“Hey Lizard! I’m writing something about teenagers, so what do you think is the best way to write text messages?”
Oh my gosh, great question. So, to be perfectly honest, this is actually a bit of mystery to me as well at the moment. There isn’t just one way to do it. I’m pretty sure that every novel I’ve read does it a little differently so, there is some freedom.
One example I really love is from the novel Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. There are pages that are just back and forth, found text conversations, but then there are also instances where characters get texts and read them in scene. I’ve seen especially in things like group messages, it’ll have things like:
Ellie: heyyy what’s up???
Jake: hi ellie! Im @ work 🙁
Just as one example of formatting. I personally prefer when text messages aren’t so distracting on the page, changing the font, draws the eye there and sometimes gives things away. I’ve seen people italicized text messages, or even just put them in quotes and treat it like dialogue. There isn’t really a wrong way to do it.
If emojis enter the mix, I don’t really know? I think there’s so much room to play with it. I know The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson has emojis in it, but I found those text messages a little distracting – I’d always read them first and then have to back track.