Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday's Writing Question!

First I have to start by saying I'm LOVING this weather! It's warmed up, the snow is melting off and my resurrection lilies are sprouting up. How cool is that? I love seeing signs of spring! I'm SOOOOO not a winter person. Ugh! It seems to just drag on forever for me.

Okay, so I have a question for you all. Status updates, instant messages and tweets. For a writer, online promotion is very important. If we want to sell any books at all we have to get our name out there. There are tons of free ways to do this through social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Twitter and Bebo. You can even connect with readers through places like Shelfari and Goodreads. There are also advantages to having an instant messenger like Yahoo or AIM. Personally, I have family, a few friends, and also people from the publishing world on my YIM. It's a great way to quickly connect with say my editor, my publisher, even reviewers without having to send an email that's going to fill up their inbox--and maybe get lost in the pile!

The thing is, with all these quick messages going out we tend to use quick words and short sentences. Punctuation is not top priority when updating your status message on Facebook. I don't always dot every i in my IMs either. My question is, does it make an author look unprofessional to use text speak? U instead of you. R and instead of are. YW instead of you're welcome...?How far is TOO far when it comes to text speak for authors?

My own personal thought is that we should sound professional, but human. In other words, posting a message on your friend's page--where everyone can see--that says, "Sup, biatch?" is NOT professional. But leaving a smiley face at the end of a status update shows you're, well, happy. That can't be a bad thing, right? I do feel we should watch how 'teenagerish' we get too. My girls roll their eyes when they see me spell out words in an IM. They figure that's lame. Then again, they aren't 42 years old and trying to make a career out of words!

So, what're your thoughts? How far is too far when it comes to slang and abbreviations?


Beth said...

The sorta flip side of the question is how much would your readers understand of text speak. I'm having to ask my daughter at least once a week what something means/stands for. Less frequent than I used to but I'm still seeing new ones all the time.
I'm not a writer myself(yet), but I almost always spell out what I'm saying. It's just courtesy for those who may not know the acronyms like some others do. I've seen comments on blogs that it's hard to suss out because of all the shortened words.

Madison Scott said...

That's a hard one. I'm with you, human but professional.

Jolie Cain said...

I don't text talk, although I did start getting really lazy and quit using capital letters for a while. Then my English teacher background caught up with me. lol!

Shawna said...

Ooooh, this is so a major issue with me! I loathe getting "textspeak" in an e-mail! I never use it myself in texts or IMs; I always do the full spelling and grammar, even if it means having to send multiple texts. I know that annoys the crap out of some of my friends but I just can't do "RU RDE" or the like. I do confess to using emoticons and laughter abbreviations, though. I sometimes struggle to decipher some of what I'm sent but I don't expect others to be as "textspeak"-avoidant as I am in a medium as limited as texts and IMs. But I won't generally read an e-mail using it unless I see the "Sent via Blackberry" or "Sent from iphone" blurb at the bottom and realize why one of my friends would violate an almost pathological rule of mine! I'm slowly getting less rabid about some abbreviations as they're taking over everything, even movies. (Alec Baldwin saying, "OMG I thought he'd never leave.") Not all mediums allow for the same communications but honestly, blogs and e-mails aren't someplace to be using the new shorthand if you want to be taken seriously.

Regina Carlysle said...

I'm with you, Shawna. I seldom use them. My IM's are always with friends and fellow writers so I don't stress 'being proper'. No need to be proper with friends and I like things stress free on those occasions. I'll sometimes use a LOL or an OMG or an emoticon. That's okay, especially in a friendly IM. Although my blog posts tend to be informal in style, I use good grammar, etc. and try to be professional despite my sometimes irreverent style.

Jake - but not the one said...

Language evolves constantly, and the medium IS part of the message. Our language should be appropriate to the medium, the message and the intended recipient(s). Having said that, language is also very redundant - we often need only the first and last letters of common words, in context, to completely grasp the word itself. So, have fun with the words and the wording! Tease the reader, make them think, engage, use all the gifts of imagination we have, both as writer AND reader!

IOW - don't be the language police when you don't really have to (to break another rule!).

Karin said...

I'm another of those who doesn't use textspeak often. When I do use it, it's usually laughter abbreviations or brb. I also use smiley faces. That's about it, and I only do that in IM conversations with my friends. Any text messages I send are written out and usually have capitals and punctuation. I guess it may just be my love of language, especially English, and the fact that I have my Master's in English. I don't know.

I'm just bothered by the overuse of textspeak by a lot of people I know because, really, it can't take that much longer, especially with phones with qwerty keyboards, to type out a word. In my opinion, it shows how much time and/or effort a person is willing to spend. If they're not willing to spend that much, why would I want to spend that much with them?

Jake - but not the one said...

Karin, even with a qwerty keyboard on a phone, for a man with man sized fingers, life in text is difficult. It takes a LOT longer to get things down accurately, and thank GAWD for autocorrecting software!

Lissa Matthews said...

I don't use text speak in IM. I have on Twitter at times because spelling it all out takes up a lot of the 140 characters. In IM though and even on Twitter I try very hard to write out the words. I don't always use correct punctuation though.

When people have asked me 'How R U?' I always answer I R Fine. Are should be spelled out. You should be spelled out. Thank you. You're welcome. etc... I don't know why really other than it just looks better.

Interesting topic.

Virginia C said...

Know your audience and "play to the house" in a professional manner which still allows you to be yourself : )

If you manage that...U R 2 Good 2 B Tru!!!

Anne Rainey said...

Beth--How much would your reader understand? Now that's a very good question. Teens get it, but are teens buying my erotic romance books? Some, but that's not the majority of my readers. So, spelling things out is a way to have everyone understanding what you're saying. Good point!

Jake--Don't be the language police. That's so true! I hate when a person has to show how smart they are by correcting you ever five seconds!

Lissa--I love it! I R Fine! I should do that!

Jake - but not the one said...

Anne, it's "every", not "ever" five seconds!


Anny Cook said...

It depends on whether you are interested in presenting a professional face or not.

There have been several posts on various publisher's blogs recently that indicate they're checking potential authors by reading their responses to other blog posts.

One blog post in particular mentioned poor grammar and text speak in the public arena of blog commenting.

So. In answer to you question...if it's in the public arena (facebook, twitter, myspace, or your blog, then correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are very important. What you do in a private IM or e-mail is up to you.

Anne Rainey said...

Jake--LOL, thanks, really. :-P

Anny--I'd think publishers had better things to do than scour blog comments. Wouldn't you? At any rate, thanks for sharing that. I'll have to be more careful about my comments, I guess! :)

Tina DeLane said...

I love the blog and will definitely be back. I definitely understand about selling the books. I'm in the middle of the sequel to Hidden Fantasies of Summer as well an erotic novel separate from the series and only just now am getting into promoting.
Have a great weekend!

Dianna C said...

I think in many ways it depends on who you are talking to...if the person you are talking or typing with is cool with it then why not? It can make things a little easier. In a "formal" email...most of the time if it is going to a mass group, spell the stuff out cause not everyone gets text shorthand. I have found the more I use it the easier it is to figure out. Although I have found myself spelling stuff out or using shorthand when either is not appropriate. I have learned to reread everything to make sure that it is kosher.