Do you know how to write texting?

Texting is here to stay.

At least until Apple comes up with the next best thing.

Pixabay Images

If our stories are to stay current, we need to discuss texting

Writers need to stay on top of trends and changes, whether they are permanent or fads. Why? Because it dates the story.

I’m discovering more and more the need for research. You may not be writing a historical or technical book, but the need for research is ever-present.

Children’s book? Need to research games they play, books they read or don’t read. Type of clothes they like, yes, even in kids.

YA? Research required not just in slang terms, but clothing, electronics, TV, social media, peer pressure and that’s only the beginning.

Fiction books require research as do non-fiction.

All that brings me to texting. If you want to write a texting scene in your book, research is a must. Start with your phone, that of your kids etc. However, like with most things in the real world, not all translate on to the written page with ease.

And an article by Rachel Ritchey which arrived just when I needed more insight into what other writers were thinking.

As Rachel mentions, writing “text” messaging into a novel is a new concept. Uncharted territory if you will. As strange as an alien planet.

Pixabay Images

So far, there is no standard.

And I’m not sure there could be, a texting conversation between adults is different from those between teenagers. After all, our in-person conversations are different too.

Young adults use emoji, online jargon and abbreviations. Older people are more likely to write out whole sentences. Yep, more research.

On one point I do agree, whichever way you choose to show a text conversation make sure you stay consistent throughout the novel.

Here is a sample of a chapter I’m working on.

Maybe I should try one more time. I tapped the text icon. Nothing new. My last texts stared at me, unanswered. This wasn’t like her. No calls, no texts, nothing. Not since Saturday night.

The music made talking impossible. My head pounded with the base. Midnight even on a Saturday was too late for me to play sister to Cinderella. I needed sleep. I texted Tiff. Her blond curls popped above the crowd, she waved at me and nodded. 

12:01 AM

Headache going hm




Disappointment, not anger. That was the last time I saw her, grinding against tall, dark and handsome on the dance floor. My head pounding, I’d gone home.

Next day, awake and feeling better after a long hot shower, I texted her, ready to hear all about the good-looking guy and what happened after I left.

9:50 AM

U up yet?

I’d waited until almost noon before sending another. Even Tiff wouldn’t waste a beautiful Sunday afternoon sleeping.

11:50 AM

CM details on last night

2:00 PM

Tiff WRU?

5:00 PM

CM!! WRU???

8:00 PM

GDI answer UR phone!

I’d tried calling several times. Rolled to voicemail again and again. Not like her. 


Rachel gives examples of how she thinks texts should be written as well as a link to another good author and his opinion. 

Texting Conversations in Writing: What’s the best format? 

What about you? Have you written a texting scene into a story line yet?

How did you show the texting conversation? 

Which way looks best to you?

Leave a comment, inquiring minds want to know. 

You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! Please remember to click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.


28 thoughts on “Do you know how to write texting?

  1. My novel from 2012, 2013, n 2014 contains texts n time differences. I tried to do it like it’s seen on the phones. I also bought my little neighbor the book for a bday one year, can’t remember which bday. Later it became a movie I heard.


  2. I don’t really think it’s new territory. The first books I remember reading ‘text’ messages from would be in Sisterhood of the traveling pants. Texting and Instant messaging to me, are similar so I would say the formatting (for me) is similar. It is a little tricky, but an author needs to use consistent formatting throughout the book series for it to be legit. I’m writing a NA romance series so texting is definitely there. I usually write texts in bold print, indented on their own line. I don’t think college students use as many acronyms but maybe they do lol. I also indicate the name of the person sending the text. Now most phones these days have a bubble around the text. That might be something to think about but I do not do time stamps. Though in the xample you gave, the time stamps make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haven’t read Sisterhood, but I’m seeing texting more and more in books. From what I’ve found, YA use mixture of acronyms and normal words or a version of short-speak.
      The time stamp is on some phones, I haven’t decided if they will make it to the final product. I can see the argument for adding names with the texts but most phones don’t do that- something to “research.” Thanks so much for your input. You are so right about keeping consistent throughout the manuscript.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great Article Jean. I really like your thoughts and take on the subject. I still find myself wondering if such use of indentation and icons, etc will actually work when formatting for ebook, which is what seems to be the biggest sticking point with using a visually inspired context for text conversation in writing. It is easy to follow how you wrote it, I think. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Thanks Rachel, I think. This is a first draft and I’m not sure how I’ll finalize it in the end. I’ve thought about using emojis and texting call-outs but they would have to be inserted as art work. Hmm, still pondering.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. haha Sorry for making that comment seem ambiguous! I wish there was already a really cool app built into some writing tool that made formatting this stuff easy. If I was a programmer, or knew how to do it, I’d make an app for that! haha

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually have one book that I am presently writing that has quite a bit of text in it. But I can’t bring myself to use the abbreviations, or forget the punctuation. I refuse to be a party to the destruction of the English language. My kids say when I use punctuation in my texts I sound mad. How? I don’t get it. I say I don’t care and just to annoy them I put a period even after Yes or No. Then they text me back – You mad bro? Then I text back and say – No. I. am. not. mad. That annoys them to no end.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We wrote a text sequence into one of our books a year or two ago….but instead of making it look visually authentic, just used blocks of text to report the exchange. It worked well enough in the context. I dislike the texted abbreviations at the best of times… and my co-writer doesn’t understand them anyway 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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