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April 26, 2014

Writing in the Real World


W is for Writing in the Real World

Writing in the real world is not the same as writing stories. Emails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook statues are treated differently than creative writing. I’m not just talking about the lack of capitalization, punctuation and grammar, but how they are received.

When we write stories, we control everything about it from the tone to what happens. We are also writing about characters we control. Everything they say comes from our minds, and everything they do is part of our plot. We even create their thoughts. Our descriptions hijack our reader’s minds, making them see and feel exactly what we put in our books. Nothing more, nothing less.

However, when we no longer have this creative control we can’t make the people reading our words see and feel what we want them to anymore. That is what occurs when we email or text, causing our written tone to be taken the wrong way and our words to be misconstrued.

This happens to me occasionally. If I am having a conversation with someone that isn't face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) I rely on my writing skills to get my point across or to explain my feelings. Since my writing skills can be pretty powerful, some things I write can be read wrong even if I am very careful with my word choice. I can’t tell you how many times one of my sisters got upset with me because she read what I wrote with a tone I did not intend.

With my creative writing though, the tone and meaning is exactly what I want it to be because I control every aspect of it. I wish I could do that in real life!


QUESTION: Has your writing tone ever been taken out of context in emails or texts?



A to Z Blogging Challenge:


62 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can sound snarky, although I try to reel that in until I know someone better. I have had to tell someone that what I said was a joke and not meant to be mean.

Trisha said...

This is usually what I get to after many revisions. At first my writing is more of a verbal vomit, rather than what I actually want it to be. :P

Stephanie Faris said...

I do freelance writing for a variety of clients, many of whom are located across the globe. Communicating with people in other countries, who are often speaking in broken English, is very difficult. The tone can come across as harsh and offensive at times. I think if we were speaking on the phone, I wouldn't feel the same way, but I've ended working relationships (gracefully, of course, and always lying about the reason why!) because I felt I was being disrespected. Phone isn't an option, either, since the same harsh tone often comes through that way, as well...it's just followed by the word, "Yes." "You're going to do this for me without any questions, yes?" That sort of thing!

Pat Hatt said...

I can be a bit of a smart arse and it may not come across all that well to all at first lol

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for telling me about your experience, Alex. That's one thing I love about this Challenge. Every is sharing their experiences with me like with my V post. I love it! :D

Chrys Fey said...

I always edit when I write and try to make it perfect right away, so I don't have that problem, but I can tell you it takes long for me to write. lol

Chrys Fey said...

I can imagine how difficult it is to talk to people in other countries. The English language can be very harsh at times and I understand how even a phone conversation would be difficult. If someone followed a question with "yes?" I would feel like I'm being downgraded and ordered. My shoulders would hunch and I'd mumble, "yes" back. That would be so hard to have to deal with every day. I admire you for doing it!

Chrys Fey said...

I can see how that might not come across well. haha

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This is something I learned a long time ago. I also try not to read too much into the 'tone' of some emails and texts. Too easy to misinterpret.

Lisa Thomson said...

I've had friendships hit the rocks because the relationship was solely based on texts. It just doesn't work. It's so flat. Long distance friendship take more work than texting if you want to keep them. That is one of my lessons in text writing. :) I usually add a smiley face or xo to my texts to give that extra communication-I care, I love you...imagine if that's all it took in creative writing? emoticons. Ridiculous.

Sophie Duncan said...

I always find it's best to be as explicit as possible when communicating on social media or email and also, smilies are my friend to make sure people know when I'm joking, or trying to be friendly. It still doesn't always work though - you're right, even with careful word choice, things can still be read wrong. :)
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

Chrys Fey said...

They are very easy to misinterpret, but even though I do this I still end up doing it. haha

Chrys Fey said...

Oh no! That's terrible. I'm glad that I don't have an iphone or a good phone in general that I can text with, so I don't end up texting at all unless it's important. I agree with you! Friendships shouldn't be felt to only texting. I always add smiley faces to my texts, messages, and comments. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Smileys are my friends! I use them for nearly every comment or reply on blogs just as a sign of friendship. A smile is universal, although an emoticon might not have the same effect as a real smile. So here is yours: :D

debi o'neille said...

I'm with Alex. I try to keep the Snark out of my voice until I know someone well enough to know they won't be offended. I doubt if I'd managed to do that every time, but… Nobody has called me on it yet. My fingers are now crossed and I'm going to knock on wood. :-)

Crystal Collier said...

Nice. I've come to the point with my daily correspondences where I believe I get the right (write) tone across. You totally brought me to a realization though. I've occasionally been accused of being a red, A-type personality, but not for many years. I TRANSFERRED that need to control into my stories. Ooh! Crazy.

True Heroes from A to Z

Michael Di Gesu said...

Sorry you have had that happen. With me it's just the opposite, I READ things into other's words. LOL.

I generally get my point/tone across pretty well. Thankfully.

Unknown said...

Yes, most definitely! This is why I hate texting and even emailing rather than actually talking on the phone. People take things out of context via text, especially since you can't hear the tone of the other person's voice, read their facial expressions, etc. It's almost as if when you answer someone without using an exclamation point or smile face at the end of your answer, they think you are in a bad mood. This just happened to me the other day with a very good friend of mine. I was simply in rush and answering her text quickly and she thought I was sad or something, lol.

Stephanie Bird said...

I have been told I have a lovely tone,always, in my professional emails by my program director. Like Stephanie Faris I have had training in this arena by working internationally as a content editor for about 8 years. I learned through hard work to make my tone always approachable and to sandwich my criticism--something nice, followed by something critical and so forth. I feel freer to speak my mind by email than in person, hence my post yesterday on voice.

