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Writing a phone discussion

Some grammar rules (and embarrassing mistakes!) transcend the uniqueness of different regions and style guides. This new International Grammar section by OnlineBookClub.org ultimately identifies those rules thus providing a simple, flexible rule-set, respecting the differences between regions and style guides. You can feel free to ask general questions about spelling and grammar. You can also provide example sentences for other members to proofread and inform you of any grammar mistakes.

Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#1 by bigirimanacelestin
» 30 Aug 2017, 09:41

I was thinking about writing skills for twelve hours. I have made a research about best way to write phone conversation in a novel and trying to remember what have been taught to me , but it seems that nothing change to my understanding. Seeing then that, I have this forum and you as allies, I brought the issue here. If so, let us therefore discuss boldly about this kind of writing but if it is a wrong turn, show me the right place please.

Is it good to write a phone conversation like this in your book?

Tom – “Hi!Who is ths pl?”
Jane – “Ths is Camellia Goldsmith.”
Tom – “Do I knw u.”
Jane – “Ya u do knw me.”
Tom – “I am extrmly sryy. I can’t recall. May u pl hlp me.”
Jane – “Ystrdy u gve me a lift to my huse.”
Tom – “Oh!U!I rmember. I am John D’Souza. Hw r u?”
Jane – “Fever!”
Tom – “Wht? Hw did it hppen?”
Jane – “Aftr getting soaked in rain ystrdy.”
Tom – My God!Hve u tken medcne?”
Jane – “Ya!But it wll take its own tme to cure.”
Tom – “Tke vry gud care of yurslf. I will knw about yur health in intrvals.”
Jane – “Thnk u.”
Tom – “Wlcme!Bye fr now.”
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#2 by Angela Stripes
» 30 Aug 2017, 11:26

Personally, if this is a conversation taking place over text or verbally, there's one technique I use in writing dialogue that helps the scene as a whole. (this is going to depend greatly on your writing style, and if you're writing genre fiction or interpretive fiction) I'm going to guess based on the spelling you used, this is a texting conversation.

Its going to come down to style and preference (again), but personally I don't like reading text messages (on my phone or in a book) when the sender isn't spelling an entire word out. Abbreviations are okay here and there, but if its in the style presented in the example given, its more frustrating.

Another factor that will influence how you execute this, is the culture the characters live in. If they're high-school kids, they're more apt to use this kind of informality and short-cut spelling. Thirty-year-olds? I don't know, maybe a few phrases, but probably not the entire message.

Basically, there are a few guidelines to follow (as you mentioned) but its just going to come down to the specific situation you're using the conversation for. Is text even the best place to be having this conversation? Why not in person? Or why not verbally, where tone of voice can come into play?

In either case, I like to see the characters move around in between sending the texts. Let's say Jane is on the bus on her way to meet a friend for coffee, and Tom is on his way to work, running late and trying to fix breakfast.

“Hi!Who is this pl?" Tom hit send before snatching at the toast after it popped up. He had gotten half the slice buttered before the reply came through.
“This is Camellia Goldsmith.”
Tom paused. Goldsmith? He typed out an answer, careful not to smear the screen with soft yellow spread. “Do I know u?”

Or we could get Jane's side of it.

Jane's lap buzzed, drawing her gaze away from the street-side view of her window seat.
"Hi! Who is this pl?"
She smiled. "Camellia Goldsmith."
Someone in the back laughed so loud, she started in her seat.
"Do I know u?"
Jane sighed.

See how we're getting characterization and an attitude along with the conversation? I added a few letters, but kept some abbreviations as well. Again, this is just my style and preference, but you'll have to decide what will develop your story and characters the best.

Does that help? Overall, I would really recommend not leaving a chunk of dialogue in a story or novel. :tiphat:
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#3 by bigirimanacelestin
» 31 Aug 2017, 01:59

Angela Stripes wrote:(this is going to depend greatly on your writing style, and if you're writing genre fiction or interpretive fiction) I'm going to guess based on the spelling you used, this is a texting conversation.


