PDA

View Full Version : Using Emails in a Story



Clair Dickson
10-24-2008, 02:59 AM
I have a question about the best way(s) to use or reference emails between characters in a story.

For some silly reason (don't ask, I don't know why I did it this way!) I have two character who will occasionally be emailing each other through the course of my novel. I'm not sure what would be the best way to show this.

The two ways I came up with so far:
1. Write out the emails, separated from the text, block style or something like that. (But-- there's only a few, not a regular thing? Still okay?)

2. Just have my MC tell what was in the email. (So and so emailed me and told me x, y, and z, which helps my case because now I can go talk to whomever...) (This doesn't seem quite right, either.)

The novel is written in first person. If that makes a difference.

Your thoughts?
And thanks so much. =)

TrickyFiction
10-24-2008, 03:23 AM
I think it kind of depends on how much of the email is important to the plot. If you're just quoting a little of it, the second method would be fine. If you want to show the whole email, the first would be interesting.

Atlantis
10-24-2008, 03:53 AM
I have a question about the best way(s) to use or reference emails between characters in a story.

For some silly reason (don't ask, I don't know why I did it this way!) I have two character who will occasionally be emailing each other through the course of my novel. I'm not sure what would be the best way to show this.

The two ways I came up with so far:
1. Write out the emails, separated from the text, block style or something like that. (But-- there's only a few, not a regular thing? Still okay?)

2. Just have my MC tell what was in the email. (So and so emailed me and told me x, y, and z, which helps my case because now I can go talk to whomever...) (This doesn't seem quite right, either.)

The novel is written in first person. If that makes a difference.

Your thoughts?
And thanks so much. =)

Why are you worrying about something like this? Just do the first option. Write out the email, block style, different font, something to symbolize its been typed, courier new or something. Simple. :)

Ms Hollands
10-24-2008, 04:11 AM
A guy called Matt Beaumont wrote a novel that was entirely e-mails and no other narrative. The book's name is 'e'. It might be worth seeing what he incuded, bearing in mind time and date were all very important as the e-mails unfolded.

vixey
10-24-2008, 04:13 AM
In an on-hold WIP, my MC tells her parents through email that she's separated from her husband. I just mention the fact that her father keeps his computer on 24/7 to check his stocks and that she'd chosen cocktail hour to send the message. I didn't need to mention specifics.

*shrugs*

But, write what you think you need to right and edit later as Atlantis said.

rugcat
10-24-2008, 04:55 AM
AW's own Will Lavender's Obedience (http://www.amazon.com/Obedience-Novel-Will-Lavender/dp/030739610X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224809713&sr=1-1) has a great many emails woven into the plot. It's also a great read.

Chumplet
10-24-2008, 05:09 AM
I loved Obedience. Also, Marian Keyes' The Other Side of the Story had a lot of email exchanges in it. I don't know if it's available in the States, though...

You could indent both sides a bit and put it in italics?

Danger Jane
10-24-2008, 07:30 AM
If it was me, I'd just indent and italicize, maybe, instead of changing the font. I wouldn't want any agent to have any reason to think I was "trying too hard", for lack of a better phrase, and unless the font is significant to the story, why use it at the manuscript stage?

I guess I'd think about how I would make it clear that a portion of the manuscript was a (maybe handwritten?) letter, if I was writing on a typewriter?

qwerty
10-24-2008, 10:38 AM
I've got several emails in my latest novel. Set the way it has been suggested in a separate, italicised, indented block.

I've used them because they say something important in an instant way and tell exactly what is needed to be told without the need for explanation.

Nymtoc
10-24-2008, 12:37 PM
From what I've been able to gather, a lot of agents/publishers don't like a lot of shifting fonts, boldface, all caps, indenting whole paragraphs, etc. More than once I've come across a warning to keep it simple and not try to make your manuscript look like a printed page.

Take it for what it's worth.

:hat:

MagicMan
10-24-2008, 01:39 PM
The easiest way I found, was describe the action in the POV

I did my normal morning routine, brushed my teeth, showered, checked my emails, and wow, there was an email from Brad Pitt, no way!

I quickly opened the email, it read:

Brad Pitt endorses the newest generation of male enhancement....

I gasped at the attached pictures, and quickly deleted the email, but not before I got a big red stop sign with WARNING in the middle.

Ms Hollands
10-24-2008, 02:45 PM
The easiest way I found, was describe the action in the POV

I did my normal morning routine, brushed my teeth, showered, checked my emails, and wow, there was an email from Brad Pitt, no way!

I quickly opened the email, it read:

Brad Pitt endorses the newest generation of male enhancement....

I gasped at the attached pictures, and quickly deleted the email, but not before I got a big red stop sign with WARNING in the middle.

:D :D :D :D

Higgins
10-24-2008, 04:26 PM
I have a question about the best way(s) to use or reference emails between characters in a story.

For some silly reason (don't ask, I don't know why I did it this way!) I have two character who will occasionally be emailing each other through the course of my novel. I'm not sure what would be the best way to show this.

The two ways I came up with so far:
1. Write out the emails, separated from the text, block style or something like that. (But-- there's only a few, not a regular thing? Still okay?)

2. Just have my MC tell what was in the email. (So and so emailed me and told me x, y, and z, which helps my case because now I can go talk to whomever...) (This doesn't seem quite right, either.)

The novel is written in first person. If that makes a difference.

Your thoughts?
And thanks so much. =)

A lot of the early sneaky events of Iain Banks' Excession are shown to the reader in the form of messages between machine intelligences that are pretty much just email. It is kind of atmospheric at least.

vixey
10-24-2008, 04:29 PM
The easiest way I found, was describe the action in the POV

I did my normal morning routine, brushed my teeth, showered, checked my emails, and wow, there was an email from Brad Pitt, no way!

I quickly opened the email, it read:

Brad Pitt endorses the newest generation of male enhancement....

I gasped at the attached pictures, and quickly deleted the email, but not before I got a big red stop sign with WARNING in the middle.

Um .... could you forward that to me, please?? :D Since you've deleted it you can find it in your Trash Bin.

Clair Dickson
10-24-2008, 05:23 PM
Thank you for the input. I'm still waffling-- there's only one email so far and I don't imagine there will be a lot. Perhaps I can use it as a way to show what sort of person the emailer is. She's an important character, so it might be beneficial to the story to show what she writes in her emails.

Why angst over it? Because that's what I do. =D I originally wrote the information out in a paragraph (it was a tale about something the emailer and her pals did), but that seemed wrong. But having just one email separated from the text didn't seem right either. Maybe I'll play up the emails?

Still thinking. But thank you for the input all! =)

dpaterso
10-24-2008, 05:38 PM
I guess the important thing is, it's been done before, reasonably often, so you're not going to shock your readers by including an email or two.

-Derek