Monday, November 7, 2022

When Characters Text: An Open Book Blog Hop post

Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Today's question: Nov 7, 2022 There don’t seem to be any universal rules for indicating texting in books and short stories. How do you handle it?

Texting hasn't really come up in my books that much so far, though I've seen it in other books, where entire pages of dialogue represent a text conversation. 

In my Menopausal Superheroes series, I've mentioned that texting is happening, but summarized the conversation rather than quoting it. I've used ordinary dialogue conventions for the few bits I've quoted fully, like so: 

From Going Through the Change, book 1

It's an interesting question. I've seen books that present it in imagery, so that the page actually looks like texting screen, like these superhero group chat memes (I love these things). 

It could get confusing though, if the formatting got jumbled when you moved from reading on paper to reading on a digital device or something, and I'm not sure how that would work at all in an audiobook. 

image source

But if it's just a few quotes, I think I'd still just write it out using ordinary dialogue conventions, but add something in the sentence to indicate that it's a text. Texting is definitely one of the most popular ways that people communicate here in the twenty-first century, so I'm sure some kind of standard will eventually be settled on to represent those conversations in books. 

Jane Austen never had to think about things like this! 

Do you have any opinions about how texting should be represented in books? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And don't forget to check out the other posts from my fine colleagues at Open Book via the link. 

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  1. I can imagine how Ms Austin's face might have looked if she had returned to the 21st century and had been asked this question regarding texting!

  2. The idea of a box around texts is appealing, I suspect that it's a formatting nightmare in waiting.

  3. Although I like the idea of the text boxes, I worry that they aren't practical for varying formats of writing