How do you correctly put a text message in a story you are writing?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Whileartistic license is often taken in the literary forms such as drama, novels, short stories, and, especially poetry, authors do often adhere to traditional formats.  One such format that is regularly employed is in the use of dialogue.  When writing the words of a character or characters, for instance, writers usually include these words in quotation marks:

"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon," cried Daisy, " and the day after that, and the next thirty years?" (The Great Gatsby)

In addition to quotations marks, italics are sometimes used for the words of characters in dialogue; with either method, the words are usually placed on separate lines. Regarding a text message, which is essentially an electronic letter, indentation and blocking should probably be used since writers often indent letters and placethem in italics.  So, using Fitzgerald's novel again, in Chapter Nine, after the narrator Nick Carraway informs Gatsby's underworld boss, Meyer Wolfscheim, of his death, Wolfscheim (who is obviously uneducated) sends a letter:

Dear Mr. Carraway.[sic] This has been one of the most terrible shocks of my life to me I hardly can believe it that it is true at all.  Such a mad act as that man did should make us all think.....I hardly know where I am when I hear about a thing like this and am completely knocked down and out.

                                         Yours Truly

                                         Meyer Wolfscheim 

From the examination of other literary works, then, one can model one's own writing.  For one thing, it is apparent that the main concern with the recording of someone's words is the placement of them apart from the narrative either through the use of quotation marks and separate lines or blocked in italics.



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