Is It a Real Book? Incorporating Technology into the Modern Novel

I feel so official with the long title.


Anyone who knows me and my books knows that Dear Sydney incorporates a ton of multimedia elements: text messages, Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram posts...the works. And my books since Dear Sydney, including the Three's Company trilogy, have included text messages as well, as those are always fun to include. But I've definitely had my fair share of immediate disregard and shrugging off the fact that I wrote a book when people find out the book has multimedia elements to it.


I get it. You think 'book,' you think your stereotypical novel with dialogue and description exclusively. Words on a page. Not text messages. But it's the 21st century, and literature morphing to include modern-day technology is something that I believe we will be seeing more and more of in the coming years. Do I think every book is going to use technology to the extent that I used it in Dear Sydney? Not at all. But I loved the format of Dear Sydney, and so I wanted to explain some of the ups and downs of incorporating technology into the written word.


Some ups?


It's fun. It's so much fun to picture your characters in their natural element: teenagers on social media and texting their friends. It has to be one of the best ways to get to know your characters, if I'm being honest. Typing out a character's Instagram caption or Tweet is one of the best ways to learn about them, and to learn about how they interact with other people in your book's world. You get to bypass some of the laws of grammar and laws of writing--capitalization isn't set in stone, punctuation can essentially go out the window. It's a reprieve from the natural flow of your regular writing style, and I personally enjoyed it immensely.


Plus, when you choose to only incorporate text messages sporadically into your book, they prove to be a nice little break in the paragraphs and in the occasionally mundane parts of the dreaded middle of the book.


Some downs?


It's difficult. And it's time consuming. In the first half of Dear Sydney, the book is told completely in social media posts, text messages, and letters. It's hard to tell a coherent story in that way, but the challenge makes it a bit enjoyable as well. It helps you really understand your own story and forces you to have a lot planned out. But the creating of fake social media posts and texts is incredibly time consuming. I think that I spent more time on the making of the posts in the first half of the book than I did on actually writing the dialogue and descriptions in the second half. But if you're willing to put in the effort? I'd highly recommend it.


That's my short little speech on technology in books. Are books that use social media and modern devices in their storytelling 'real' books? Absolutely. They take the same caliber of storytelling and imagination as writing any other kind of book, and I think that it's silly to discount them as 'lesser' than any other book. And if you're thinking about incorporating these aspects into your book, I would honestly, highly recommend it.


Want to see what it's like to have technology in a book? Check out Dear Sydney on Amazon.

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