realistic - I email my husband even though he's sitting opposite me sometimes, especially when the baby's asleep.
     
  22. jakeybum

    jakeybum Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2015
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    10
    "Rachel: Don’t be jealous, you can get one too.

    Comma splice... uh-yah.
     
  23. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,982
    Likes Received:
    1,679
    Me too, and my (twenty-something) daughters.
     
  24. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    8,868
    Likes Received:
    8,556
    Location:
    Scotland
    I'm not a texter myself. I actually broke the text facility on my old Nokia - which I still use as a second phone in addition to my landline - by trying to employ correct punctuation! I figured out how to do it, but then the function wouldn't return to normal. So now when I press a letter key a couple of times so it travels to the next letter ...it doesn't. It just keeps repeating the original letter. I took the phone in to the O2 shop, thinking they could fix whatever I did ...and they couldn't! They said I needed a new phone. I said no, I just need to forget about texting. :) Some people hate me for this, but my life is unusually peaceful.

    My feeling about writing text-speak in the context of a novel is the same as writing dialect. Use just enough of it so the readers get a flavour of it, but don't attempt to reproduce it verbatim. (If text can be called verbatim?)

    In case you haven't guessed, I, too am 'over 40.' Considerably.
     
    Tenderiser likes this.
  25. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,065
    Likes Received:
    4,149
    Location:
    Ringed City
    Coincidentally enough, the YA novel I just started reading has written-out text messages. They were in italics and slightly intended.

    Like so omg.

    Or in quotation marks:

    I sent her a text: "I'll be there in 5."

    I guess she's made the decision at least partially based on the intended impact of the message. She has employed them sparingly, but still enough to give a fair idea of the amount of texting (or messengering/what'supping) teens nowadays do.
     
    Tenderiser likes this.

Share This Page