Formatting (posted in the SPAG forum because I couldn't find another place to put it)


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Thread: Formatting (posted in the SPAG forum because I couldn't find another place to put it)

  1. #1

    Formatting (posted in the SPAG forum because I couldn't find another place to put it)

    I am writing a novel which involves a lot of written/electronic communication- emails, notes, texts, and so on. It switches frequently from the main third-person narration to the written text, so in my first draft I bolded all the written parts. Here's an example:

    The instant she logged on, she found a message waiting for her. From Erica. Hey! What’s new? How ya doing?
    Fine, Irene replied. Have you checked your work inbox today?
    Not yet.
    Irene sighed. Erica was at least twenty years older, twice as experienced, the one who’d taught her everything she knew- and yet Irene couldn’t help sometimes but think of herself as the more responsible. I’ll look.
    Me too, replied Erica instantly.
    Irene rolled her eyes and opened her inbox.

    In some spots this takes up entire pages. The problem is, the people who read it keep complaining to me that it's hard to read, and that the constant switching between bold and regular text is annoying. How can I fix this?

    One option I've heard involves putting each message in its own centered paragraph. That seems like a real pain given how much interplay there is between the written text and narration. Would putting all the writing into a completely different font help, or just make the problem worse? If changing the font is a solution, what fonts would work well together? (Right now the entire manuscript is in Times New Roman.) Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Yes, how you have it seems very distracting. Why not just put it in italics?

    ---------------------------------------

    The instant she logged on, she found a message waiting for her. From Erica: Hey! What’s new? How ya doing?
    Fine, Irene replied. Have you checked your work inbox today?
    Not yet.
    Irene sighed. Erica was at least twenty years older, twice as experienced, the one who’d taught her everything she knew- and yet Irene couldn’t help sometimes but think of herself as the more responsible. I’ll look.
    Me too, replied Erica instantly.
    Irene rolled her eyes and opened her inbox.

    ----------------------------------------

    In actual fact, this isn't how I'd handle it all and I'm not sure why you're trying to write it like you would a verbal conversation. Show the reader how it's working. If it's an email conversation, describe how it's unfolding.

    I'd do it more like this:

    The instant she logged on, she found a message waiting for her. It was from Erica and read simply: Hey! What’s new? How ya doing?
    .......Irene's fingers danced across the keyboard as she typed. Fine. Have you checked your work inbox today? She sat back in the chair and watched the screen, half expecting the reply that appeared.
    .......Not yet.
    .......She sighed. Erica was at least twenty years older, twice as experienced, the one who’d taught her everything she knew- and yet Irene couldn’t help sometimes but think of herself as the more responsible. She leaned forward and began typing again. I’ll look.
    .......Me too, flashed up Erica's reply almost instantly.
    .......Irene rolled her eyes and opened her inbox.

    ------------------------------------------

    Note: Those indents are there to simply replicate the proper indenting you'd find in published works. I don't know if you use indenting when typing, but I'd recommend it if you don't.
    Last edited by OurJud; September 12th, 2013 at 01:10 AM.
    "Lister, that is my private, personal, private diary; full of my personal, private, personal things."

  3. #3
    I'm currently using italics for emphasis and occasionally the thoughts of the characters, which is why I didn't use them for the text. 

     
    And it is all indented correctly in the manuscript. It just copied into the text box weird. Sorry.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Tusitala View Post
    I'm currently using italics for emphasis and occasionally the thoughts of the characters, which is why I didn't use them for the text. 

     
    And it is all indented correctly in the manuscript. It just copied into the text box weird. Sorry.
    Yes, any indents will be cancelled out when pasting to the forum. The only way I've found to put indents is to add .......... at the beginning of the indent, and then colour it white so it disappears.

    If you highlight the text on my last post, you will see where I've used the ....... for the indents.

    I think using italics for characters' thoughts is generally considered unnecessary. It should be obvious from the narrative that these moments are thoughts.
    "Lister, that is my private, personal, private diary; full of my personal, private, personal things."

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