I REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A RANT. It’s the opposite! More like… a rave.
I still feel starting it off with ‘alright, so’, though.
Alright, so… I’ve got something that I just realized I actually really love. And what on Earth could that be? (Other than pizza rolls dipped in ranch dressing and the movie White Chicks, of course.)
It’s this sort of new, sort of old idea that more and more authors are tying out these days. And that is… writing a book completely through text messages. Or, it could be IMs, emails… what have you, but you get the idea.
So, I first really liked this idea when it was first becoming a thing a few years back. When I was probably around middle school age, this series of teen fiction-esque books came out by Lauren Myracle, and they were all written completely in classic IM style between a trio of high school girls. I just happened to find the first book, TTYL, in a book store one time and thought it sounded interesting, so I bought it, and then asked for the rest of the books in the series for Christmas, and then… the rest is history. I had completely forgetten all about these books until recently, though, when Wattpad (which we all know is like a second home to me) came out with a new app called Tap.
I heard about the app from the ads all over the Wattpad website about a month ago, and I decided to give it a download and see what all the hype was about.
Okay, so… what is the app, then?
Glad you asked (or that I just asked for you)! Tap is a new app where you basically read short stories that are completely typed into text messages. It’s not like you’re just reading them from a book, though, you have to tap the screen to get through each message, one by one. If it sounds weird or mildly interesting to you, then I’d recommend you go and just try it out for yourself!
Anyway, I downloaded the app and started reading short stories on it… and then it made me remember those books I read way back when, and it made me remember that I actually still have those books on a bookshelf somewhere, and it made me go find them and reread every single word in each.
Alright, so why am I writing about all of this, anyway?
I don’t know what it is, but I’m just really drawn to message style books. Actually, I do know; that’s what I’m here to talk about.
I have to spill a secret…
Personally, I’m not a huge reader for enjoyment… I still do it, but it’s honestly not my favorite hobby. There’s a lot of other things I would prefer to do… because reading takes a lot of time, and, when I do read, I always read the whole book at once. That’s just how I am.
Also, whenever I read… I speedread. And I skim a lot. Again, that’s just how I am.
So then… I actually like reading messaging-like books (I’m not even sure what else to call them at this point) because I can speedread it, and I don’t have to feel guilty about skimming long descriptions and scene setups… because there are none! It also takes a lot less time to read a book written in text messages… because there are usually a lot less words to read than a normal novel.
But, okay, that’s just the beginning of why I like these types of fiction. If you’re not a big speedreader like I am, don’t worry, I’m not done yet.
Writing in text messages keeps the readers’ attention a lot longer than normal works do. Think about it… whenever you’re reading, say, the text message conversation between your best friend and his/her potential future partner that he/she wants to show you because he/she thinks him/her is ‘the one’ and wants your opinion on how promising their electronic conversation sounds so far… you’re hooked until you get through every message, right? You even keep shushing him/her until you are done. If you’ve never been in that situation before, though… then relate it to how you feel whenever you get a long text message from anyone. You know… you’re intrigued by it, you want to know what it says, you have to know what it says, right away! Now, imagine reading a book full of long text messages (although not all are long) just like that one. You’d probably be hooked for a pretty long time.
Another way to look at a book full of text messages is to look at it like it’s a book full of dialogue that never ends. It’s like one long string of texts equals one long string of dialogue, only the texts don’t have to have any extra words in between the quotation marks and they can get away with it. I mean, if you hate writing descriptions and detailed actions but love writing character thoughts and dialogues, then writing a messaging book is your calling!
Okay, sure, a novel written completely in text messages or IMs can have a lot of downsides, too. Like… well, if something happens in your characters’ lives that you don’t make them discuss openly in their messages, then your reader is going to be lost. Everything has to happen in the messages, or else it pretty much doesn’t happen at all. It also possesses a challenge… you have to write each text like a text. That means, probably, imperfect grammar (that one would be tough for me to get over), implementing repetitive text lingo (ttyl! Or… brb, g2g, ily… and whatever else is ‘in’ these days), and somehow making each character’s writing different enough from the others to keep his/her own personality. There’s probably tons more negatives to this style than what I could think to mention… but this post is about the postives!
Alright, so… bottom line: text message writing is kind of new, kind of old (it’s been developing over the years more than you’d think) and, overall, it’s different. It’s a lot different than classic, regular same-old, same-old novel writing. It’s got potential, though, if you want to take the challenge to use it and if you work it in a way that works.
If you ask me, though, I’d say at least try it out for a short story or something for yourself. I love the idea of this whole messaging style thing and I think it’s really interesting to get into and read. Who knows… maybe I’ll even take on the challenge myself some day…
Until then, though, I wanna know what everyone else thinks about this idea. Would you ever write a novel completely in text messages? Would you read one? Or do you despise the style altogether?
Also, I would definitely recommend trying out the tap app when you get a chance. Or even the older books I mentioned earlier; they’re still relevent today if you’re interested enough to read them!
(P.S. wwyd= what would you do, ttfn= ta ta for now!)