Chrys Fey said...

Sometimes the people who know me still mistake my tone. lol

Chrys Fey said...

You're lucky! I don't have any problem with strangers, oddly enough. It's family and friends who take my written tone out of context. Maybe it's because they know me too well? Hmm . . . haha

I'm so happy to help you with that realization. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm jealous of you and those who say they don't have this problem. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, good. I was beginning to think I was the only one! I agree. The sound of someone's voice and their facial expressions make all the difference and text messages and emails don't have those. I've had that same experience!

Chrys Fey said...

I personally don't have a problem with anything business related such as emails. That's how I talk to my editor. It's when I'm conversing with someone in a non-professional manner through text, email or FB messages, such as with friends or family, when this problem occurs.

I also feel freer to speak my mind in written form. Maybe that's my problem. That and the power of my writing. :P

Andrea said...

Great theme and I like how you gave the full list so far!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Andrea! I just thought it would be easier having the full list for anyone interested. :)

Li said...

I've had it happen several times. In fact, I no longer email any friends or relatives - we talk on the phone or face-to-face. :-)

Andrew Leon said...

I generally don't have any problem with that.
Except, um, with my wife.
Don't make jokes in email; that's all I can say.
:P

Colleen said...

Hmm, got an error when I left a comment so I don't want to repeat myself for fear of double comments appearing. I would agree with Andrew's comment above though. I've offended people by trying to be funny and being read entirely the wrong way.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I hate answering machines and voice mail for similar reasons. It is hard to convey what I feel to a machine without visual or audio input!

Anonymous said...

That's why I prefer to ring or talk face to face if something needs explaining. It's not good to have a conversation by email.

Maggie said...

My quotes and mails have been taken out of context. I've gotten in a lot of trouble. :)

The 2 AM Writer

Anonymous said...

It is hard as a lot of business communication is now handled by email and we need to be really careful before hitting the send button, maybe even take a step back. Good luck with the rest of the Challenge.

Afshan Shaik said...

My writing tone always and all-ways changes Chris fey. Like u said we lose creativity in texts / mails / anythng to that matter
thanks for visiting my blog
Dropping by from A to Z

Chrys Fey said...

Not sending emails to family and friends would indeed eliminate part of the problem. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Jokes definitely don't have the same effect in email form.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm sorry there was an error. I don't know what happened. There's only this one comment, so I appreciate that you tried again. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I always feel silly when I have to leave a voice mail.

Chrys Fey said...

Those would be the better options to communicate, but now-a-days many people rely solely on texts and FB messages.

Chrys Fey said...

Uh oh! This seems to be an ongoing problem with some.

Chrys Fey said...

The only way I communicate with my editor is through email. I always triple check my emails to her.

Thank you! Good luck to you too! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you agree, Afshan. You're welcome, and thank you for visiting mine in return! :)

Glenda Funk said...

You raise a very important point about tone in writing: So much of it depends on the reading skills of the one receiving the email, etc. I've tried to understand how tone gets misconstrued in writing because I'd rather put something in writing than in a face to face exchange. Like you, I have control over the writing that may not be typical for many. This is really something I'm going to give more thought. via A to Z Challenge

Julie Flanders said...

This has happened once or twice to me and I felt so awful about it. I love communicating via email or text but you do have to be careful.

Kimberly said...

Yes, that's definitely happened to me before. :)

Shine Kapoor said...

Being a writer I often get stuck. It is empowering to write, I write fr myself. If others like it than it is a bonus. Nice post!

Chrys Fey said...

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one confused about this, Glenda. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You really do have to be careful.

Chrys Fey said...

At least there's a few of us out there. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Shine. :)

Ava Quinn said...

That has happened to me before. I'm hoping it's pretty universal and people can derive some empathy from the experience. :)

Anonymous said...

I believe I write cold and efficiently in real life. This post definitely makes me think about my texts and emails.

Slamdunk said...

Another good topic Chrys. I tend to be very specific with my writing, and I have found that people I deal with often times would rather skim--which leads me to having to call them and review what I had written.

It can be frustrating.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Definitely, so now I overuse emoticons to the point that my emails probably look like those of a teenage girl. But it's the safest option!

I'm a sarcastic person with a dry wit, but I've learned the hard way that neither translate well to email.

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

I think emoticons are a gift when creating all correspondence online - because jokes and sarcasm can so easily be taken the wrong way, but pop a emoticons in and people know you're having a laugh. For serious discourse it's harder and it's why it takes me ages to write most emails, because I second guess myself all the time :).
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

J Lenni Dorner said...

Oh yes, my writing tone has gone astray more than once. I can have nine people splitting their sides rolling with laughter, and the tenth person shocked by what I wrote. A lack of bold and italics seems to make it worse. Spoken words can be emphasized. Words in a story can be explained (ie: a grin spread across his face as he spoke). But in tweets or posts... sometimes it feels like "lol" and emoticons are the only tools left!

Stopping by from the #atozchallenge !
@JLenniDorner

Chrys Fey said...

I hope so, too! ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad it does because one can't be too careful. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, the skimmers. Yes, it can be irritating to have to explain what you've written because they decided to skim.

Chrys Fey said...

I overuse emoticons, too! But I'm generally a happy and nice person so it is a part of my personality.

Chrys Fey said...

Emoticons are the best, and can really help to soften your words. I end up reading emails a few times before I click "send".

Chrys Fey said...

Sometimes it is how another person views things that can make their reaction different from others. Oh yes, "lol" is something people always stick at the end of FB comments and texts to diffuse their words. But sometimes "lol" doesn't work...