Monday, August 20, 2012

Ask the Editor: Text and Computer Messages in Fiction


 


Ask the Editor is on the 3rd Monday of the month. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and more! I will showcase questions and answers. To ask a question, please fill out the form below. (There will be no Ask the Editor in September due to the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh's Genre Favorites Blogfest. If you haven't signed up for it yet, you should consider doing so.)




I've been a freelance editor since November 2010. If I don't know the answer, I will find it.  


M. Pax asks, “How would you punctuate and set off a computer or text conversation? Such as lol. Would you use a period after it?

Most books set text messages and computer conversations (emails/IMs) off in a different font or indent differently. Some use italics or bold the lines. I did a bit of research on the topic, but nothing seemed definite on how to set of text/computer conversations. A key is consistency. If you do it one way, then keep it that way later in the book. As for “lol” with or without punctuate, punctuate how your character would. 

For example of a possible text message conversation between my sister and me:

Cherie: Where r u?
Kara: Walmart
Cherie: Ok
Cherie: Be there soon.

You can get a feel of the natural texting. Grammar/spelling rules don't completely apply to texts and computer messages because that's not how a lot of people type, so it is important to show that in a story.

11 comments:

Tyrean Martinson said...

Interesting. I've seen this in books recently, and although I haven't had a reason yet to write it (my books are more fantasy than scifi or modern), I can see where it would be helpful to have a style guide on this subject.
I like your answer, Cherie.

Kittie Howard said...

Great answer, Cherie. It's going to take a bit for this sub-class of English to formalize itself. However, English is an expandable language.

Clarissa Draper said...

I have seen computer writing in many more books lately and there hasn't been a lot of consistency. I like the idea of bold or italicizing the text.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I usually see it in a different font which works for letting me know it's not the person thinking or saying it.

Christine Rains said...

Interesting post. I think this is something seen more and more in books because so many people text these days. Thanks!

Samantha said...

It's interesting how much texting is coming up in books these days. I actually read a book series that was set entirely online with instant messaging and it was actually pretty cool! I think the first one was called TTYL, in case you were interested :)

M Pax said...

Well, I offset and italicized the text, Cherie. Will see how it survives back from the editor. :D

The Golden Eagle said...

It's interesting how texting/emails/other communication is becoming more and more common in books.

Gwen Gardner said...

I haven't come across this yet in any of the books I've read, or haven't used it yet in my writing, but I like your answer. Consistency and a different font makes sense:)

Hildred said...

Works for me! :)

Rachelle Ayala said...

Thanks Cherie. I do have text messages, e-mails, and voice-mails running through people's thoughts.