I was reading a great post on Dan Alatorre’s blog today, “3 Ways to Show a Text Conversation” (that’s no longer available). It was talking about how to write text messaging in our manuscripts. He presented several ways of accomplishing it, but after some research and feedback he felt only one was a truly worthwhile way.
The problem with it, as Dan mentioned, is that there is no standard format for writing a text message conversation into a story. He suggested the best format possible be made the standard.
I had a thought about what I would assume texting talk should look like when reading a story. Here’s my spin:
What about offset like in the box without the box? You know? I’m going to write a quick story piece and insert a section of text talk to try to illustrate what I mean.
In advance, I’m sorry for the screen shot. I wanted to make sure the formatting would show and make sense.
Gretchen looked at her watch and flopped down on the couch with an exasperated huff. She’d gotten home from work expecting to spend the afternoon with her boyfriend, but his text was nothing short of a downer. Dating a firefighter definitely had its annoying moments, but she couldn’t deny he sure looked good in suspenders.
With this it’s like a double tab (and by tab I don’t mean really tab! Use the ruler/indent features to properly format) for one person and a triple tab for the POV person (I’m being lazy and using this term for the character from whose perspective we are seeing).
For consistency, the POV person would always be the triple tabbed one (farther to the right) like in a text box on your phone. The person texting you is always on your left and you are always on the right (or at least that’s how it is on my phone and computer).
Keeping the lines shorter and having double space between speakers also gives the appearance of texting. The POV is not in italics while the other person is. I’ve never thought of trying to write text conversations in a book, so it’s an interesting concept to consider.
Something like this hearkens back to how long quotes, songs, and other added elements are offset within a story. It relieves the need for beats (unless you want to add in what the POV character is doing or thinking while texting, which I think is a good thing) and dialogue tags for the texts.
I’ve never read texting within a story before, so this is a new concept for me, but I’m curious to know what you think of this possible method. It would be great to make sure we as writers have a consistent way of writing text message conversations in our manuscripts that are both easy for us to format and easy for our readers to follow.
I’m not sure how this element would be rendered with some software when auto formatting into epub and mobi formats, but I’d be curious to know.
But if I were to put texting into my manuscript, this is probably–and I’m way far away from 100% on it–how I would accomplish text message dialogue in a manuscript. Am I way off base or on to something? 🙂