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Anonymous Traveler
01-19-2007, 12:01 AM
My MC and future Mrs MC are exchanging e-mails. Is there an accepted format for showing the messages?

blacbird
01-19-2007, 12:22 AM
I'd show them just the way they appear in an e-mail. I had a similar situation showing portions of a character's diary. I just tried to make it look like a diary entry.

caw

TemlynWriting
01-19-2007, 01:12 AM
Author Meredith Efken (http://www.meredithefken.com/html/read.html) used an e-mail chat list/loop as the basis of her two books, SAHM I Am and @Home for the Holidays. You may want to take a look inside SAHM I Am with Amazon's feature, or in your local bookstore.

The format she used was like this, with the following 3 lines in a box, and then the text of the e-mail following them, outside of the box:

From: Name <e-mail@emailaddress.com>
To: Name <e-mail@emailaddress.com>
Subject: Title of Subject

(She used the e-mail addresses and names because it was a group of people, not just two.)

It was definitely an interesting way to write (and read!) a book.

Good luck!

Anonymous Traveler
01-19-2007, 01:39 AM
The format she used was like this, with the following 3 lines in a box, and then the text of the e-mail following them, outside of the box:

From: Name <e-mail@emailaddress.com>
To: Name <e-mail@emailaddress.com>
Subject: Title of Subject

(She used the e-mail addresses and names because it was a group of people, not just two.)

Hmm in a box should make an interesting submission issue. I can format the box in Word.

So I do not need quotes or italics to differentiate e-mail text?

AND any ideas of fictitious e-mail providers. Sure a sh.. as soon as I actually get in publisher's hands that domain name will become a real one and will have more issues. (I may just register two real Hotmail accounts and keep them active.)

TemlynWriting
01-19-2007, 01:47 AM
Hmm in a box should make an interesting submission issue. I can format the box in Word.

So I do not need quotes or italics to differentiate e-mail text?

AND any ideas of fictitious e-mail providers. Sure a sh.. as soon as I actually get in publisher's hands that domain name will become a real one and will have more issues. (I may just register two real Hotmail accounts and keep them active.) Hmm... you know, I didn't even think of that. Since it's going to be dispersed in the midst of regular text, I'm really not sure whether or not the e-mail text should be quoted or italicized. Efken didn't because her entire book consisted of e-mails. Perhaps add a line or asterisks to indicate the end of an e-mail?

As for the e-mail addresses, Efken also used some real-sounding addresses, such as @home.com (I actually had a friend who's address was an @home.com address), and marcelloportaits.com, which doesn't pull up any actual site. I can't remember other domains and e-mails, but some of them were to a fictional e-mail loop, like Yahoo Groups.

I'll see if I can get the book from the library and dig up some more info for you.

K1P1
01-19-2007, 02:01 AM
You could do it with a different font. Using a proportional font for the regular narrative and a non-proportional font like Courier for the e-mails would do the trick. I've seen these sorts of interpolations done this way in the printed text. However, the publisher will want the text in your ms. to have as little formatting as possible, so you might want to indicate the start and end of the e-mail with a note like this:

[e-mail]
header

blah
blah
blah

[end e-mail]

Which is the way I indicate things like boxes, sidebars, and lists in my nonfiction ms. Or set off the notes with double parens (( )) intead of [ ], so that they won't accidentally get left in the edited ms.

TemlynWriting
01-19-2007, 02:21 AM
Great advice, Maggie! Thanks! :)

Anonymous Traveler
01-19-2007, 03:32 AM
, so you might want to indicate the start and end of the e-mail with a note...

And of course I've been through several style sheets and it is not mentioned. It it going to become an issue if it isn't already.

K1P1
01-19-2007, 06:32 AM
Are you going to be submitting this directly to the publisher, or submitting to agents? If to agents, I go with just using a different font for the e-mails. Once you've got an agent, get his or her advice on how to format the e-mails.

If you're submitting directly to a publisher, I'm not sure what advice to give you. This would be a good one to post to Nomad over at Ask the Editor.

AnnieColleen
01-19-2007, 06:37 AM
Have you seen an accepted format for letters in fiction? My guess would be that emails would follow a similar format. (I've wondered, but haven't researched yet.)

Anonymous Traveler
01-24-2007, 08:08 PM
This is what I went with. Story text full justified (can't do that here) and e-mail left justified only.

Sidney was sitting at his computer. He had prepared a suicide note and was about to send it, then end his protracted misery.

A new message was in his inbox. Automatically he scanned it before deleting. He was now half smiling and half crying.

From: KathyJJ@ hermail.com [mailto:kathyJJ@hermail.com]
Sent: January 12, 2007 6:17 PM
To: Sidney
Subject: DM website

I saw your posting on the school website.
I didnít think you still remembered me.
It was very beautiful. I remember that picture you took in the park.
Please write me back.

Love, Kathy



Sidney stared at the message. He was inches away from death and the woman he had agonized over for so long had reappeared. Only she knew about the picture, it had to be her. He turned to look at the rope slowly swinging over the chair. It and the guardian waited for him to complete his plan. It would have to wait.

PeeDee
01-25-2007, 01:27 AM
Aside from some passive sentences, that works fine for me. I can see it's an e-mail, and then I can just keep reading.

Anonymous Traveler
01-25-2007, 03:07 AM
Aside from some passive sentences, that works fine for me. I can see it's an e-mail, and then I can just keep reading.

Hmm, the spell check didn't show any.

jbal
01-25-2007, 03:11 AM
I'm reading lost boy, lost girl by Peter Straub right now, and at the beginning there are a few emails. He just had the addresses and subject line indented, and the whole text centered with slightly larger margins. I don't know if I'm explaining that well, so if you're in the bookstore, pick it up and you'll see what I mean. It worked, by which I mean it wasn't distracting.

Anonymous Traveler
01-25-2007, 03:53 AM
I will probably be the victim of editors later but for now this is the way I think I need to go. The style books are silent on this issue. And I use several different e-mail programs that display differently. This reads fine for now considering its pre-presentation.

Vandal
01-25-2007, 07:16 AM
I am following this thread closely because I use email messages many times in my story. The idea of using the header information (To:, From:, Subject: ) for one or two messages seems fine, but probably not if the messages are strung together like this:

Jane,
(text)
Dick

Dick,
(reply)
Jane

Jane,
(reply)
Dick

etc.

This is a chain email, for lack of a better term, and I have no idea how it needs to be formatted.