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EnkelZ
01-04-2010, 02:43 PM
I appologize if this is a repeat, but this doesn't seem to turn up anything specific when I search for it.

I'd like two characters to develop an extensive part of their relationship using email and IM communications over a period of three months. Does anyone have any examples of how this has been handled in fiction novels? I"m kind of stumped (but its a critical part of the plot).

I've thought about a narrative with a few verbatim communications sprinkled in. When I try it, it comes off as to "tellish" to me. Other than this part of the plot, the story is heavily dialog driven. Is there some accepted way to format electronic communications more like dialog?

Any suggestions or pointers to examples (or even other threads) would be appreciated!

kaitie
01-04-2010, 04:14 PM
I did this quite a bit, but that probably doesn't help any, does it? Anyway, in mine email and media things were being used as a compliment to the rest of what was going on, so I just could set the message or whatever in italics. The messages were short, however, and there was enough other stuff going on to keep it from getting too tedious. I've seen a movie that handled it pretty well, but it was Japanese so that doesn't help a whole lot, I imagine.

Anyway, if you think of it, an IM is a lot like dialogue. I don't think it would hurt anything to have a few conversations or emails scattered throughout, I'd just say avoid having that be the main thing in there because that could get old fast.

gothicangel
01-04-2010, 04:45 PM
I've used a lot of the new technology in my crime novel. Only one email (connected to video footage) though. I also use search engines, mention wikipedia and FaceBook. I would think avoiding the technology would make a writer look out of touch with mass culture.

I remember a book I've read that has emails and the name escapes me. Plotting For Beginners? [it's a novel.]

firedrake
01-04-2010, 05:52 PM
I used e-mail and IM a little in my contemp novel.

For the emails, I used italics.
For the IM conversations, one character was in italics, the other in bold.

I didn't use a lot, but the MC's fiance was in Afghanistan, so it was a way for them to keep in touch, albeit sporadically. I think it works quite well.

analias
01-04-2010, 07:22 PM
For the emails, I used italics.
For the IM conversations, one character was in italics, the other in bold.

This is a nice idea.

I haven't read novels with emails and IMs in them specifically but I have read some with letters and it seems like you could use the same formats. For emails, the italics are nice but also just include the header.


To: EnkelZ@something.com
From: analiassomethingelse.com
Date Sent: 01/04/2009
Subject: Using email in a plot

Anyone with a passing familiarity is going to recognize this as an email.


analias

For the IMs, as someone else said, they do act a lot like dialog to begin with, you just replace the "he said" or "so and so said" with the usernames (make sure you establish who uses which username first, obviously)

EnkelZ: Hey! U there?
analias: Yep, s'up?
EnkelZ: Got any ideas on this IMs in plot thing?
analias: Not really, just wingin' it

Meanwhile I'm scouring Google to find something for EnkelZ. Who knew it would be so difficult to search for "IM"?

EnkelZ: I tried to Google it, but it's a pain to search for "IM"

I laughed and switched from the Google search results to check gmail instead.

analias: lol, ok so you thought of that, I should have known.


But like I said in my IM - I'm totally wingin' it here. :D


Good luck!

Danthia
01-04-2010, 07:31 PM
Lauren Myracle has an entire series called The Internet Girls that's done all in IMs. Albert Boris's Crash Into Me also has snippets all through where the characters are talking in IM. Crash is probably closer to what you're talking about though.

Melville
01-04-2010, 07:42 PM
A HUGE part of Reginald Hill's A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES consists of lengthy "tell" emails from one character to her sister (who is not a character in the book). The emails are filled with misspellings and email shorthand.

There were no IM's but if it's emails you're looking for, this book has it.

Collectonian
01-04-2010, 07:43 PM
Ronald Munson does this particularly well, IMHO, with his novel Fan Mail - the entire novel is told through emails, faxes, phone conversations, and other documents.

Lady Ice
01-04-2010, 09:45 PM
You could always watch 'You've Got Mail', lol.

veinglory
01-04-2010, 10:17 PM
IM by Rick Reed (http://www.amazon.com/IM-Rick-R-Reed/dp/1932300791) comes to mind. Of course those relationships don't, um, go very well.

EnkelZ
01-06-2010, 05:05 AM
Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you.

You would not believe how hard it is to google up books containing emails and IMs. I'll go through the recommendations that you've posted and look at how they were handled.

Again, I can't thank you enough. I've only just begun reading this site and it is absolutely wonderful. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to contribute as well as receive.

EZ

Editing to add some info in case anyone else happens on this thread with same questions.

