Texting and other forms of communication.


Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.



There don’t seem to be any universal rules for indicating texting in books and short stories. How do you handle it?


Please excuse the brevity of this week’s answer. I’m currently tied up with this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge.

As the words are flowing, I’ve not had as much time as I normally have to spend on this week’s topic.


The simple answer to this week’s prompt is, I leave it to my editor. However, that seems to be a bit of a cop-out so I’ll give you a little more than that.

When the first style guides were written, things like text, email or instant messaging were unknown, so there’s no real precedent to show us how to indicate these ways of getting information across. As far as I can see, that doesn’t matter too much, the crucial thing here is to ensure that the reader knows where the information is coming from.

This fact might well be crucial to their understanding of the plot, in a more extreme case, the whole story could rest on it.

Although I’ve always credited my readers with good taste, as well as the ability to make sense of my writing, you have to assume that they will not always realise some of the things that they should.

Factors such as where and how they are reading, what else is going on in their lives and many others can mean that they miss some of the important bits.

So I always try to make it clear, by referencing it in the narrative, where dialogue or other information/backstory comes from. In case they get confused and have to back-track.

I sometimes use italics for information where the origin might not be immediately obvious, to make sure that it sticks, or ‘single quotes’ instead of “doubles” (I am British) to distinguish different parts of the story’s exposition.

If the information is more than just a couple of lines, or tangential to what’s actually going on at the time, yet needs to be mentioned, I might enclose it in markers,


like this.


My editor approves of all these devices, or at least she doesn’t change them, so I feel that I must be doing the right thing.


Until next time.



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8 Responses

  1. Samantha J Bryant

    “leave it to my editor” is a fair answer–especially is they are helping you adhere to a style guide. I wonder if we’ll eventually see a standardized approach to this or not.

    • Richard Dee

      I guess everything will catch up in the end, until the next big thing renders it all out of date.

    • Richard Dee

      That’s a good question, there’s always something else. Next thing you know, there will be 3D hologram calls.

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