I remember reading a book back in high school, maybe seven or eight years ago, that was made up entirely of instant messaging chat. It was YA fiction about teen girl problems and it worked well at the time because most of my year 9 issues were covered in the way I communicated most.
A few years later (a few years ago, in fact) A Visit From the Goon Squad came into my life and used PowerPoint presentations and futuristic text speak. It really captured the technological focus of our modern society, which I felt was important for a contemporary realist novel to do.
But then I came across this article where another writer (Nobel and Booker Prize winner actually) JM Coetzee makes the argument that
If people (“characters”) are continually going to be speaking to one another at a distance, then a whole gamut of interpersonal signs and signals, verbal and non-verbal, voluntary and non-voluntary, has to be given up. Dialogue… just isn’t possible.
I have to disagree. I’m writing a novel at the moment and didn’t even question myself over using mobile phones and text messages for characters to communicate. If texting eliminates dialogue in books, then you’re also saying that texting eliminates dialogue in real life. Which it doesn’t.
For me, texting is real. And if you’re writing a realist novel set in our world in a contemporary time, you’re gonna have to use technology at some point.
The point is raised in the article that many crucial plot points can be eradicated by the easy use of a mobile phone call or a text message. Well, as far as I can tell, that’s just something challenging us writers who choose to use phones in their work, are gonna have to adapt to. Maybe it’ll push our boundaries a little. And maybe that isn’t such a bad thing after all.