I'm reading preview of A cure for All Diseases on books.google.com at http://books.google.com/books?id=_E86gxhoRDEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Reginald+Hill's+A+CURE+FOR+ALL+DISEASES&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

It is in fact email based book. I find the emails to be hard to read and found a reviewer already familiar with the author who's opinion I second. The entire review can be found here: http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/reviews/A_Cure_For_All_Diseases.html the specific opinion is copied below:

"The remaining parts consist of emails from Charlotte Heywood (a recently graduated psychologist who has been persuaded to cast a scientifically-biased eye over the therapies that go on) to her sister, relating everything that goes on in the town and the things she notices. And it's these that are the problematic ones. Heywood is in a brilliant position to witness events that are crucial to the story, or could be, and Hill uses this excellently. However, I suspect many people (and a brief peruse of amazon confirms this) will not find these emails easygoing, especially Hill's core readership. They are written as genuine informal emails are - without such things as apostrophes, much regard for grammar, spelling, etc. They are not, let us say, a form of writing that's very easy to read, or get used to, if you don't use it yourself. Even I found them a little excessive at times, though for their length more than anything else, and the fact that I so enjoy the other two styles. The use of emails is not exactly new (as any reader of Minette Walters will know), but to include any in the style of these in a novel is a bold move indeed. And Hill does use them to illustrate the character of Charlotte Heywood brilliantly."

I kind of wish I could find a way around the email/IM relationship, but it is critical to my plot... hate when characters do that to me!

The only comment that I would add to how it was done in the book is that the book provides complete email addresses (e.g. character@domainname.com ). I plan to do what yahoo groups does and truncate the domain names in order to not have to deal with actual domain owner concerns. If you're not a member of yahoo groups, the names are truncated at the third character followed by an elipse

So Mrs Somebody Character <character@domainname.com>
Becomes Mrs Somebody Character <character@dom...>

Thanks again to everyone.

EnkelZ
01-06-2010, 05:39 AM
Okay, figured out the advanced search and here are some additional threads on emails:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=151453&highlight=email

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=132461&highlight=email

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=129899&highlight=email

RevisionIsTheKey
01-06-2010, 10:03 AM
"The remaining parts consist of emails from Charlotte Heywood (a recently graduated psychologist who has been persuaded to cast a scientifically-biased eye over the therapies that go on) to her sister, relating everything that goes on in the town and the things she notices. And it's these that are the problematic ones. Heywood is in a brilliant position to witness events that are crucial to the story, or could be, and Hill uses this excellently. However, I suspect many people (and a brief peruse of amazon confirms this) will not find these emails easygoing, especially Hill's core readership. They are written as genuine informal emails are - without such things as apostrophes, much regard for grammar, spelling, etc. They are not, let us say, a form of writing that's very easy to read, or get used to, if you don't use it yourself. Even I found them a little excessive at times, though for their length more than anything else, and the fact that I so enjoy the other two styles. The use of emails is not exactly new (as any reader of Minette Walters will know), but to include any in the style of these in a novel is a bold move indeed. And Hill does use them to illustrate the character of Charlotte Heywood brilliantly."

I kind of wish I could find a way around the email/IM relationship, but it is critical to my plot... hate when characters do that to me!

I read one of Lauren Myracle's books, TTFN and nearly lost my mind. It's a YA novel and I cannot imagine anyone who grew up before IMing being able to read it without developing a major headache or a twitch or something. :Headbang: Of course, teens adore her books.

My guess is excessive use of emails and IMs would turn off some readers. Messages sent by email can also look less inviting on the page if their back and forth goes on for a long time. I'd lean towards your idea to incorporate them into the narrative sporadically rather than rely on them a whole lot.

Rushie
01-06-2010, 10:12 PM
It was done very well in In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Room-Jordanna-Fraiberg/dp/1595141936

Ms Hollands
01-07-2010, 12:58 AM
Matt Beaumont's 'e' is written entirely as e-mails around an office. Easy to read and innovatively written many years ago when e-mail first became an office tool.

RevisionIsTheKey
01-07-2010, 02:14 AM
Matt Beaumont's 'e' is written entirely as e-mails around an office. Easy to read and innovatively written many years ago when e-mail first became an office tool.

The important thing is "easy to read." Myracle's books are written in IM abbreviations and after a while that gets very tiring.

singsebastian
12-23-2010, 04:34 AM
In my experience, this is the best story written with e-mail...owl-post, in mind. :)
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3689325/1/The_Original_Naked_Quidditch_Match