For you it seems that answer is yes depending on genre and the culture in which the character live in(for kids is OK but not for old).
Indeed, your style and preference clearly indicate the position of the character.
Thank you for your post.
It is helpful.
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#4 by njenganjery2017
» 12 Sep 2017, 16:44

It can very challenging if you are not used to short text messages.l don't think its good to write a phone conversation in a book like that.
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#5 by FNAWrite
» 14 Sep 2017, 12:34

My first comment would be to ask you if you have ever seen a conversation such as your sample in a book. I'm guessing your answer would be "No." It looks and reads awkwardly. The use of Tom-, Jane-, and so on is not an acceptable device to use.

I realize that you produced this sample for your question but wow, could this conversation be any more mundane? Ordinary things happen even in fictional lives, but that doesn't mean they should be memorialized. I think such conversations should be avoided. I'm prejudiced by my age, but I think texting conversations should be avoided in a book if possible
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#6 by Vivian Paschal
» 16 Sep 2017, 03:34

FNAWrite wrote:My first comment would be to ask you if you have ever seen a conversation such as your sample in a book. I'm guessing your answer would be "No." It looks and reads awkwardly. The use of Tom-, Jane-, and so on is not an acceptable device to use.

I realize that you produced this sample for your question but wow, could this conversation be any more mundane? Ordinary things happen even in fictional lives, but that doesn't mean they should be memorialized. I think such conversations should be avoided. I'm prejudiced by my age, but I think texting conversations should be avoided in a book if possible


Like @FNAWrite pointed out, ordinary things happen even in fictional lives. So, I don't think texting conversations should be avoided since they are ordinary things that can happen in fictional lives. I just think the style of writing it is what matters. Such writing must be done with expertise or it will read awkwardly. I think @Angela Stripes gave a very useful advice. You've got to make it flow just as it would if it was done over a phone call or even a face-to-face conversation.
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#7 by RegularGuy3
» 16 Sep 2017, 06:15

Elmore Leonard was a master of writing spoken dialogue. I can't do it myself or even really explain it, but give some of his stuff a try if the subject interests you.
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#8 by bigirimanacelestin
» 27 Sep 2017, 09:18

FNAWrite wrote:My first comment would be to ask you if you have ever seen a conversation such as your sample in a book. I'm guessing your answer would be "No." It looks and reads awkwardly. The use of Tom-, Jane-, and so on is not an acceptable device to use.

I realize that you produced this sample for your question but wow, could this conversation be any more mundane? Ordinary things happen even in fictional lives, but that doesn't mean they should be memorialized. I think such conversations should be avoided. I'm prejudiced by my age, but I think texting conversations should be avoided in a book if possible


It is not a manipulated story to react about it.It is a vivid example brought from a fiction book that I have read last month. As I have said before in my post number 1, this writing style has embarrassed me and made me think deeply about the best style to be used. With your help I see that things are now going to be clear.

-- 27 Sep 2017, 09:20 --

RegularGuy3 wrote:Elmore Leonard was a master of writing spoken dialogue. I can't do it myself or even really explain it, but give some of his stuff a try if the subject interests you.


Thank you Leonard.
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― Maya Angelou
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#9 by BoyLazy
» 30 Sep 2017, 09:19

Nice comments. Good to learn this.
Be lazy..
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#10 by bigirimanacelestin
» 11 Oct 2017, 01:34

BoyLazy wrote:Nice comments. Good to learn this.



Thank you .
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#11 by Gifty Naa Akushia
» 12 Oct 2017, 13:49

Thanks, this style of writing may be ok however, I think it may sell to just a few audience.
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Re: Writing a phone discussion

Post Number:#12 by bigirimanacelestin
» 20 Oct 2017, 03:18

njenganjery2017 wrote:It can very challenging if you are not used to short text messages.l don't think its good to write a phone conversation in a book like that.


If it cannot be written like that , what suggestion do you have?

-- 20 Oct 2017, 03:23 --

Gifty Naa Akushia wrote:Thanks, this style of writing may be ok however, I think it may sell to just a few audience.


For the author interest to sell more is a target, then how can he improve it?
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― Maya Angelou
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